Tag Archives: Third World

Unreleased dub versions on Third World reissue

00123be2_mediumJamaican roots reggae band Third World dropped their self-titled landmark debut album in 1976. This astonishing set hasn’t been reissued for 23 years, but it’s now readily available again.

But this new version is more than just the original album since it adds another eight tracks, including four unreleased dub versions, two alternate cuts and two vocals, of which one is their debut single Don’t Cry On the Railroad Track, previously only available on the original 7” from 1975.

Third World’s debut fuses roots reggae with funk, soul, gospel and rock. They have often been labelled as sell-outs and too commercial. Sure, they came to be something of a crossover act because of their monster version of the O’Jays’ Now That We’ve Found Love, which had a catchy disco groove.

But their debut is far from polished and slick. Even more so with the gritty and dread bonus cuts. And on this album they successfully cover rootsy staples like The Abyssinians’ beautiful Satta A Masagana and Burning Spear’s dry Slavery Days. Pretty far from disco decadence.

The album is infectious, but it’s not necessarily a crowd-pleaser. Third World is jam-oriented and several songs are five or six minutes long with many solos and long intros. The songs have a nice depth and the arrangements are rich and clever.

The gems on this set – apart from the original cuts – are the uplifting and soulful Rainbow Love, also recorded by BB Seaton in the 70s, and the dub versions, especially the eerie versions of Satta A Masagana, Sun Don’t Shine and Freedom Song. They are absolutely crucial and showcases the ground-shaking bass lines when deconstructing the intriguing rhythms.

After this album Third World went on to become a successful reggae band touring the globe with singer Bunny Rugs, who replaced original vocalist Milton Hamilton. Their two follow-up albums are slightly more commercial, especially Journey to Addis, but also well-worth investigating.

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Boarding the Raging Fyah train

Raging-Fyah-Boarding-Pass-Album-ReleaseLate last year the talented and dynamic Jamaican reggae band Raging Fyah announced the follow-up to their successful debut album Judgment Day, released in 2011. Destiny is the title and it will drop this year.

But fans of Raging Fyah are now treated to four brand new tracks – one single and one EP. The uplifting and spiritual Jah Glory is taken from the album and Boarding Pass EP is produced by the legendary Bobby “Digital” Dixon and released via his Digital-B Records. All four tracks are excellent rootsy reggae and reminiscent of early Third World and Zap Pow.

This young group of Edna Manley College students have come a long way and over the course of only three years they have dropped a number of very potent tracks, including the brilliant Nah Look Back, a track included on David Rodigan’s Masterpiece compilation.

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Evolution is Dubtonic Kru’s best yet

6PAN1TIt’s almost impossible today to write a story about a Jamaican band without referring to the ongoing band and live music resurgence in Jamaica with outfits like Raging Fyah, Uprising Roots Band and Mystikal Revolution, one of the latest additions.

Five piece Dubtonic Kru is however far from newcomers. They’re more like pioneers on the contemporary Jamaican live band circuit. They won Global Battle of the Bands in 2011 and have toured U.S. and Europe many times. Their third and latest album Evolution is due tomorrow and showcases an inspired, talented and skanking band that is not afraid of mixing their favorite genres into a steaming melting pot of roots reggae, soul, funk, dub, pop, dancehall and rock.

Evolution collects 13 tracks and ranges from rock-tinged dancehall in the Kool Johnny Kool combination Rub a Dub Style to psychedelic, twisted dub on the appropriately titled Cloud 9 and hardcore nyabinghi on the magnificent Jah Works, a track that could easily be mistaken for something from the Ras Michael camp.

In between these are a number of jovial one drops, a great version of The Ethiopians’ rocksteady classic Train to Skaville and the honest and heartfelt reggae love story Reggae Vibez, a track featuring Shabba Ranks sing-a-like Jamar “Ratigan” Kelly, who puts it very eloquently “Well, I’ve been around the world, listened to a lot of hits, ain’t no music like this, some say reggae was a accident, but I say it was a gift…”.

Dubtonic Kru is a Third World for the 21th century and Evolution is a great leap forward for the Kru who has presented their best set yet.

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Sophisticated and slick from Bunny Rugs

Bunny Rugs – lead singer of renowned reggae ambassadors Third World – has been in the music business for about 50 years. He started his career in the 60’s, and in the early 70’s he became lead singer of Inner Circle, where he met keyboard player Michael “Ibo” Cooper, guitarist Stephen “Cat” Coore and drummer William John Lee “Root” Stewart.

 The four of them broke out and started writing and performing original material in their newly formed band Third World, a band that have largely been dismissed by reggae snobs for their uptown and slick crossover take on reggae. That hasn’t stopped them from success though and in the late 70’s they had hits such as 96° in the Shade, a version of the O’Jays Now That We’ve Found Love and the Niney-produced Roots With Quality.

Bunny Rugs fifth solo album Time is in the same vein. It has taken about three years to complete and has been preceded by the four singles Love is Blind, Just Can’t Deny, the Jamaica anthem Land We Love and Kurfew, which addresses the three-day incursion into Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens community in pursuit of drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke in 2010.

It features a stellar line-up of musicians, writers and producers, including Sly & Robbie, Augustus “Gussie” Clarke, Richard “Bello” Bell, Dean Fraser and Dean Pond.

The 15 tracks offer a mixture of deep roots riddims and romantic ballads topped with Bunny Rugs’ soulful singing, infectious pop and rock reggae vibes and live instrumentation. When listening to the passionate and plaintive musings We’ve Got the Formula, Setting Down and You’re My Everything, it’s no surprise that they were written for his wife.

Time is timeless in the sense that Bunny Rugs remains constant. He knows his audience and he knows what they expect from him – expressive singing, heartfelt lyrics and a well-produced back drop.

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C Sharp invite you to a wider reggae horizon

Jamaican bands such as Third World and Inner Circle was part of making reggae global in the 70’s. But they were not seen as authentic as Bob Marley, and was sometimes blamed for playing an uptown version of reggae with influences from the U.S. disco craze.

C Sharp can be seen as a modern version of Third World or Inner Circle, and their second album The Invitation – released in November last year – is a genre busting excursion with influences from pop, reggae, soul, americana, funk, dancehall and rock.

These five Edna Manley graduates are talented and versatile musicians. Just listen to the fierce rock guitar riff in album opener Family Man and then their cover of The Heptones Book of Rules, where the vocalists harmonize like The Band or Crosby, Stills & Nash. Or the tight reggae groove in Jezebel, the boasting dancehall in Busy Signal combination The Invitation and Heart of a Child, which is reminiscent of The Commodores’ classic Night Shift.

The Invitation might contain too many rock guitar solos for my taste and some may regard it as too lightweight. But this is not really a reggae album; this is a Jamaican pop album.

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