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2023 Albums Thing 090 - Culture “Two Sevens Clash”

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Marcus Garvey prophesied…” a lyric to be heard in more than one Roots Reggae lyric (including in a roundabout way on this record) but Marcus Garvey did prophesy that on the date July 7th 1977 (7-7-77), or when the two sevens clash, something apocalyptic would happen. It was a warning given great credence by the followers of Rastafari. Kingston in Jamaica pretty much closed down on that day, just in case. As we now know nothing apocalyptic occurred. But during the previous year Culture recorded this album, one of the most groundbreaking and important Roots records, based on the prophesy, so every cloud huh ?

Culture were a vocal harmony trio of Joseph Hill, Albert "Ralph" Walker and Roy "Kenneth" Dayes. The album was produced and arranged by Joe Gibbs at his famed studio on Retirement Crescent in Kingston with a band that included Reggae heavyweights Sly and Robbie on bass and drums, “Bubbler” Wall on keyboards and Tommy McCook on sax. It is every little bit as wonderful as those ingredients suggest it should be.

Singer Joseph Hill had a vision

"One day 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"…

That title songs is one of the high points of 70’s Reggae “Wat a liiv an bambaie, When the two sevens clash” or more literally, "What is left for by and by", "What will be left" when the two sevens clash, all set to the most uplifting synth line and wah-wah guitars, it’s pop genius, no wonder it was so massive in Jamaica.

The album on release caught the ear of the Jamaican public. Its mixture of Roots groove, modern synth driven melody and religious fervour helped amplify Garvey’s message. It made its way to England where it was picked up on by the likes of Joe Strummer, Johnny Rotten and Don Letts who passed it’s message to the Punks, rebel music you could dance to.

A re-issue in 1988 somehow flipped the sides of the original Jamaican release so instead of the title song being in the middle of Side 1 it becomes the penultimate song on Side 2. It was reissued on 7/7/07 (see what they tried to do there) with yet another track order. Whichever version you end up with, it’s a wonderful, wonderful record.

Two Sevens Clash - https://youtu.be/B_As8klSABs

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