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» BREAKING NEWS, Featured » FORTY YEARS LATER, CULTURE’S “TWO SEVENS CLASH” STILL LOOMS LARGE!

FORTY YEARS LATER, CULTURE’S “TWO SEVENS CLASH” STILL LOOMS LARGE!

By Vincent Harris—

 

Marcus Garvey, the activist who was one of the most important early voices in black nationalism, is considered a hero by many in his adopted country of America. But among those of the Rastafarian faith in Garvey’s birthplace of Jamaica, he’s considered a prophet, a man whose vision of a powerful black pride partially fueled Jamaica’s push towards independence in the early 1960’s.

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Garvey had a vision of an apocalyptic event that would set the world into chaos on July 7, 1977, or 7/7/77. This vision inspired Joseph Hill of the Jamaican roots-reggae group Culture to write and record a revolutionary single called “Two Sevens Clash,” a song that envisioned 1977 as a “year of judgment.”

Weaving together the tenets of Rastafarian belief and revolutionary rhetoric, the song, recorded and released independently by producer Joe Gibbs, became a sensation in Jamaica. In fact, the song was such a massive hit that the capital city of Kingston practically shut down on July 7, with many citizens staying indoors for fear of the apocalypse to come.

That phenomenon was a startling statement about the overwhelming influence of the Rastafarian faith on the island nation, and the demand for more material from Culture was so great that Hill and his bandmates Albert Walker and Kenneth Dayes quickly re-entered the studio. They crafted nine more tracks of stripped-down, vocal-harmony-drenched roots-reggae, calling the resulting album by the name of their famous song. Their music quickly crossed over to Europe, inspiring members of the original wave of punk rock — like The Clash’s Joe Strummer and the Sex Pistols’ John Lydon, who encouraged Virgin Records owner Richard Branson to fly the band in and sign them.

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Culture

In the intervening years since the album was released, its reputation has only grown stronger. A retrospective review by AllMusic says the album is “filled with a sense of joy mixed with deep spirituality, and a belief that historical injustice was soon to be righted.” Legendary critic Robert Christgau, upon the album’s belated U.S. release in 1987, said it “may be the very best reggae album ever made.”

Despite the fact that the album was never a best-seller in America, its influence has been nearly as widespread as it was in Jamaica and Europe.

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