Various Artists


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When Island Records released the double-LP soundtrack to Countryman in the spring of 1982, ten years after the appearance of The Harder They Come, it was easy to see that company founder Chris Blackwell was looking to do for the current state of reggae what he had done before, i.e., promote it via a various-artists sampler that happened to have a cinematic tie-in. In this case, the movie itself was nowhere to be found, not even at the college campus midnight showings that had given birth to the cult following for The Harder They Come; director Dickie Jobson's Jamaican adventure film, about a runaway couple, corrupt officials, and a fisherman endowed with magical powers didn't see release until 1983, and then had little distribution. Of course, reggae was no longer a budding new sound in the early '80s, its standard-bearer, Bob Marley, having succumbed to cancer in 1981. Bob Marley & the Wailers got the most tracks on the album, eight out of 22, some in remixed or alternate versions, and Wally Badarou had five tracks for his instrumental score for the film, some of them overlaid with dialogue. The rest was a who's who of the Island roster, including Steel Pulse, Dennis Brown, and Toots & the Maytals, making for an excellent reggae collection that held together well, even if it couldn't have the impact of The Harder They Come ten years before. (Island released a single-CD remastering of Countryman on June 26, 2001.)

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