Music News


1977 was pivotal: Disco was becoming a major cultural force (impacting even the Rolling Stones with Some Girls) and there were strange rumblings in the U.S., the U.K., and Jamaica all based around new music. Brit punk rock and roots reggae were inextricably intertwined. Disenfranchised youths were attracted to the rebellious, "outsider" aspect of rough-hewn Jamaican sounds, and many bands were significantly inspired by them: the Clash, the Police, the Slits, and the Pop Group. One of the most momentous albums of the year, influencing all of these groups, was Two Sevens Clash by Jamaican vocal trio Culture. Exactly 30 years later, it's rightly being given the deluxe reissue treatment. The fact that the album is a pivotal classic is guaranteed by a unique confluence of qualities — lead singer Joseph Hill's slightly raggedy, young-Marvin Gaye vocals; the earthy, gospel-tinged harmonies of Albert Walker and Kenneth Days; deep grooves, crackling drumming; and infectious, bittersweet melodies (try to get "Calling Rastafarian" or "I'm Not Ashamed" out of your head after only one listen). There's also the righteously-earnest-but-not-overbearing Rastafarian fervor at the root of these recordings. This Anniversary Edition includes five bonus tracks, including two dub versions and two 12-inch mixes with I-Roy. Considering that Hill passed away unexpectedly last year, Two Sevens Clash (the title refers to the year '77) is an essential purchase for anyone cherishing true-school reggae.

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Mark Keresman