Jimmy Cliff. The Harder They Come OST. 1972. Island Records. UK Gatefold. The sleeve may say “Jimmy Cliff in The Harder They Come” prominently at the top but this more then a Jimmy Cliff album. Much more;
Firstly, this is indeed a soundtrack album with many different artists include - The Melodians, The Slickers, DJ Scotty, Desmond Dekker and Toots and the Maytals. From reggae pop to rockers to lovers rock and back again. Each artists adding to the flow and ultimate outcome with a diversity of styles and forms. It’s everything you could hope for on a single LP.
The Harder They Come is also the album that popularized the sound of reggae worldwide. It’s influence particularly strong in London. The home of many people from the Caribbean region after WWII.
The Clash were one of the first English bands to connect the rather unique alliance between punk rock and reggae. (You’ll notice my copy of Sandinista! peeking over my shoulder). Sandinista! may be an underrated album in the Clash canon but the transformation from punk to a punk/reggae hybrid cannot be denied.
Remember, Sandinista! was released in 1980. The influence of The Hard They Come had percolated for nearly a decade in England.
Nevertheless, Sandinista was a record many punk rock fans weren't ready for. (and most still don't understand). The album is a celebration of influences. Reggae, dub, ska...these sounds were everywhere in London. Much the same way Jimmy Cliff was influenced by western pop and soul from the US in the 1950/60.
So lets skip the PC conversations about cultural “misappropriation”. Music transcends. It morphs and bends and brings people together. We should embrace these gifts. In fact listening to both albums back to back is a wonderful way to spend the evening. #vinylwriters #jimmycliff #thehardertheycome