Staff Picks: Music

In Concert: Culture

Kalamazoo’s annual Island Festival always features some of the finest reggae acts in the world. This year’s festival features a very special performance – Saturday night, Jamaica’s legendary roots reggae harmony trio Culture takes the festival stage. Creators of dozens of brilliant singles and long players since their formation in the 1970’s, they would be hailed as legends even if they’d never released anything beyond their very first LP, Two Sevens Clash, widely considered one of reggae’s true masterworks.

Culture’s lead vocalist Joseph Hill wrote the title track after having a vision of the year 1977 being a year of judgment on Earth (based on prophecies made by Marcus Garvey). A devout Rastafarian (along with his fellow band mates), Hill translated his vision of apocalypse into a song which became a massive hit in his home country in the early part of ‘77. So profound was its effect on listeners that, on July 7th, 1977 – the day of all sevens clashing - many Jamaican businesses stayed closed, and residents refused to leave their homes for fear of being swept up in the coming apocalypse. Though the infectious bounce of the song’s groove and its joyous musical hooks might strike non-believers as running counter to the subject matter, the celebratory sound really underscores the message of liberation that followers of Rastafari believe will come at the world’s end. That mixture of devotional lyricism and upbeat music and rhythm flows throughout every song included on the album.

Though Joseph Hill has passed on, his son Kenyatta has taken his place as Culture’s lead vocalist, alongside original harmony vocalists Albert Walker and Telford Nelson. Kenyatta has proven to be as dynamic a stage presence as his father, so Culture’s legacy will surely continue to grow, even as Two Sevens Clash has already guaranteed their place in the pantheon of reggae greats.

Music

Two Sevens Clash
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Comments

I remember ordering Two Sevens Clash as an import when it came out. There was an incredible buzz about the album at the time. Definitely a fave.
Unbelievable! I am reading this on Monday and can't express the regret that I'm feeling from not even knowing that the absolutely legendary Culture played in Kalamazoo over the past weekend. I can think of only one peice of news that would be worse and that would be if you told me that the king - mr. Lee 'Scratch' Perry had played. That would be almost too much to bear.
sounds like a great event not to miss. I remember the 3 day weekend Reggae festival in Northern Cal. Reggae on the River which was pretty cool.
two seven clash is definitely a landmark of hill joseph reggae music and one of the most representative voices .. or long it had in Argentina where he could enjoy. performing culture issues! is that they are a pleasure to listen live genuine natural. to a picture I've taken with the great Joseph. as media worker radioales of Argentina such as rototom sunsplash http://www.positiveradioreggae.com and I had the pleasure of knowing him through the tour they did with Nonpalidece one of the best Latin American bands! .. Bless friends and good news for all reggae is culture!Regardsss

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