Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wat A Liiv An Bambaie

Culture : Two Sevens Clash

In 1977 the Jamaican roots reggae band Culture released their debut album, a worldwide hit called Two Sevens Clash. The Clash were big fans of the album, and not just because of its name. Reggae had become a favorite form of music for punk artists from John Lydon to Joe Strummer to Ari Upp of the Slits.

The album is named for its title cut, a prophecy of doom which might make you wonder whether the album is going to be any fun.  After all, the apocalypse doesn't really seem to mix with easy skanking. 

The liner notes read:

"One day 9 (lead singer) Joseph Hill had a vision, while riding a bus, of 1977 as a year of judgment -- when two sevens clash -- when past injustices would be avenged. Lyrics and melodies came into his head as he rode and thus was born the song "Two Sevens Clash" which became a massive hit in reggae circles both in Jamaica and abroad. The prophecies noted by the lyrics so profoundly captured the imagination of the people that on July 7, 1977 - the day when sevens fully clashed (seventh day, seventh month, seventy-seventh year) a hush descended on Kingston; many people did not go outdoors, shops closed, an air of foreboding and expectation filled the city."

But what I wanted to say is --despite all the doom and gloom in the title cut--Two Sevens Clash is full of joy.  A must own album for any reggae fan.

The legendary rock critic Robert Christgau agrees, giving the album an A+ rating: 

Previously U.S.-available only as an import if at all, this even more than early Spear is the wellspring of the roots apocalypse that detonated the lion's share of great late reggae. Imagine a man from the hills sitting on a bus in Kingston and possessed by a vision: 1977, the year of the beast, the two sevens come down in all their numerological fury. No wonder every catchphrase sounds like God's word: this is where the Black Starliner and calling Rastafari became the moon-June-spoon of a music industry. The melodies are indelible, the rhythms early Drumbar, the ululations Winston Rodney gone all childlike and lyrical, at least seven tracks absolute classics. One of the ten best reggae albums ever made, says Shanachie's Randall Grass, but he has to watch his credibility. Bob Marley aside, it's the best, and I've been putting Bob Marley aside for it since 1977.

1 comment:

  1. Yes yes yes. One of the best reggae albums ever recorded. Full of joy, as you say.