Monday, June 19, 2006

100 Greats in 100 Days: # 001: The Harder They Come

Jimmy Cliff et al: The Harder They Come (soundtrack).

Oh, my God. Desmond Dekker, Toots and the Maytals, The Melodians, the Slickers, and Jimmy himself. This was the soundtrack to the first full-length feature film shot in Jamaica (1972), which took off from a series of folk tales about a legendary ghetto gunman called Rhygin. He became a media star before being shot down in 1948. The film gives him a back-story as a singing star ripped off in the Trenchtown manner.

The music is absolutely incredible. It captures a moment when Jamaican popular music, melding indigenous religious styles of percussion, the influence of American r&b and gospel via radio, and original songwriters. Rock-steady, ska, and reggae all represented here. This was the first Jamaican LP to hit the US/UK top 10 charts and it's absolutely fucking incredible. Cornerstone of a Jamaican music collection.

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