Lee Perry may have grabbed all the glory and Niney Holness all the accolades, but what did they ever do for singers...bar burying their vocals in clever production? Which is why the sadly neglected Sonia Pottinger was often the artists' preferred choice. Culture first entered the studio with the producer for their third album, Cumbolo, and this successful partnership continued over another three full-length records and a clutch of singles. A fourth album, Black Rose, was planned, but never reached fruition, and in 1993 Trod On finally saw the release of recordings made during that period. Pottinger's love of vocalists is obvious from all her production work. No clever studio gimmickry for her, no showboating rhythms either; production was not an adventure for Pottinger, but a set piece, a carefully orchestrated backdrop to showcase the vocalists at their best. Culture's previous work with Joe Gibbs saw that producer match their revolutionary material with equally radical music, to obvious effect. Pottinger would instead focus on their vocal strengths, using much more subtle means to emphasize the trio's message. On the title track, for instance, the Rastafarian theme is lyrically expressed by Joseph Hill's adamant delivery, but it's the backing vocals, floating above like a heavenly choir, that give the song its real grace. But perhaps Pottinger's greatest achievement was in taking Culture back to their musical roots, and returning them to a true vocal trio form. The backing vocals of Albert "Ralph" Walker and Kenneth Dayes are given as much care and attention as Hill's, with the harmonies a focal point to all the songs. Even on tracks like "Blood in a Babylon," which once would have been the cue for Hill's histrionics, the backing vocals now perfectly balance his delivery. The tracks are showered with chorale singing, awash in spirituality, and filled with lovely close singing and exquisite harmonies in a rocksteady-esque mode, all fleshed out by unintrusive reggae backing, whose very subtlety is its beauty.
Trod On also includes earlier versions of two tracks recorded with famed nyahbingi drummer Count Ossie, not long before his death in 1976. They're somewhat out of place here, but are intriguing inclusions, not just to hear the great drummer himself, but to see how the songs were later transformed. Although the album contains the occasional dud, by and large it's a strong collection, with a clutch of great offerings.
|Trod On / Joseph Hill||Culture||5:07|
|Blood In a Babylon / Joseph Hill||Culture||4:16|
|Fussing and Fighting||Culture||4:43|
|Jah Alone a Christian / Joseph Hill||Culture||5:20|
|Children of Israel||Culture||4:15|
|Still Rests On My Heart||Culture||4:17|
|No Sin||Culture feat: Count Ossie & the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari||7:26|
|Weeping Eyes||Culture feat: Count Ossie & the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari||5:05|