Jamaican harmony trio Culture – with their uncompromising and charismatic lead sing Joseph Hill – was the epitome of dread in the mid-70s with Rastafarian themes and apocalyptic warnings of the world’s imminent demise. Their debut album was the acclaimed and prophetic Two Sevens Clash. That set along with its follow-up Baldhead Bridge were recorded with Joe Gibbs and his sidekick Errol T behind the mixing desk.
Culture soon moved on and initiated a successful and fruitful collaboration with Sonia Pottinger, one of Jamaica’s few female producers. Together they provided Richard Branson’s Virgin Front Line imprint with three super-solid roots classics – Harder Than the Rest, Cumbolo and International Herb. A fourth album was also recorded, but never released at the time.
That fourth album – unofficially at the time titled Black Rose – is now part of a massive Culture two disc reissue – Culture on the Front Line, which collects Culture’s complete recordings for Virgin. The marketing of this album is however not entirely true though, since it’s stated that Black Rose is previously unreleased. Thing is that seven of its eight tracks appeared on Heartbeat’s Trod On compilation released in 1993.
Culture on the Front Line collects a whopping 48 tracks and Black Rose is just as great as the other three sets recorded together with Sonia Pottinger. Culture is as revolutionary and radical as always. They warn against Babylonian living and cry for social change.
Culture has always relied quite a lot on the backing vocals courtesy of Albert “Ralph” Walker and Kenneth Dayes. Their chorale singing and striking harmonies are crucial to the songs. But they also add spirituality and a rural flavor and nearly all songs sound like they could have been performed in front of a bonfire late at night.