I’ve seen Third World perform so many times, I’ve lost count. They are the only act I can say that about. The first time in Washington, DC, my friends and I went to see them and during the intermission, two of us decided to move closer to the stage. Isn’t that where all the cool people hang out?
Well, we were so close that the next day, I could still hear the constant bzzzzz from the speakers. It took a few days for my hearing to get back to normal and I swore I’d never get that close to speakers again – and I haven’t.
The reggae band Third World was formed in 1973 by Michael “Ibo” Cooper (keyboardist) and Stephen “Cat” Coore (guitarist and cellist). With their mix of Rhythm & Blues, classical music and reggae, they still are unlike any other reggae band. They’ve worked and collaborated with The Jackson Five, Bob Marley and the Wailers and Stevie Wonder.
Third World has recorded more than 20 albums and produced several hits, including the two featured today – Try Jah Love, which was written by Stevie Wonder, and (1865) 96 Degrees in the Shade, a song about the 1865 slave rebellion in Morant Bay.
Despite several changes in their lineup – Cat Coore was later joined by “Bunny Rugs” Clarke, Richard “Ritchie” Daley (bass), Lenworth “Ruption” Williams (drums), Maurice Gregory and Norris Webb (vocals) and a decline in their popularity around the 1980s, the band continues to perform including at this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
Their most recent album, Patriots, features collaborations with Toots Hibbert, Marcia Griffiths, the late Gregory Isaacs, Tarrus Riley, and Stephen and Damian Marley among many others.
The 10 time Grammy nominated reggae band has received numerous awards including the United Nations Peace Medal (1986), the Jamaica Music Industry Award for Best Show Band (1992 and 1996).
Take a listen to another version of (1865) 96 Degrees in the Shade.