The first few albums by Joseph Hill and Culture were classic not only by virtue of the trio’s Afrocentric themes and hair-raising vocals, but because of the rockers riddims hardened by producer Joe Gibbs as well.
The tracks on this disc are extended mixes of select scorchers that originally appeared on the Two Sevens Clash, Baldhead Bridge and More Culture albums, with the main body of each song stretching into a dubbed-out section of deejay patter. The deejays include such giants as I-Roy, Prince Far I, Ranking Joe and Nicodemus and whether their additions elucidate further on the subject matter of the tune (such as Bo Jangles’ “Prophesy Reveal” tag on “Two Sevens Clash”) or simply add a new and clever dimension (U Brown proclaiming the need to “Rock it Up” as the riddim of “Innocent Blood” plays on), it’s a treat to hear these landmark songs expanded upon so. As mentioned in the liner notes, Culture never resorted to slackness in their music. Similarly, the grafted-on patter here keeps it sufficiently cultural even if the deejay involved is more intent upon expertly riding the riddim than preaching from a Rasta pulpit.
A newfound appreciation of the original songs results from immersing oneself in this collection, along with a sadly heightened realization of just how deeply reggae music was impacted by the deaths of Joseph Hill, Joe Gibbs and co-producer Errol Thompson. Blessings to the 17 North Parade reissue label for putting this out.