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When I was in high school one of my friends purchased a Culture album solely because it was called International Herb and it had more marijuana on the cover than either of us had ever seen in our lives (we had not yet discovered Peter Tosh). However, we soon discovered that the record had virtues beyond the foliage-heavy cover art. Culture’s combination of rocksteady rhythms and harmony vocals were as potent as anything pictured in High Times and hooky enough that we could remain blissfully ignorant of what the songs were actually about—Armageddon.
For those of true faith, the end of the world does not spell doom, but release from misery into life eternal. As two Catholic school kids from the Salt Lake City suburbs sporting Led Zeppelin tie-dyes, we didn’t really fit the “true faith” bill. In fact, we most likely would have been the first against the wall when Babylon tumbled.
I have no idea where my friend is now. The last time I spoke with him he was working at a Whole Foods and training to become a forest ranger by spending by going snow-shoeing and listening to a lot of vomitous prefix-ridden bluegrass (psycho-grass, speed-grass, Leftover Salmon). Wherever he is, I hope he finds the time to pick up the new 30th anniversary reissue of Culture’s Two Sevens Clash. Shanachie’s reissue of the band’s finest and headiest record, which comes out July 17, looks towards toward the end—which will possibly come tomorrow on 7/7/07—with major key melodies, considerable optimism, and a few decent B-sides.