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Culture at Joe Gibbs

Culture at Joe Gibbs

Culture at Joe Gibbs

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Roots Rock classics from that golden age.


In 1976 Joseph Hill got together with Kenneth Dayes and his cousin Albert Walker to create one of arguably Jamaica’s finest harmony trios. They were originally known as the African Disciples but it was as Culture that they would make their everlasting mark.

Their songs, in the roots tradition, quickly became a part of the vibrant, politically charged reggae scene of the day and when in 1977 they released their debut album 'Two Sevens Clash' its success, especially with many disaffected youths in the UK, brought Culture to the attention of the mainstream and introduced them to wider international audience. Culture at Joe GibbsReggae was on the zenith of a golden period and Culture, despite a few personnel changes, rode that wave, with Joseph Hill constantly at the helm, further than most as they were constantly touring and continuing to spread their message right up until his sad passing in 2006. Now VP records are releasing a 4CD collection that reassembles three classic sets from that early period, all produced at Joe Gibbs and adds a forth disc featuring many tracks that are appearing on CD for the first time.

Now having just given 'Two Sevens Clash' a mighty entrance I was surprised to find that CD1 is in fact the following years follow up 'Baldhead Bridge'. That said this album did consolidate Culture in the position as one of Jamaica’s premier roots rock reggae vocal groups and is packed full of Rasta anthems including the joyous Jah Love, Them A Payaka, the dread nyabinghi of So Long Babylon A Fool I (And I) plus of course the title track with its nursery rhyme style chorus helping to emphasize the exultant message.

CD2 is 'More Culture' and is the one that almost got away. It was released at the dawn of dancehall in 1981, but Culture weren’t having any of it and were sticking to their roots, thus at the time it was somewhat overlooked. Of course as time passes and styles come and go this stunning set is now looked back on as a bona-fide roots & culture classic. Rasta anthems like Innocent Blood, More Vacancy, Play Skillfully and Callie Weed Song made that original and its limited release a much sought after album among collectors.

Time for CD3 and 'Two Sevens Clash', the title was taken from a Marcus Garvey prophecy about chaos erupting on 7/7/77. This powerful debut was the must have reggae accessory for any self respecting music fan in the UK, back in that long hot summer of ’77. Musicians on the album read like a veritable whose who of reggae with Sly Dunbar on drums, Lloyd Parks - bass, Robbie Shakespeare - Guitar and a horn section that consisted of Vin Gordon, Tommy McCook, Bobby Ellis and Herman Marquis supplying the riddims for their forthcoming anthems like See Them A Come, I Am Not Ashamed, Natty Dread Taking Over and the prophetic title track.

Culture albums

Bringing things nicely to close on CD4, 'As Hard As The Rest', VP have rounded up 17 non-album Joe Gibbs sides from Culture, including their debut Belmont single This Time and eleven dub versions, credited to the Mighty Two and Joe Gibbs & The Professionals. It is here that we hear the skills of Thompson and Gibbs at the mixing desk as they prove they can knob twiddle with the best of them. Versions of Informer and I Am Not Ashamed are as mad as any Upsetter dub, with the latter throwing down effects from car horns to running water and ringing telephones.

Whether you are a long time fan of Culture or just making your first in roads on the reggae path then this, along with VP’s 2008 'Culture & Friends – Culture and the Deejays at Joe Gibbs', showcases what is probably regarded as this trio’s finest work, a collection of classic roots, rockers from the golden age of reggae delivered by one of reggaes truly golden bands.

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