It’s hard to deny anything made by Culture between 1977 and 1979, an incredibly solid period for Culture and the Mighty Two (producers Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson). The rare Jamaican band to be picked up by Virgin and distributed through the US and the UK, it’s rumored that the name of their debut smash hit “Two Sevens Clash” even inspired the moniker of a little Joe Strummer-fronted outfit that I hear made a few waves in the early punk scene. Culture & The Deejays at Joe Gibbs 1977-1979 serves as a best-of compendium of sorts for the group in this era, but it’s as much about “The Deejays” as it is about Culture themselves.
That DJ list features popular MCs (I-Roy, Clint Eastwood) and unknowns alike (Bo Jangles, Clint Eastwood), who each take over at the direct middle of their given track to rant, rave, or rap over a dubbed out instrumental version of the track that precedes the DJ’s entrance. The version of “Two Seven Clash/ Prophesy Reveal” finds Bo Jangles getting righteous about peace through what sounds like a megaphone (“all brutality and war must come to a halt”), which seems to be an apology of sorts on the part of Hill, who caused a great deal of controversy with the single. Compiled from a series of rare 12″ singles (some for the first time on CD), most of the deejay versions aren’t as relevant to the originals as “Two Sevens Clash” though (the goofy sports announcer narration on “Zion Gate/ Forty Leg Dread” for instance) and some feature some pretty sloppy and obvious transitions from the original into their extensions. All in all though, it’s the rare case that you don’t want to hear any Culture song from this period go on longer than its intended duration