A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this soundtrack to the 1972 Jimmy Cliff movie The Harder They Come, about a reggae singer who turns to a life of crime, offers a collection of classic tracks by some of reggae's most notable pioneers, including the title song, "You Can Get It If You Really Want," "Many Rivers to Cross," "Sitting in Limbo," and "Pressure Drop." While some of today's reggae artists pride themselves on their raunchy songs, there's none of that on this album. A couple of tracks describe violent thugs on a spree, but its consequences quickly catch up with them. Several songs have a theme of perseverance and embattled faith through hard times; others are irresistible, catchy tunes about love gone right or wrong.
What's the story?
For most non-Jamaicans, the soundtrack to the 1972 Jimmy Cliff movie The Harder They Come was their first introduction to reggae; it made artists previously unknown in the rest of the world wildly popular, and its tracks went on to influence and appear in cover versions by other artists to the present day. The lion's share of the tracks (the title song, \"You Can Get It If You Really Want,\" \"Many Rivers to Cross,\" \"Sitting in Limbo\") belong to the soulful, golden-voiced Cliff, but there are also irresistible hits of the time by Toots and the Maytals (\"Sweet and Dandy\" and \"Pressure Drop\"), Desmond Dekker (\"007\") and The Melodians (\"By the Rivers of Babylon\").
Is it any good?
Countless reggae fans started down that path with THE HARDER THEY COME SOUNDTRACK, and to this day it's hard to imagine a better introduction -- the only possible complaint is that there's no Bob Marley here. There's plenty of stylistic variety, moods from menacing to heavenly to pure fun, and all the artists are in top form. Because the tracks were recorded at different times and anthologized for the album, there are some differences in recording quality, with Cliff's tracks often seeming more slickly produced and his fellow artists' more raw and urgent. It's all great.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Harder They Come Soundtrack has been influencing artists ever since it came out. Do you hear traces of it in the music you like?
Reggae has a lot of different styles -- which of these songs do you like best? Have you heard versions of these songs by other artists?
Do you know if any of these artists are still performing today?
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