Day 233: [Various Artists] – Soundtrack to The Harder They Come

19 Oct

You Can Get It If You Really Want

Nope, that’s not the name of some obscure band trying to be clever.  While it would be hilarious if a band stylized as [Various Artists] did release an album called Soundtrack to The Harder They Come (believe me, mental note = made), I actually did listen to a movie soundtrack today.  This is a monumental Swole Ear post for a few reasons.  Not only is this the first (real) soundtrack that I’ve listened to for the project, but it is also the first time that I’ve dealt with a record put together by more than two different artists.

No, I’ve never seen The Harder They Come (the film), and due to a power outage, I’m writing this post way past my bedtime, and just don’t have the time to do my usual pre-album research.  Suggested in the comments of yesterday’s post as a way to enhance my ska knowledge bank by teaching me about the music referred to as rock steady, I’ve come to think of this genre as a tad more accessible than both reggae and ska.  With faster beats and catchier harmonies than the (limited) reggae that I’ve been exposed to, I understand why I was advised to listen to this album.

While five different artists put this soundtrack together, Jimmy Cliff steals the show as the performer behind half of the record’s twelve tracks.  (However, I do understand a few more references from The Lonely Island’s Ras Trent thanks to Desmond Dekker’s contribution).  Everyone knows Cliff’s You Can Get It If You Really Want, which works really well because of its rare combination of catchiness and guiltlessness.  That, along with most of Cliff’s other (similar) tracks, leads me to believe that that rock steady may actually have more to offer than ska.

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3 Responses to “Day 233: [Various Artists] – Soundtrack to The Harder They Come”

  1. Ivan Chops October 20, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    Now you need to see the film (which stars Jimmy Cliff) in order to have the appropriate frame of reference to understand the following verse from The Clash`s “Guns of Brixton”:

    You see, he feels like Ivan
    Born under the Brixton sun
    His game is called survivin’
    At the end of The Harder They Come

    The whole film is available on the youtubes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGjxHjkPy2U&feature=related

    Like you, it was the Jimmy Cliff tunes that jumped out at me when I first heard the album but in the long run my favorites have been “Johnny Too Bad” and the two Toots and Maytals contributions.

    The album did not generate gigantic sales when it came out (it never made it into the Billboard top 100) but Rock Steady ended up having a pretty major immediate influence through Paul Simon who about the time Harder came out was discovering Jamaican music and had an ENORMOUS hit with “Mother and Child Reunion” – which sounds pretty at home with this stuff. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDjjWpLKsGM&feature=related

    • Ivan Chops October 24, 2011 at 10:37 am #

      I did not know it when I wrote the above comment but Paul Simon has apparently been playing both the Jimmy Cliff song that inspired “Mother and Child Renion” (“Vietnam”) and the song itself in his current concert tour. I would give you the link for this but the performance is really not special – so here is one for the Jimmy Cliff song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbJ1Ky-CjZY

  2. Yuanny Dollar October 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Fond memories of slow dancing to Many Rivers to Cross. Very fond. And Pressure Drop — fond memories of less-slow dancing to that song. As I recall, despite the fact that the actors are speaking english, the movie is subtitled.

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