Two Sevens Clash | Shanachie
By AMANDA PRESTON  |  July 9, 2007
3.5 3.5 Stars
The prophecy of Apocalypse in the title single from this legendary session was enough to bring Kingston to a standstill on July 7, 1977. Lead singer and songwriter Joseph Hill’s Marcus Garvey–inspired Afrocentric politics and Rastafarian spiritualism made for a potent mix in the racially torn city during that election year. It was also a musical breakthrough for Hill and vocal trio Culture (with Kenneth Dayes and Albert Walker). Here are the African-influenced vocal harmonies and the relaxed rocksteady beat that succeeded ska, as well as a mix of big-band swing, R&B, and calypso that we tend to think of now as classic reggae. Hill’s lyrics, in a lighter contrast to the angry sounds of Black Uhuru and Burning Spear, poignantly highlight aspects of Jamaica’s history in the social climate of the time. On the upbeat “The Black Starliner Must Come” (a reference to Garvey’s dream of a shipping line to bring black Jamaicans home to Africa), when Hill sings “I meekly wait and murmur not/For the Black Starliner shall come” over percolating soul organ, guitars, and R&B horn riffs, you can hear gospel-infused faith and joy amid the defiance. This 30th-anniversary edition includes previously unreleased remixes, dub versions, and liner notes by the likes of Lenny Kaye, Joe Gibbs, and Sly Dunbar. It’s a reggae benchmark more valuable than ever following Hill’s death last year.
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