Culture gets a career spanning retrospective

The iconic rough and rugged vocal harmony trio Culture must have a loyal fan base, because VP Records have recently put out their fourth compilation with material from the late Joseph Hill, his cousin Albert “Randolph” Walker and Kenneth Paley.

But this new set differs from the previous three, since it collects material from a variety of sources rather than focusing only on Joe Gibbs, which has previously been the case.

The 38 track set – plus a 21 song live DVD with a 40 minute interview – titled Natty Dread Taking Over encompasses well-known material from foundation producers Joe Gibbs and Sonia Pottinger along with a few tunes from Joseph Hill’s solo album Lion Rock and the cream of the reunited group’s later work for Linford “Fatta” Marshall and Colin “Bulby” York.

What makes this compilation really interesting though is the inclusion of a solo cut by Albert Walker and Kenneth Paley for Henry “Junjo” Lawes, the album Africa Stand Alone in its entirety, four tracks from a radio session for BBC in 1983 and a King Jammy dubplate on the Sleng Teng riddim.

Africa Stand Alone has never before been available on CD or digital download and it’s a remarkable album with a raw and unpolished feel to it. And it fits Joseph Hill’s dread and educational callings for peace, love and unity very well. Several of the tunes got a bit more make-up when they were re-recorded for Sonia Pottinger and included on the album Harder Than the Rest.

The BBC radio session presents Culture standards such as Too Long in Slavery and the anthemic Two Sevens Clash in a new, different and highly enjoyable light.

Natty Dread Taking Over is more than mere fun. It’s uplifting, surprising and a great way to discover both classics and unknown nuggets from one of the greatest reggae groups of all time.

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