Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 1998


While riding a bus in Kingston one afternoon in 1977, Culture's lead singer and songwriter Joseph Hill had a startling vision of an upcoming date: the seventh of July. He was inspired to compose a song, "Two Sevens Clash," which was played on the radio - when that date rolled around, many Jamaicans stayed indoors. Such is the power of Joseph Hill's songs.

Hill began his career in 1972 at Studio One, with "Behold the Land," backed the Soul Defenders. Circa 1975 he was joined by Kenneth Dailey and Albert Walker, and the trio called themselves "Culture." The trio started with producer producer Joe Gibbs and engineer Errol Thompson, who both immediately recognized their harmonic talent and songwriting skills in 1975, backed by the rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Lloyd Parks, hitting with "Conqueror," "I'm Not Ashamed," and a host of others. "Two Sevens Clash" was released on an album of the same name, and soared to the top of the Jamaican and Caribbean charts, where it stayed for many months. It was a raw, challenging and original vision in reggae; and Culture's African sound and awareness of history appealed enormously to "sufferers" everywhere - even the U.S. and the U.K., where it was played at virtually every punk rock party for the next three years.

In 1982, Hill went solo for a brief period, and re-united with former Soul Defenders to record the excellent Lion Rock LP (Heartbeat).

In many ways, Culture is the epitome of Roots Reggae, with their "dread" sensibility, but Hill's songwriting and composing skills are profound - his words remain in your head while his melodies keep your feet and legs skanking. With over 10 albums and hundreds of thousands of miles behind him, Joseph Hill has brought his energetic stage presence and insightful wit to thousands the world over. His latest release, "One Stone," characteristically stands out in a world of numerous, hurried reggae releases, and leaves no doubt as to the nature of his commitment to reggae - serious, thoughtful, witty, yet musically vibrant.

Today, Hill trods on with Albert Walker with no end in sight, bringing Culture everywhere.

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