Monday, 15 June 2015

Oliver: Culture - See Them a Come (14 December 1991)

In many respects, it doesn't seem such a leap to link from Culture to Cliff Richard.  Think about it; religion played a huge part in their lives and music.  Where Joseph Hill and his compadres stole a march on Cliff was by also tackling politics and drugs.  I'd love to have heard it, but can't picture Cliff singing "Legalise it" in a cover of The International Herb somehow.

Culture were the closet thing to reggae superstars on Peel's show and I've yet to hear a Culture track I didn't like.  Joseph Hill had a certain quality of wisdom about him which meant when he sang you listened and responded.  With the exquisite harmony work of Roy "Kenneth" Dayes and Reginald Taylor (later Telford Nelson and Albert Walker) alongside him and the spare but precise backing engineered by The Mighty Two (Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson), they hit the mark time and again.

See Them a Come was recorded for Culture's debut album, the iconic Two Sevens Clash (1977).  Lyrically it's a little hard to follow, but there is a definite subtext about police brutality and their ways of confronting people with false charges:

Jah Jah see dem a come, but I an I ah conqueror 
They are coming to accuse I, for tings I know not about
They are coming to lock I down, and tell I that dem suspicious yeah

Hill continues by associating his situation with that of the similarly incarcerated Marcus Garvey, who was sent to prison for a time on fraud charges which Garvey felt were politically motivated.
Eventually, the legal element is sidelined as Hill places his trust in Jah to protect him and keep him safe, regardless of what his accusers try and do.  It's a classic Christian Rock trope, but somehow it always seemed to carry more credibility and likelihood in a reggae track and especially when Culture were bringing the message.

Video courtesy of 5446 Robo's Channel.

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