• Dennis Howard

The Story of the Promised Land Riddim From the Movie Soundtrack The Harder They Fall

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

With its inclusion in The Harder They Fall soundtrack, one of the most popular movies on Netflix. More attention has been placed on this famous reggae song and riddim.

It is known as the Promised Land riddim in Jamaica but did you know it is called the Love Fire riddim in the UK?

This famous riddim was recorded by the popular reggae band Aswad comprising Tony 'Gad' Robinson, Angus 'Drummie Zeb' Gaye and Brinsley Ford. The riddim was made for a song entitled 'Love Fire' from their 1981 album New Chapter, produced by Michael 'Reuben' Campbell.

Aswad also released a dub version of the album called a 'New Chapter in Dub,' praised for its innovative approach to dub studio techniques.

How did this riddim become known as the promised land? Well, it all started when Aswad and Dennis Brown were on Reggae Sunsplash tour in Italy. During an Aswad sound check for the concert performance, Dennis Brown, who was to do his soundcheck after, the band spontaneously started to ad-libbing lyrics upon hearing the Dub Fire riddim being performed by the band.

Both Dennis and the band enjoyed the spontaneous jam session/soundcheck so much that the band called their producer Michael 'Reuben' Campbell who then called Dennis and arranged to record the song at Island studios in the UK . The proceeding studio session ended up being the song the Promised Land, which is among Brown's most popular songs.

The single for 'Promise Land' was released in Jamaica, and the riddim became known as the Promised Land riddim. Michael Campbell remembers that Dennis was not given permission to release the song, but Dennis felt the song would be enormous and released it.

Over the decades, the riddim has become a go-to staple, being used by numerous artists over the years Including Jr Gong and Lila Iké.

But not many fans know the riddim's actual origins and that the first song on the riddim was 'Love Fire' and not the 'Promised Land.' The promise land story underscores that significant contributions to our music came out of the diaspora in cities like London and New York.

Dennis Brown's Promised Land has now made the soundtrack for the hit movie The Harder They Fall; it has become one of the most-streamed reggae songs on all streaming platforms. As the saying goes, a good song never dies.