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Rob Greaves

Cream of The Crate - Record #15

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"For as sure as the sun will shine, I'm gonna get it, what's mine . . . and then the harder they come, the harder they fall, one and all."
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This is number fifteen in the series of albums I’m featuring under the title of Cream of The Crate. It is part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my collection that I believe have significant musical value.

So far I have acknowledged and reviewed albums of music covering Blues, Soul, Pop and Rock. Then I came across my reggae section, and while there are several albums I could choose from, for this my first review of a splendid reggae album I have chosen, the 1972 The Harder They Come LP.

Released on the Mango label (MLPS – 9205), it is a beautiful gate-fold that provides a colourful cover representing the film, and a collage on the left hand inside, of various characters from the film. The inside right hand side is the words to each song.

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This LP was produced as a result of 12 fantastic reggae tracks used as the soundtrack for the film by the same name. More a cult film it was produced and directed by Perry Henzel and released by New World Pictures. The story takes place in a shantytown in Jamaica, one of hundreds, and it tells the story through the music in the main, of what life is like in the world of raw reggae and Jamaican weed!

To quote from the liner notes. “The slums of West Kingston weren’t just a location for “The Harder They Come”, they gave it birth and they gave it life. Nothing expresses that life better than the music in this album, for here there is hope and deep depression, anger and love.”

Now I heard this album first in 1974, and didn’t get to see the film until a number of years later. Yet in some ways seeing the film is unnecessary, but highly desirable for those of us with a love for Reggae, Ska, Rocksteady and all the derivatives that came before and after Reggae.

It is unnecessary because the music represents some of the most classic of reggae tracks by five very well known and loved reggae stars and groups. It is not the definitive list of reggae artists with one of the most obvious stars (Bob Marley) missing. However when you have a line-up of music by:

  • Jimmy Cliff
  • Melodians
  • Maytals
  • Slickers
  • Desmond Dekker and the lesser known
  • Scotty

you can rightly expect great music, and this album delivers.

It is music that represents the total cross section of the ‘human condition’ - but after all, isn’t that what music like the Blues, Soul and Reggae best represents. There is hope through a track like, You Can Get It If You Really Want. There is the painful journey that poverty demands best represented by, Many Rivers To Cross. There is defiance against the odds as declared through, The harder They Come, and, there is the declaration of how things can go so badly wrong, as told in Johnny Too Bad. Each track tells a story, each track reflects an emotion.

The Album Track Listing:
Side one

  1. "You Can Get It If You Really Want" (Jimmy Cliff) – 2:40 performed by Jimmy Cliff
  2. "Draw Your Brakes" (Derrick Harriott, Texas Dixon, Keith Rowe) – 2:57 performed by Scotty
  3. "Rivers of Babylon" (Brent Dowe, James McNaughton) – 4:16 performed by The Melodians
  4. "Many Rivers to Cross" (Cliff) – 3:02 performed by Jimmy Cliff
  5. "Sweet and Dandy" (Frederick Hibbert) – 3:01 performed by The Maytals
  6. "The Harder They Come" (Cliff) – 3:41 performed by Jimmy Cliff

Side two

  1. "Johnny Too Bad" (Trevor Wilson, Winston Bailey, Hylton Beckford, Derrick Crooks) – 3:04 performed by The Slickers
  2. "007 (Shanty Town)" (Desmond Dekker) – 2:43 performed by Desmond Dekker
  3. "Pressure Drop" (Hibbert) – 3:44 performed by The Maytals
  4. "Sitting in Limbo" (Jimmy Cliff, Guillermo Bright-Plummer) – 4:57 performed by Jimmy Cliff
  5. "You Can Get It If You Really Want" – 2:43 (Cliff) performed by Jimmy Cliff
  6. "The Harder They Come" (Cliff) – 3:07 performed by Jimmy Cliff

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You Can Get It If You Really Want

Johnny Too Bad

The Rivers Of Babylon

The album is now released on CD and retails between $15.00 and $20.00 Australian, with reasonable quality vinyl albums selling second hand for about $20.00, and $40.00 for one’s in excellent condition. So it’s not that it is ‘rare’ that makes it such a valuable addition to a collection, it is that it represents a selection of really top tracks that across the whole album, tell a story.

The DVD is readily available so if you are a lover of reggae and not seen the film, there is little excuse as it can be found for as little as $8.00 with FREE postage in Oz.

Sometimes real gems are overlooked and thus their value is not appreciated. This would appear to be the case with this album. Personally, I enjoyed the film, and love the music!

I could only find one live video of a performance of a track from this album, and it is the title track.

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Previous Cream of The Crate Albums

#1 – Howling Wolf: Real Folk Blues

#2 – Otis Redding: Otis Blue/ Otis Redding Sings Soul

#3 – Dr John The Night Tripper: Gris Gris

#4 – Spectrum: ROYGBIV

#5 – Son House: The Real Delta Blues

#6 – Cruisin ‘61

#7 – Live At The Station Hotel

#8 – Crosby, Stills Nash & Young: Déjà Vu

#9 – Moon Mullican: Rock it to the Moon

#11 – Bobby and Laurie: Cum Sum Ambulant (Hitch Hiker)

#12 – Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland

#13 – The Beatles: The Beatles Collection

#14 – Johnny O’Keefe: 20th Anniversary Album
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Updated 8th April 2013 at 08:27 PM by Mick Pacholli

Rob Greaves , The Cream of The Crate


  1. Mick Pacholli's Avatar
    Yeah I've always loved Jimmy Cliff's music, Desmond Dekker got me early too...

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