Monday, 2 November 2009

High Culture

In 1978 Culture were on a roll.

Culture, essentially a three-piece vocal harmony group lead by Joseph Hill, had experienced success working with the legendary producer Joe Gibbs who had help cut their first two albums; and in 1978 were about to adopt a long and fruitful relationship with the hardest working woman in the Jamaican music business: Sonia Pottinger.

But between working with those two great producers (and some mighty musicians: Sly and Robbie, Lloyd Parks, 'Sticky' Thompson, Tommy McCook, to name but a few) Culture found themselves with time to spare; so they utilized it in the studio; cutting new tracks with a collective of unknown musicians and inexperienced production engineers.

Virgin Records, motivated by their success with punk, were hunting for authentic roots and reggae acts, and soon whisked Culture into the Treasure Isle Recording Studios; married them up with Pottinger and together recorded Culture's first album for their reggae label Front Line.

The result was Harder Than The Rest, a very safe West-friendly sound - to my ear it sounds like an attempt to jump on the Peter Tosh bandwagon - launching a very differently styled Culture; a sound that was quite far removed from their other two L.P. releases.

However, at the same time Harder Than The Rest was released, an unofficial recording became available; one that captured that time in the studio before hooking up with Virgin.

And despite the lack of big name producers or immensely skillful session musicians, Africa Stand Alone is by far the superior of the two releases.
It benefits enormously from the hands off approach, allowing for a deeply soulful and live sounding delivery of gorgeous melodic roots numbers.

There is some occasional brass, but primarily this is a very stripped down recording. Even the production is light, and the desk only really comes into play during the final track, with dub music forming the outro.

Culture never sounded so beautiful.

Culture - Africa Stand Alone (1978)

Love Shines Brighter
This Train
Dog Ago Nyam Dog
Tell Me Where You Get It
More Vacency
Iron Sharpen Iron
Garvey Rock
Innocent Blood
Behold The Land

Technically a bootleg album, this has not been released on CD.
Several of the tracks were re-recorded for Harder Than The Rest; they make interesting comparisons.
This 320 rip comes from a very fat vinyl copy released by April Records, a subsidiary of Dragon Music.
There is a little crackle on the ins and outs, but in the main sounds deep and heavenly.
Get yourself Cultured here


YoungMossTongue said...

wonderful stuff sir... i'm sick, this helps... Mxxx

roy rocket said...

I'm sorry to hear that.
May this bring you relief.

I sincerely hope you're soon well.
Best wishes, roy

Sir Charlie Palmer said...

Cheers dude, like youngmoss tongue I am also sick. you have brought joy to a man who is very down at the moment

charlie said...

Nice one, what a great group

Anonymous said...

lovely mate... two sevens clash was a seminal album for me BITD.this is a beatiful/uplifting recording.cheers.x

Anonymous said...

Really looking forward to hearing this. Thank you for the opportunity

gclot said...

righteous sounds. love the vinyl cracks & pops; roots music should be heard this way.

bit more info about this release here


roy rocket said...

Glad you all liking this.
I agree; crackles and pops only add to this recording's authenticity.
And a 320 vinyl rip nearly always sounds better than a reissued CD, in my very 'umble...
Rastafari! roy

. said...


I actually had a copy of this back in the day - although I don't think it was a bootleg? It was the heaviest slab of vinyl I ever owned, and it was nicked at a party, like most things were back then.

Incredibly great playing, immaculate harmonies ... thanks a million for this!

roy rocket said...

A bootleg due to its status as an unofficial release: away from the Virgin Mother.
Pleasure, roy

. said...

I'd appreciate some suggestions for adding to my reggae/dub list. I'm not an expert - far from it - but I regularly listen to these albums:
2 Sevens Clash - Culture
Pick A Dub/Flesh Of My Flesh - Keith Hudson
Heart Of The Congos - The Congos
Arkology - Lee Perry
Marcus Garvey/Garvey's Ghost - Burning Spear
Catch A Fire - original version - Bob Marley

- and I'd like more with the same feel. You know - stoned and blissful, anything in a deep smoky groove. Any ideas welcome!

roy rocket said...

In terms of old school reggae I'd recommend Black Uhuru - a couple of albums which can be found on here; also visit 'Young Moss Tongue' for their superb 'Black Sounds of Freedom'.
Anything by Augustus Pablo or Dillinger, and everything from Linton Kwesi Johnson.
Also worth a visit is the Devotional hooligan over at 'My Little Bubble' he has some fine old school (both those blogs can be linked from my labels over there on the left).
As for new school: The Orb of course, Jah Wobble (check out 'Without Judgement': one I posted earlier) and try Dub Foundation.
And if you like a bit of crusty dub, and who doesn't, taste some Terminal Cheesecake & tune into RDF.
Should keep you going...
Happy listening, roy

Peter said...

Beautiful - thanks very much!

Anonymous said...

.said, a few more recommendations:

Yabby U - Jesus Dread on Blood & Fire
Lee Scratch Perry - Open The Gate (Trojan 2CD)
Hugh Mundell - Africa Must Be Free by 1983
The Wailing Souls - Wild Suspense
any decent Horace Andy compilation, Skylarking for example.