VERSION GALORE: The Harder They Come

Jimmy Cliff’s had more than a few hits over the decades he’s been making music. I would have to say though that his greatest lasting legacy that can’t be denied might just be being in the film The Harder They Come and singing the title track. Seems everyone has covered this song from multiple punk icons (showing his impact on the punk bands from 77 to today and his status as true visionary), a Rolling Stone, a country star, a Japanese band, Ska stars, 80’s hitmakers and rock stars. Below you’ll find just a small sample of the diverse artists that have led their own voice to this, with a doubt, classic tune.

We posted the Rancid live cover before:

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros

Me First & The Gimme Gimmes

Social Distortion

Willie Nelson & Ryan Adams


Long Beach Dub All-Stars

Keith Richards

Social Sound System

Dada Yute

Widespread Panic

Tete with bagslifeim

Cher even got in a cover in 1975 retitling it “The Bigger They Come, The Harder They Fall”.

My favorite though comes from an early 80’s hitmaker. Joe Jackson, known for his 1982 hit “Steppin’ Out”, released a 3 song EP in 1980 (AMS 7536) where he covered the tune perfectly blending the punk and reggae. I regularly play this in my punky reggae set. No one knows who this is whenever I drop this on the tables either.

Which is your favorite cover? Have any others? Have any info on Tete with bagslifeim I want to know!

Poison Idea

I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.