Archive for the Culture Category

Joseph Hill (as Prince Mohammed) – Informer + Version (1977)

Posted in Culture, Errol Thompson, Joe Gibbs, Studio One with tags , , , on February 6, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“In just a few years after its birth, the reggae sound has changed face more times than Cher did in two decades. Reggay from 1968 and reggae from, say, 1976 are worlds apart, yet it is always identified as reggae. Of course that’s because the basis is always the same and it’s toying with what’s on top of that footing that makes it sound different. Taking the Jamaican music scene in mind – almost fully based in Kingston, evolving around a few key players and in constant search of inspiration, innovation and progress – it makes perfect sense that reggae was always in motion. Just look at dub, for instance; a truly unique sound that was borne from sheer creativity. It has many founding fathers, all of whom took the idea and transformed it into something else completely – shaking up the entire music world in the process. Or take the art of toasting – also the fruit of creativity, cross pollination and ‘out of the box’ thinking – which was strictly a yard thing before some smart producers, like Keith Hudson, took the deejays in and recorded them on wax. Unleashing a whole a new spectrum of opportunities, styles and ideas.

In a music scene where being unparalleled makes you stand out from the crowd, you’ve got to trod barren land. If that means dragging a bike in the studio, like Hudson did, creating new drum patterns or relicking old riddims: it’s all part in the evolution of reggae.  Thus, it also makes perfect sense for artists to try their hand at something new. Something fresh. Like deejays trying to sing, drummers acting as a bassie or singers who take a shot at riding a riddim. It’s a favourite topic and a popular game among reggae fans: to name the songs by singers or deejays in which they switch trades.  The obvious ones always come up first, like George Nooks who is also known as Prince Mohammed; Scotty, who sang with The Federals and The Chosen Few before drawing his breaks and start over, riddling his way into a blossoming career as a deejay; Doctor Alimentado, who sang a heartfelt tribute to being alive after severely crashing his bike and spending a long time in the hospital; and Big Youth, who started singing after his deejay career had made him a superstar. The less obvious ones can win you the game, like Dennis Brown, John Holt, Horsemouth Wallace, Alton Ellis and Joseph Hill.

Starting out as a percussionist with Studio One band Soul Defenders, Joseph Hill eventually took up the mic and recorded a solo effort  in 1972. By 1976 Joseph Hill was no longer performing at Studio One, but had teamed up with Albert Walker and Kenneth Dayes (and possibly a fourth member) and had formed a group called The African Disciples – a militant group of devout rastafarians who conveyed the lessons and beliefs of Marcus Garvey in almost every song they wrote. Strongly based on Burning Spear’s style, they found themselves hanging around the Joe Gibbs camp – by then a leading producer. Legend has it they were quite reluctant to record, but Blacka Morwell convinced them to do it anyway and also persuaded them to change their name. Despite singing about heavy topics such as religion, protest and sufferation, Culture broke through big time when they recorded songs like Two Sevens Clash and See Them a come. The songwriting skills of Hill, the magic of Errol Thompson on the board and the craftmanship of the Professionals struck a chord with reggae fans all over the world and was instrumental in marrying punk with roots reggae.

Despite bearing a credit to Prince Mohammed (again) the deejay version of See them a come is obviously not recorded by Prince Mohammed. One thing that truly set Culture apart from the rest was Jospeh Hill’s unique timbre – a tad nasal, crystal clear and second to none. It’s the same timbre that is on display on ‘Informer’ and if it’s not that, than surely the lyrics must give away that it is indeed mister Hill testing his skills as a deejay here. Although slightly loosing track every now and then, he’s doing a good job. A strong believer in the power of music and passionate by nature, Joseph Hill sounds comfortable and delivers with ‘Informer’ a heavy, militant, fun and upbeat rockers tune. Indeed, the exact same ingredients that made Culture so great a reggae group.  Well, that and a top class Sound Dimension riddim of course. Joseph Hill would take up the deejay mic again when Culture left Gibbs for Sonia Pottinger and recorded Production Something, which, needless to say, again sounds different from what’s on display here. After all, it’s reggae, you know?”
Pressure Beat (Video)


YouTube: Joseph Hill (as Prince Mohammed) – Informer + Version

Culture – Too Long in Slavery (1989)

Posted in Culture, Robbie Shakespeare, Sly Dunbar, Sonia Pottinger with tags , , , on January 16, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“This 13-track compilation is culled from Culture’s three Front Line releases — Harder Than the Rest, Cumbolo, and International Herb. All three date from 1978-79, and were overseen by producer Sonia Pottinger. Pottinger had risen in the rocksteady age and was famed for her straightforward, almost gentle, productions, which placed the focus on the singers, not the rhythms or studio effects. She remained a force into the roots age, even while she eschewed the dread sound so popular in the day. Thus, although thematically Culture was a deeply dread band, and were accompanied in the studio by some of the island’s heaviest hitting roots musicians, all bolstered by the rhythms of Sly & Robbie, these albums had a much lighter musical feel than most cultural offerings from this time. But the lightness nicely counterpoints Joseph Hill’s deeply dread lyrics and Albert Walker and Kenneth Paley’s sublime harmonies, as the trio offered up cultural and sufferer’s songs, fueled by their deeply held Rastafarian beliefs. … The rest of this is set is equally strong, and includes the highlights from this trio of high-quality albums.”

“… Despite backing from the rhythmic powerhouse that is Sly & Robbie the bulk of these trackseschew the heavy productions so prevalent of the era. Dub influence is conspicuous by its absence, save for the closing ‘Citizen As A Peaceful Dub.’ Indeed, Culture were very much about the dread lyrics of Joseph Hill and here, above all else, the message is king. Equal rights and cultural emancipation for Rastafarians is the order of the day in Hill’s strictly narrative flow. Such narrow themes could make for a fairly dense listen but repeated plays reveal hidden subtleties – not least the broad scope of the production where all varieties of instrumentation weave into the mix. …”

YouTube: Too Long in Slavery FULL LONGPLAY (1977-1979)

Culture & Prince Mohammed – Zion Gate – Forty Leg Dread (1977)

Posted in Culture, DJ, Dub, Joe Gibbs, Studio One with tags , , , , on October 21, 2016 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Culture updates the Paragons’ classic Studio One rocksteady anthem ‘My satisfaction‘ and turn it into a real roots reggae ‘n rockers tune. The superb ‘Zion Gate’ owes a lot to its blueprint, but both Joseph Hill and Lloyd’s Parks’ Professionals add enough of their own to mold it into something truly unique. So much so, in fact, that the tune inspired a whole series of next cuts, still going on well into the 2000’s, all bearing ‘Zion Gate’ as name for the riddim, rather than ‘My satisfaction.’ …”
Pressure Beat
YouTube: Culture & Prince Mohammed – Zion Gate – Forty Leg Dread, Joe Gibbs & The Professionals – Zion Rock

Culture – International Herb (1979)

Posted in Culture with tags on April 29, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“African-American R&B has affected different reggae artists in different ways. While Toots and the Maytals’ gritty ska/reggae is comparable to the raw, tough southern soul that Wilson Picket, Sam & Dave and Otis Redding were known for, Culture’s sweet, mellifluous style of reggae is closer to the northern soul and sweet soul that came out of Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit in the ’60s and ’70s. On International Herb, ones hears a lot of northern soul influence, as well as Afro-Caribbean and African pop influences. Although not in a class with Two Sevens Clash or Baldhead Bridge, International Herb is a respectable, pleasing effort that Culture fans were glad to acquire. Virgin’s original LP version of International Herb generated some controversy thanks to its front cover, which showed Culture’s members smoking large spliffs while standing in front of a tall, bushy marijuana plant. Marijuana advocates loved the cover, marijuana opponents hated it and Libertarians defended Culture’s right to free speech — even if they were Libertarian teetotalers who wouldn’t dream of touching a spliff themselves. The title song is unapologetically pro-marijuana, while other noteworthy tracks (including ‘Ethiopians Waan Guh Home,’ ‘Rally Around Jahovah’s Throne’ and ‘Jah Rastafari’) put forth a very Rastafarian message. International Herb falls short of essential, but it’s an enjoyable illustration of the group’s talents.”

YouTube: International Herb [FULL ALBUM HQ]

Culture – Good Things (1989)

Posted in Channel One, Culture with tags , on March 23, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Culture delivers a stellar album and reinvents the sound of reggae along the way under the guiding hand of member Joseph Hill’s phenomenal arrangements and productions. The entire set has a massive density to the sound, hearkening back to the heyday of roots; the coursing rhythms pay homage to the rockers style, while the ebullient brass section conjures up the heady melodies of the rocksteady age. The musicianship is superb, drummer Michael Freckles McKenzie and percussionist Francisco Fuzzy Thompson slamming down the driving beats, as Ian Watson winds his sinuous, throbbing bass around them; the trio’s scintillating rhythms underpin the entire set. Overhead, keyboardist Norman Milo Douglas adds more contemporary electronic effects, while simultaneously riffing along with the melody, taking his inspiration from Jackie Mittoo, his superb efforts echoed by expert axeman Frederick Thomas. Together the band rivals the stirring and melody-laced backings of Channel One at its height. But it’s the brilliant use of brass that takes the sound to a whole new level. …”

YouTube: Culture – Good things FULL ALBUM 1989
1. Hand ‘A Bowl 0:00 2. Good Things 3:43 3. Love Music 7:50 4. Psalm Of Bob Marley 13:30 5. Cousin Rude Boy 7:24 6. Youthman Move 21:18 7. Righteous Loving 26:40 8. Chanting On 30:41 9. Rude Boy Dub 35:31 10. Chant A Dub 39:24 11. A Dub Of Bob Marley 44:10 12. Good Good Dub 48:04

Culture in Dub: 15 Dub Shots (1994)

Posted in Culture, Dub, Robbie Shakespeare, Sly Dunbar with tags , , , on August 11, 2013 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Dub, by its very nature, downplays the importance of the vocalist, instead focusing attention on the producer, who remixes instrumental tracks by adding layers of reverb, echo, chorus, flange, and other psychedelic effects to make the music sound like reggae beamed in from the vast expanses of outer space. But Culture has always been best-known for their harmony-filled roots reggae anthems, and any album that finds their great vocals buried is bound to suffer. That said, Culture in Dub: 15 Dub Shots does highlight the trancelike properties inherent in their music, and spacious grooves courtesy of reggae legends Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare make the album well worth a listen.”

YouTube: Mosiah Rockers, Apply Within, Hola Mt Zion, Dub Weeping, Dub Shine Bright

Culture – Baldhead Bridge (1978)

Posted in Culture, Joe Gibbs, Sly Dunbar, Tommy McCook with tags , , , on July 10, 2013 by 1960s: Days of Rage

Culture - Baldhead Bridge (Joe Gibbs 1978 First Edition)
“Culture’s Joe Gibbs-produced sessions of 1976 not only resulted in Two Sevens Clash — they also gave us the excellent Baldhead Bridge. A true reggae classic, Baldhead Bridge points to the fact that Culture was among the most distinctive reggae acts to emerge in the ’70s. Although Culture was influenced by Burning Spear, treasures like ‘Them a Payaka,’ ‘Jah Love’ and ‘Love Shines Brighter’ point to the fact that Culture’s music is quite recognizable itself. The group gets a lot of its sweetness from the northern soul and sweet soul of the ’60s and ’70s — while hearing this LP, listeners are reminded of the impact that the Delfonics, the Impressions and other soul favorites had on reggae. But Culture’s sound also owes a debt to Afro-Caribbean music and African pop. Put all those influences together, and you have a group that sounded incredibly fresh to the many reggae fans who discovered its music in the late ’70s. Like Two Sevens Clash, Baldhead Bridge is among Culture’s most essential releases.”

Baldhead Bridge is the second album by Jamaican roots reggae band Culture, with Joseph Hill on lead vocals, released on the Shanachie label in 1978 (see 1978 in music). As with the band’s debut, Two Sevens Clash, the album was recorded in Kingston at the studio of producer Joe Gibbs, who also produced the album. The band accompanying the trio on this recording was The Professionals, including such reggae luminaries as Sly and Robbie, Tommy McCook and Bobby Ellis.”

YouTube: Behold I Come, Zion Gate, So Long Babylon a Fool I (And I), Them A Payaka, Baldhead Bridge, Love Shines Brighter, Jah Love, How Can I Leave Jah, Wah Gwan

Two Sevens Clash – Culture (1977)

Posted in Culture, Dub, Joe Higgs, Marcus Garvey, Rastafarians with tags , , , , on January 15, 2013 by 1960s: Days of Rage

Two Sevens Clash is the debut album by roots reggae band Culture, recorded with producer Joe Gibbs at his own Joe Gibbs Recording Studio in Kingston in 1976, and released on Gibbs’ eponymous label in 1977 (see 1977 in music). The album’s title is a reference to the date of July 7, 1977. Hill said ‘Two Sevens Clash,’ Culture’s most influential record, was based on a prediction by Marcus Garvey, who said there would be chaos on July 7, 1977, when the ‘sevens’ met. With its apocalyptic message, the song created a stir in his Caribbean homeland and many Jamaican businesses and schools shuttered their doors for the day.”

“One of the masterpieces of the roots era, no album better defines its time and place than Two Sevens Clash, which encompasses both the religious fervor of its day and the rich sounds of contemporary Jamaica. Avowed Rastafarians, Culture had formed in 1976, and cut two singles before beginning work on their debut album with producers the Mighty Two (aka Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson). Their second single, ‘Two Sevens Clash,’ would title the album and provide its focal point. The song swept across the island like a wildfire, its power fed by the apocalyptic fever that held the island in its clutches throughout late 1976 and into 1977. (Rastafarians believed the apocalypse would begin when the two sevens clashed, with July 7, 1977, when the four sevens clashed, the most fearsome date of concern.) However, the song itself was fearless, celebrating the impending apocalypse, while simultaneously reminding listeners of a series of prophesies by Marcus Garvey and twinning them to the island’s current state. For those of true faith, the end of the world did not spell doom, but release from the misery of life into the eternal and heavenly arms of Jah. Thus, Clash is filled with a sense of joy mixed with deep spirituality, and a belief that historical injustice was soon to be righted. The music, provided by the Revolutionaries, perfectly complements the lyrics’ ultimate optimism, and is quite distinct from most dread albums of the period.”

“For all its Biblical heft– the title was taken from a Marcus Garvey prophecy about chaos erupting on 7/7/77— Culture’s reggae classic Two Sevens Clash, like Funkadelic or gospel, took suffering as a means for uplift. Re-sequenced from its original running order, this 30th Anniversary Edition opens with ‘I’m Alone in the Wilderness’, which singer Joseph Hill does appear to be, for about 20 seconds. The minor key screws up to major, and the second time Hill claims solitude, he’s joined by Albert Walker and Kenneth Dayes; Robbie Shakespeare’s guitar nods in repose with the rootsiness of a Band record; wet organs drone in the background; an electric piano punctuates Hill’s exultations; Sly Dunbar clacks along on drums like their bejeweled rickshaw.”

YouTube: Calling Rastafari, I’m Alone In The Wilderness, Pirate Days, Two Sevens Clash, I’m Not Ashamed, Get Ready To Ride The Lion To Zion, Black Starliner Must Come, See Them A Come, Natty Dread Taking Over, Not Ashamed Dub

I’m not ashamed (Live)