Culture 

Two Sevens Clash: The 30th Anniversary Edition (Shanachie)

There were unusual alliances in the very Us vs. Them era of the 1977-81 punk rock upheaval. While many punks urinated on most music made before 1976 (when Ramones debuted), Johnny Rotten/John Lydon expressed admiration for Neil Young, while Young name-checked Rotten in a song and expressed a fondness for Devo. In the UK (and to a lesser extent in America), punk and reggae were virtually allies — lots of England's disaffected youth embraced reggae's "outsider" (i.e., Rastafarian) status and cavernously deep, stealthy rhythms. UK bands unabashedly drew inspiration from reggae: the Clash, the Police, the Ruts, the Pop Group (in the US: Pere Ubu, SF's the Offs). One particularly classic album from that period is Two Sevens Clash by Jamaican vocal trio Culture, and time has not dimmed its vigor. Lead singer Joseph Hill sang of his Rasta convictions in a slightly ragged, exultantly soulful croon, and the bittersweet harmonies of Kenneth Dayes and Albert Walker echoed American gospel as well as '60s soul vocal groups such as the Impressions. Sevens is brimming with sinuous grooves, crackling drumming, and lingering melodies (try to get "Calling Rastafari" or "Black Starliner Must Come" out of your head after only one listen). This Anniversary Edition features five bonus tracks — dub versions and 12-inch extended mixes with singer/toaster I Roy. Beautifully remastered, Two Sevens Clash (referring to the year "'77") is a crucial set for anyone relishing reggae music and its cultural impact.

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