This week I hop in the Way Back Machine once again to pull out a real gem of a set: Third World's Rock the World. Sometimes blasted by reggae purists because of their Motown-style harmonies, as well as their dabbles into other non-reggae genres like soul and old-school R&B. In a 1992 interview with Billboard Magazine, lead singer William Clarke described Third World as "Strictly a reggae band, no. Definitely a reggae band, yes."
Third World Rock the World
Released on CBS Records, 1981.
Produced by Third World
Engineered and Mixed by: Michael Cooper, Bruce Hensal
Total Length: 42:22
Reached Number 50 on Billboard's R&B Album Chart and 186 on Billboard's Top 200 Album Chart.
Dancing On the Floor (Hooked On Love) reached Number 88 on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart.
From the cool retro-sounds of Cooper's Prophet-5 synth (which was cutting edge back then), to the grooves developed by the actual humans manning the rhythm section, this record is 42 minutes of sheer joy and happiness. The incredibly tight and unique vocal arrangements are the best part of this set; the best part of almost any other set you could compare them to, for that matter.
As with most other records of the time, the drums are a little thin and flat (you can almost imagine all the blankets covering them as you listen), and even though they may sound a little small to someone used to listening to modern productions (e.g. fake drums), they fit the ensemble perfectly. You can't have reggae without some good old old-school slap delay and luckily delay abounds among the vocals. Otherwise, this is a very clean and neat recording of a very good band.
William 'Bunny Rugs' Clark - Vocals, Guitar
Michael 'Ibo' Cooper - Keyboards, vocals
Steven 'Cat' Coore - Guitars, Harmonica, Vocals
Richie Daley - Bass, Vocals
Irvin 'Carrot" Jarret - Percussion, Vocals
Willie Stewart - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Valerie Von Pechy - Harp
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