Certain Songs #260: Culture – “Calling Rasta For I”

37 Album: Two Sevens Clash
Year: 1977.

One of the great pleasures of doing “Certain Songs” — especially right now, when I have an insane amount of time to devote to each post — is listening to and doing research on albums that I’ve always loved but I haven’t heard in full for a very long time.

I always get reminded what attracted me to these records in the first place as well as being reminded of their place in history.

Two Sevens Clash is one of those albums. And like Forever Changes or Violent Femmes it’s one of those albums that so completely overshadows everything else in their oeuvre, it may as well have been the only thing they ever recorded.

It’s also one of the greatest reggae albums ever released, fiery and apocalyptic in its lyrics, but tuneful and full of great musical performances.

Of course, Two Sevens Clash could have only been made when it was made: not only was it lyrically inspired by a Marcus Garvey prophecy that the Apocalypse was going to happen on July 7, 1977, it also shares a lot of musical DNA with other mid-70s albums like Marcus Garvey & Equal Rights. Most notably Sly and/or Robbie laying down the grooves.

Their considerable musicianship is only part of what makes “Calling Rasta For I” so memorable. It would mean nothing without the gorgeous melody and even more gorgeous harmonies of lead singer Joseph Hill, along with Albert Walker & Kenneth Days that make so memorable.

Calling Rasta for I
Calling Rasta for I
Calling Rasta for I
For I and for I
For I and for I
For I and for I

With Hill making nearly unintelligible interjections in between the close-harmonied verses that dominate the song, “Calling Rasta For I” is really a Rasta gospel hymn, deeply religious and deeply serious. How serious? As they sing later:

Many will be called
Many will be called
Many will be called
And few shall be chosen
And few shall be chosen
And few shall be chosen

So yeah religious. And while I’m not a religious man, I think that if I somehow had my choice, I’d choose whichever Jah preferred songs like “Calling Rasta For I.”

Fan-made video for “Calling Rasta For I”

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