The Harder They Come (soundtrack)

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The Harder They Come
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJuly 7, 1972
GenreRocksteady, ska, reggae
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau(A)[2]
The Rolling Stone Record Guide5/5 stars[3]

The Harder They Come is the soundtrack album to the film of the same name, released in 1972 in the United Kingdom as Island Records ILPS 9202. It was issued in February 1973 in North America as Mango Records SMAS-7400.[4] It peaked at #140 on the Billboard 200.


The heart of the soundtrack comes from performances by the film's star, reggae singer Jimmy Cliff. Only the title track "The Harder They Come" was recorded by Cliff specifically for the soundtrack, with three earlier songs by Cliff added.[5] The remainder of the album is a compilation of singles released in Jamaica from the period of 1967 through 1972, assembled by The Harder They Come director and co-writer, Perry Henzell, from songs by favored reggae singers.[6] In addition to Cliff, these artists include The Melodians, The Slickers, DJ Scotty, and seminal early reggae stars Desmond Dekker and Toots and the Maytals.

The soundtrack album played a major part in popularizing reggae in the United States and the world beyond, the film itself preventing the genre from remaining an isolated phenomenon in Jamaica.[7] In 2003, the album was ranked number 119 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album also appears on greatest albums lists from Time and Blender, and was named the 97th best album of the 1970s by Pitchfork Media.[citation needed]

On August 5, 2003, Universal Music Group issued a Deluxe Edition of the album, with the original remastered and reissued on one disc. A bonus disc continued the idea of the original soundtrack itself, compiling additional singles from the early days of reggae, entitled Reggae Hit the Town: Crucial Reggae 1968-1972.

Track listing[edit]

1."You Can Get It If You Really Want"Jimmy CliffJimmy Cliff2:40
2."Draw Your Brakes"Derrick Harriott, Texas Dixon, Keith RoweScotty2:57
3."Rivers of Babylon"Brent Dowe, James McNaughtonThe Melodians4:16
4."Many Rivers to Cross"Jimmy CliffJimmy Cliff3:02
5."Sweet and Dandy"Frederick HibbertThe Maytals3:01
6."The Harder They Come"Jimmy CliffJimmy Cliff3:41
7."Johnny Too Bad"Trevor Wilson, Winston Bailey, Hylton Beckford, Derrick CrooksThe Slickers3:04
8."007 (Shanty Town)"Desmond DekkerDesmond Dekker2:43
9."Pressure Drop"Frederick HibbertThe Maytals3:44
10."Sitting in Limbo"Jimmy Cliff, Guillermo Bright-PlummerJimmy Cliff4:57
11."You Can Get It If You Really Want"Jimmy CliffJimmy Cliff2:43
12."The Harder They Come"Jimmy CliffJimmy Cliff3:07


Reissue personnel[edit]

  • Dana Smart - supervisor
  • Pat Lawrence - executive producer
  • Vartan - reissue art director
  • John Bryant - cover illustrator
  • Gavin Larsen - digital mastering


  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Robert Christgau review
  3. ^ Marsh, Dave; Swenson, John (Editors). The Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1st edition, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1979, p. 569.
  4. ^ The Harder They Come. UMG 440 089 495-2, 2003, liner notes, p. 26.
  5. ^ Katz, David. UMG liner notes, p. 12.
  6. ^ Henzell, Perry. UMG liner notes, p. 3.
  7. ^ Miller, Jim, ed. The Rolling Stone Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. New York: Random House, 1980, p. 447.