Celebrating five decades of his magnum opus, Jimmy Cliff is preparing The Harder They Come 50th Anniversary Edition vinyl on December 9, 2022 via UMe.
Cliff, one of the most important reggae artists of all-time, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and Grammy Award-winning icon, is getting the project pressed to vinyl for the very first time. In addition to a 2LP gatefold wrapped jacket with lamented gloss coating, the package boasts the liner notes from the 40th Anniversary Edition in addition to brand new words courtesy of Jimmy personally and revered reggae historian Dana Smart.
In 1972, the film The Harder They Come arrived and eventually emerged as a cult classic with Cliff in the starring role. The accompanying The Harder They Come Soundtrack brought an international spotlight to reggae music. The album initially climbed to No.141 on the Billboard 200, and its legacy would only grow as time passed.
The year 2021 saw the Library of Congress choose it for preservation in the National Recording Registry, deeming it “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.” Rolling Stone touted The Harder They Come Soundtrack on its coveted “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.
Cliff delivers “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” the gritty title track, the mellow “Sitting In Limbo” and the song widely regarded as his masterpiece, “Many Rivers To Cross”–still a moving ballad all these years later. The Maytals offer “Sweet And Dandy,” a tale of wedding celebrations, and “Pressure Drop,” another articled classic. Desmond Dekker, Kong’s biggest international star, has just one track, the ebullient “007,” already five years old when the album was released, but its rude-boy commentary suited the movie, as did The Slickers’ “Johnny Too Bad,” one of the few The Harder They Come soundtrack tunes not produced by Kong, but using the same studio and band.
The album’s other gentle and reflective song is The Melodians’ “Rivers Of Babylon”; poor souls who only know the Boney M version will be surprised by its sincere and soulful piety. A hint of reggae’s future came courtesy of Scotty’s “Draw Your Brakes,” a DJ tune produced by Derrick Harriott.