Four and a half decades of Third World
Jamaican reggae-fusion band Third World has had a remarkably long and accomplished career. One of the longest-surviving reggae bands of all time, it has lived through changing musical trends as well as some of its original members dying throughout its 45 years existence. The band's guitarist, Stephen 'Cat' Coore, says, "It has not been an easy undertaking."
Coore is one of the constant members of the band, along with its bassist, Richard Daley, since the group was established in 1973. A.J. Brown now stands in as the lead vocalist since Bunny Rugs passed in 2014. Percussionist Tony 'Ruption' Williams, and keyboardists Norris 'Noriega' Webb and Maurice Gregory complete the current line-up.
"It is not easy to maintain a friendship that lasts that long, and it is also something special for us to stay relevant for that length of time," he told The Gleaner, reflecting on the band's history.
He added, "It is a nice hallmark that the members hold dear to their hearts because we have been through a lot of highs and lows, even though I must say that the highs have been good."
With approximately 10 Grammy nominations to date, a large catalogue, which includes charted hits such as 96 Degrees in the Shade and Try Jah Love, it has afforded the band with a loyal fan base globally.
What gives Third World the staying power that is so rare in the music industry?
The guitarist says, "When you commit yourself to being musicians and a group, it makes the synergy easier. As times get harder, you think twice before you break away, especially with the members that have always been into music and not doing anything else but music. We all understand that not everybody is going to be a big superstar, but we manage to stand firm even when the work dry up and we're not touring, or when trying to find the mortgage. It is difficult."
Having spent a lot of time travelling, Coore says those have been great times.
"That's when we get to spend quality time having a good laugh and come up with new music. Singles like Reggae Party (featuring Shaggy and Bounty Killer), started out as an idea created by Richie (Richard Daley) on a tour bus," he said
He also shared that every chance the members get, they celebrate. This year, the celebration not only marks four and a half decades in the industry, but it also marks 40 years since the release of their third album - Journey to Addis by Island Records. The group's greatest success came in the late 1970s and early 1980s, peaking with their cover version of the O'Jay's Now That We Found Love - featured on the album.
The completion of their upcoming full-length album produced by Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley on the Ghetto Youths International label is another reason to have a reggae party.
"Though I am not sure how different this album is from previous, Jr Gong definitely brought out all the best Third World elements. From the beginning, he worked conscientiously on the harmonies and arrangements, taking some of our ideas and blending them with his idea. The quality of writing is very high and the album is special."
SENSE OF PURPOSE
Troughout their history, the band also has a tradition of songs with strong lyrical messages. In addition, they haves also partnered with a number of charitable organisations, as part of their commitment to pushing social and cultural awareness. The last concert - 'Third World and Family Under The Stars' held at the Hope Gardens in 2016 - was focused on early childhood institutions.
For their upcoming concert, the band intends to donate part of its proceeds to the Alligator Head Foundation (which the members have been ambassadors for since its inception), and the LASCO Reap Initiative spearheaded by Dr Rosalea Hamilton through the LASCO Chin Foundation.
The band's manager, Heather Cameron, told The Gleaner, "Giving back makes it feel like a sense of achievement."
She added, "Next week Saturday's concert will take on a theatrical concept. To give it a sense of purpose, it will not just be one straight presentation by each entertainer, but the band will invite their colleagues who have all shared in the passion, to join them on stage at various intervals dubbed the old Third World style of performing."
Some of the entertainers that will join Third World on stage at the Liguanea Golf Club Academy include Billy Mystic, Stephen Newland of Rootz Underground, Sevana, Toots Hibbert, Naomi Cowan, Luciano, Jah 9, Queen Ifrica, Yellowman, and One Third, among others.