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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

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Culture
Two Sevens Clash
Shanachie

By Stacey Meyn

Published September 8, 2005

While Star Wars was changing the modern American mythos, Jamaica feared its own mythology regarding 1977. Rastafarians believed apocalypse arrived when “the sevens clashed,” deeming July 7 a date of infamy. It passed relatively uneventfully, but influenced former members of the African Disciples. A popular harmony trio led by Joseph Hill, Culture cut their seminal Two Sevens Clash at Kingston’s Joe Gibbs Recording Studio in 1978. Despite the ominous tone of their topic, Culture’s roots reggae was lighter and more hopeful than that of counterparts Burning Spear or the Abyssinians. Hill’s singsong style drew from Spear’s Winston Rodney, and the backup band was tremendous: Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, Eric “Bingy Bunny” Lamont, Uzziah “Sticky” Thompson, Tommy McCook, Bobby Ellis, Errol Thompson and on. The various contributions make Two Sevens Clash an eclectic record—opener “Get Ready To Ride The Lion To Zion” adds rocksteady and the electro of the time. “See Dem a Come” rocks, and “Natty Dread Taking Over” dabbles in big-band. The title track proved optimistic, escaping the minor key dirges often fueling roots reggae. Sadly, by the big ’80s, the group had shown Gibbs the door and adopted diet-reggae.

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