Legendary roots vocal trio Culture released their ground-breaking debut album Two Sevens Clash 40 years ago. And this is celebrated with an expanded edition of the original album.
Two Sevens Clash is a masterpiece of Biblical proportions and a set that helped to define roots reggae with its spiritual and apocalyptic messaging and close harmonizing. But musically the album isn’t the archetype of roots reggae. Two Sevens Clash is brighter and more uplifting compared to most of the sets released during the same period.
This new version comes with eleven bonus cuts – dubs mixed by Errol T and deejay versions by the likes of I Roy and Shorty the President. No fillers, only killers, even though a few of the bonus cuts have audio quality slightly below par.
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.
VP Records has recently put out a collectors box set with material from fire and brimstone vocal group Culture, an outfit lead by the unmistakable voice of the late Joseph Hill.
Seven Sevens Clash is an appropriate title for the box since it collects seven hard to find 7” produced by the Mighty Two – producer Joe Gibbs and engineer Errol T – responsible for the highly acclaimed album Two Sevens Clash released in 1977.
The seven inches have the vocals on the A side and its dub counterpart on the B side and are pressed with the original Joe Gibbs label sleeves and collected in a hard box set.
The vocal tracks are probably familiar to many reggae addicts with classics such as See Them A Come, Two Sevens Clash and I’m Not Ashamed. The dub versions might be less familiar, even though most of them are easily available today on CD and digital download.
Joseph Hill’s singing is rugged and passionate, while some of the mixes – particularly Informer Version – sounds like they have been mixes by Jacques Cousteau.
The box set is limited to one pressing and comes with an MP3 download card.
Vocal trio Culture is one of those groups whose influence and greatness cannot be overstated. Formed in 1976 by Joseph Hill, Albert “Randolph” Walker and Kenneth Paley they dropped their prophetic international best selling debut album Two Sevens Clash in 1977.
Two Sevens Clash – produced by Joe Gibbs and Errol T – was dreader than dread with its skillful minor chord harmonies and apocalyptical lyrics.
Culture came around the same time as many other great vocal groups – Mighty Diamonds, Gladiators and The Wailing Souls to name a few. But something was different with Culture and front man Joseph Hill. They had a rawer energy and their lyrics were always conscious and dealt with Biblical prophecy, slavery, love and unity.
Now VP Records imprint 17 North Parade has done the world a great favour by releasing a Reggae Anthology box set called Culture at Joe Gibbs consisting of three full lenght Culture albums produced by the The Mighty Two.
The box set contains Two Sevens Clash, Baldhead Bridge, More Culture and a fourth disc – As Hard as the Rest – with singles and dub versions appearing on album for the first time. All in all 43 wicked tunes by one of the greatest reggae groups of all time.
The people at VP/17 North Parade also seem to read Reggaemani, since this box set is accompanied by a booklet with some nice liner notes by Harry Wise and also some album information.
Punk rockers all around took Culture to their hearts in the 70’s and celebrated the music. If you don’t already have these albums you should do as the punks – listen to Joseph Hill and Culture.