The Harder They Come (soundtrack)

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.[5] It peaked at No. 140 on the Billboard 200. In 2021, the album was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry.[6]

The Harder They Come
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJuly 7, 1972
GenreRocksteady, ska, reggae
Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideA[2]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[3]
The Rolling Stone Record Guide[4]



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.[7] 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.[8] 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.

Two songs are repeated on side two to end the album. The second version of "You Can Get It If You Really Want" is a dub version of the song mostly minus a few vocals, while the second version of "The Harder They Come" is an alternate take.[9]

Reception and legacy


In Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Robert Christgau said the soundtrack "collected the best songs of artists whose music was either unavailable or not rich enough to fill an LP".[10]

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.[11] In 2003, the album was ranked number 119 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, number 122 in a 2012 revision, and number 174 in the 2020 reboot of the list.[12][13] 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.[14][15][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, titled Reggae Hit the Town: Crucial Reggae 1968–1972.

Track listing

Side one
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
Side two
1."Johnny Too Bad"Trevor Wilson, Winston Bailey, Hylton Beckford, Derrick CrooksThe Slickers3:04
2."007 (Shanty Town)"Desmond DekkerDesmond Dekker2:43
3."Pressure Drop"Frederick HibbertThe Maytals3:44
4."Sitting in Limbo"Jimmy Cliff, Guillermo Bright-PlummerJimmy Cliff4:57
5."You Can Get It If You Really Want (partial instrumental)"Jimmy CliffJimmy Cliff2:43
6."The Harder They Come (alternate)"Jimmy CliffJimmy Cliff3:07
2003 reissue bonus disc
1."Israelites"Desmond Dacres, Leslie KongDesmond Dekker and the Aces2:37
2."My Conversation"Keith Smith, Edward LeeThe Uniques2:41
3."Do the Reggay"Frederick HibbertThe Maytals3:18
4."Viet Nam"Jimmy CliffJimmy Cliff4:53
5."I Can See Clearly Now"Johnny NashJohnny Nash2:42
6."Reggae Hit the Town"Leonard DillonThe Ethiopians2:24
7."Double Barrel"Winston RileyDave and Ansel Collins2:50
8."It Mek"Desmond Dacres, Leslie KongDesmond Dekker and the Aces2:32
9."Sweet Sensation"Renford CogleThe Melodians3:42
10."Let Your Yeah Be Yeah"Jimmy CliffJimmy Cliff3:05
11."Cherry Oh Baby"Eric DonaldsonEric Donaldson3:02
12."Monkey Spanner"Winston Riley, Ansel CollinsDave and Ansel Collins2:45
13."54-46 (That's My Number)"Frederick HibbertThe Maytals2:58
14."It's My Delight"Brent Dowe, Trevor McNaughtonThe Melodians3:14
15."Wonderful World, Beautiful People"Jimmy CliffJimmy Cliff3:15
16."Pomp and Pride"Frederick HibbertThe Maytals4:28
17."Guava Jelly"Bob MarleyJohnny Nash3:15
18."The Bigger They Come the Harder They Fall"Jimmy CliffJimmy Cliff3:12



Reissue personnel

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


  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: C". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 23, 2019 – via
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  4. ^ Marsh, Dave; Swenson, John (Editors). The Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1st edition, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1979, p. 569.
  5. ^ The Harder They Come. UMG 440 089 495-2, 2003, liner notes, p. 26.
  6. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (March 24, 2021). "Janet Jackson and Kermit the Frog Added to National Recording Registry". The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  7. ^ Katz, David. UMG liner notes, p. 12.
  8. ^ Henzell, Perry. UMG liner notes, p. 3.
  9. ^ Greaves, Rob (February 13, 2020). "Cream of The Crate: Album Review #107 – Jimmy Cliff (and others): The Harder They Come". Toorak Times. Retrieved August 18, 2020 – via Tagg.
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: T". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 17, 2019 – via
  11. ^ Miller, Jim, ed. The Rolling Stone Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. New York: Random House, 1980, p. 447.
  12. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 22 September 2020.
  13. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  14. ^ "All-TIME 100 Albums". Time. 2006. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  15. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork Media. 2004. Retrieved November 1, 2020.