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World Peace

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Album Review

While Culture has made a handful of truly outstanding albums over the course of its 27-year career, it has always had a little bit of trouble emerging from the shadow of Two Sevens Clash, its epoch-making sophomore album from 1977 (even the press materials for World Peace start out with a mention of that album). So the question about World Peace, as it has been with every album since Two Sevens Clash, is: how does it measure up? And the answer is: better than any album the band has recorded in a decade. It's hard to know just what has invigorated the aging Joseph Hill, but he is singing with more force and conviction than we've heard in years; and the band that was organized to back him up (consisting of The Firehouse Crew and members of Shaggy's backup group) sounds like the rumble of thunder and the crack of a whip. As always, Hill's melodies are as simple and obvious as nursery rhyme ditties, and as usual, they are insanely catchy and almost endlessly entrancing. On World Peace, Hill chose to reprise a couple of songs from the old book, "Dog a Go Nyam Dog" and "Never Get Weary," but both come off sounding like new compositions. Highlights from the newer material include the strangely funky and horn-heavy "Holy Mount Zion," the Nyahbinghi-influenced "Babylon Falling," and the exquisitely sanctified "Walk in Jah Light." But his real moment of triumph comes on "Selection Train," on which he proves that he is still capable of singing the line "reggae train is coming" without losing his audience. How many other reggae singers can do that?

Biography

Formed: 1976

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

Vocal trio Culture helped define the sound and style of Rastafarian roots reggae, thanks largely to charismatic singer, songwriter, and leader Joseph Hill. True to their name, Culture's material was devoted almost exclusively to spiritual, social, and political messages, and Hill delivered them with a fervent intensity that grouped him with Rastafarian militants like Burning Spear and Black Uhuru. Their classic debut, Two Sevens Clash, is still considered a roots reggae landmark, and most of their...
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World Peace, Culture
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