It is hard to image that 40 years have passed by since we heard the smash album, THE HARDER THEY COME, hit the airwaves.
What made this album so special was that it was a landmark soundtrack album to the film of the same name. Based on the real-life story of a small town (country) boy who goes to the big city (Kingston) and becomes embroiled in the drug trade. Jimmy Cliff, by now, a successful Jamaican singer won the role of "Rhyging" (in the film was called "Ivanhoe Martin.")
Cliff wrote the title song and also included 3 other very, very memorable tunes including "You Can Get It If You Really Want!" and "Many Rivers To Cross." This latter version was nicely remade by UB40 some 10 years later.
At this time in Jamaica, the music scene was moved by individuals making "single" 45's. And, Director Perry Henzell contracted with some who had established hits from the three years prior to filming including Toots Hibbert (of Toots and The Maytals) for their song, "Pressure Drop" and The Melodians for their great song, "Rivers of Babylon."
The second disc of this deluxe edition acts as a survey of other hits songs during the pre-reggae period of 1970 such as "Isreaelites" by Desmond Dekker, "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash, "Cherry Oh, Baby" by Eric Donaldson and "54-46, That's My Number" by Toots. This is a great addition. All of these cuts are still played very frequently over Jamaica's airwaves.
This was Chris Blackwell's original go to man, coincidentally, before Bob Marley because Cliff had the right combination of acting and singing skills and would prove to be a easier chance of marketing to the world outside of Jamaica. Why then did Blackwell reconsider and use his influence in the UK to market Marley over Cliff? Who knows.
One thing is for certain. Jimmy Cliff is in that select group of singers who could act, write and sing. Armstrong, Sinatra, Presley, Streisand, Cliff, Ross, Madonna and Prince.
This album ranks at #2 of my list of the greatest reggae albums of all time.