Hip-O/Universal Music Enterprises (UME) will mark the 30th anniversary of the U.S. release of the landmark reggae album "The Harder They Come" with a remastered, two-disc "Deluxe Edition," due Aug. 5.
Hip-O/Universal Music Enterprises (UME) will mark the 30th anniversary of the U.S. release of the landmark reggae album "The Harder They Come" with a remastered, two-disc "Deluxe Edition," due Aug. 5. The first disc is a remastered version of the soundtrack to the 1973 film starring reggae great Jimmy Cliff as Ivan, an aspiring musician turned gangster. Both the film and the 12-song soundtrack, half of which was comprised of his songs, went on to make Cliff an international star.
The second disc collects some of reggae's most commercially successful singles to predate the April 1973 release of Bob Marley & the Wailers' Island debut, "Catch a Fire." Included are a number of additional tracks from the same artists on the original disc -- Cliff ("Vietnam"), Desmond Dekker ("Israelites") and the Maytals (" 54-46 (That's My Number)").
Dana Smart, UME's reissue supervisor for the project, says because "The Harder They Come" is a various-artists title, and because each song from the original soundtrack was used in the movie, he had to deviate slightly from the company's model for its Deluxe Editions.
In most cases, the lavish Deluxe Editions focus on a classic album by one artist, like Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," and embellish the set with demos or live recordings from the album sessions or the era. But, the same approach couldn't be taken here: there just weren't any leftovers.
Smart chose tracks by many of the artists from the original soundtrack to make the project cohesive. "It was their music that was lifting reggae out of the Caribbean area into the mainstream," he tells Billboard.com.
Smart says the second disc investigates "'What else is there from that time and place?' And there was a handful of songs that started to break reggae in the pop mainstream prior to Marley's arrival. So it's things like 'Israelites,' which was a pop hit -- even in the U.S. -- in '68; it's Johnny Nash's 'I Can See Clearly Now,' which isn't a reggae tune per se, but it has a definite Caribbean feel and really started opening ears to what that sound was like. The other Johnny Nash tune that's on there is 'Guava Jelly' -- not a hit, but that's a Marley composition, and [Nash's] album came out in '72, before anybody knew who Marley was in the U.S."
Catering to the many Jamaicans who had relocated to the U.K., both the movie and soundtrack were released there. in July 1972, prior to their U.S. debut. And while the album appeared in U.S. stores in February 1973 (on Mango/Island) -- two months before "Catch a Fire" -- it didn't hit the national charts until 1975.
In 2001, UME reissued "The Harder They Come" in a single-disc format, remastering the album and restoring lyrics and jacket photos that were lost in the album's conversion to CD in the mid-'80s. The new disc finds the album remastered once again. The tracks on the second disc are also sonically restored.
New artwork is being added, as are essays by reggae historian David Katz, the film's director/co-writer Perry Henzell, Island founder and reggae icon Chris Blackwell and Clash bassist Paul Simonon.