Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 12/27/10

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues as it does every day, all the way to #1. Monday’s album is #764:

Culture – Two Sevens Clash

On a day like today, in the northeastern United States anyway, we need an album like this one, warm and summery. This one will help you pretend you’re in Jamaica instead of dis year Babylon, yeah mon! Ironically, this is a concept album about the apocalypse. 7/7/77 in Jamaica was a day of dread, especially for Rastas – a lot of people thought the day of judgment was at hand, and its anthem was this album’s blithely ominous title track. The rest of it is some of the best roots reggae ever recorded, frontman Joseph Hill’s defiant back-to-Africa and sufferah’s ballads pulsing along on the beat of Sly Dunbar’s drums and Robbie Shakespeare’s fat bass, with soaring harmonies, chirpy keyboards and pinging guitars: psychedelic pop, Jamdown style. The downbeat stuff – See Dem a Come, I’m Alone in the Wilderness and Pirate Days – is every bit as memorable and catchy as the triumphant songs: Get Ready to Ride the Lion to Zion, Black Starliner Must Come, Natty Dread Taking Over, Calling Rastafari and I’m Not Ashamed. Culture would continue to tour and record (although Hill’s first-rate songs suffered more and more from cheesy production as the years went on) until his death in 2006. His son Kenyatta Hill now leads a revamped version of the band. Here’s a random torrent.

December 27, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, reggae music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review from the Archives: Culture at Irving Plaza, NYC 6/13/98

The redesign of the venue detracts from its previously scrungy charm: the Nazi behind the bar wouldn’t sell any $7 Rolling Rocks to anyone without ID, a somewhat nasty discovery for audience members with cottonmouth. From the pungent scent of ganja wafting throughout the club, there were more than a few. Arrived in time to catch Ithaca roots reggae act John Brown’s Body deliver an excellent, hypnotic, horn-driven closing tune: must check this band out at some point. This edition of Culture has reliably impassioned lead singer Joseph Hill backed by just a lone harmony singer now, in addition to two keyboardists (one with some shockingly authentic-sounding horn patches), guitarist and rhythm section. Only one guitar solo all night long, during I’m Not Ashamed, which was far superior to the metal stuff their previous axeman used to play on this song. They did lots of old stuff: Chiney Man, Get Ready to Ride the Lion to Zion, an abbreviated version of the classic, apocalyptic Two Sevens Clash (just the first two verses and choruses), Be Honest With Yourself, Addis Abbaba and International Herb with a short chant/refrain of “legalize it” at the end. They didn’t do Riverside, strange since the video is a big Rockers TV hit. Give thanks and praise to H.I.M. Haile I Selassie I for jah music.

[postscript: Joseph Hill collapsed and died shortly after finishing a show in Germany in 2006. The remaining members finished the tour with Hill’s son Kenyatta on lead vocals, subsequently disbanded and then reunited for a 2009 tour. John Brown’s Body continue to carry the torch of classic roots reggae with a hypnotic brilliance matched by few bands alive today]

June 13, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, reggae music, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment