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Third World's journey to success

Sunday, September 09, 2018

IF an artiste got on the Studio 54 playlist during that club's heyday of the 1970s, it meant they were really hot. Which is what the Third World band were back in 1978, thanks to a song named Now That We Found Love.

The dance number, a cover of The O'Jays' 1973 soul hit, was a runaway smash 40 years ago. It was the lead song from Third World's third album, Journey to Addis, released in late 1978 by Island Records.

Now That We Found Love spurred the set to solid sales in Europe and the United States, giving the six-piece band its greatest commercial success since forming in 1973. It was recorded at Island's Compass Point studio in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Steven “Cat” Coore, Third World's guitarist and co-founder, is uncertain about Journey to Addis' official release date, but he remembers clearly that the band headed to The Bahamas just before an important event took place in Jamaica.

“What I most remember is that it was at the time of the (One Love) Peace Concert, and that's why we were not there,” he told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

Third World's previous albums, their self-titled debut and 96 Degrees In The Shade, were released in 1976 and 1977, respectively by Island. They were strong, eclectic collections with good songs but sales did not match up.

Coore recalls Island founder Chris Blackwell's concern about the group not scoring that big hit. He wanted that to change with Journey to Addis.

“He wanted a particular sound so he went for Alex Sadkin as producer and engineer. He's really responsible for that drum sound…he was a genius at that, very meticulous,” he said.

Sadkin, an American, had a growing reputation as a producer and engineer. His credits included Bob Marley and The Wailers' Rastaman Vibration album; as well as albums and songs by Neil Young and Steven Stills.

Before going to Nassau, Third World headed to Titchfield High School in Port Antonio, Portland, for one week of rehearsals.

“The principal there was Mr Chin, who was a good friend of Willie's (drummer Willie Stewart) family. We wanted a peaceful place for a retreat,” Coore said.

Most of the band went to The Bahamas after Titchfield. A decision had been taken that one of the songs for the new album would be Now That We Found Love, a Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff composition first done by The O'Jays for Philadelphia International Records.

“We had played it before as part of our repertoire but we were playing the O'Jays version. When Richie (bass player Richie Daley) and Willie came up, we went for a crossover/reggae feel,” Coore explained.

He said the band (which also included co-founder and keyboardist Ibo Cooper, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Bunny Rugs, and percussionist Irvin “Carrot” Jarrett) rocked on the uptempo take of Now That We Found Love. When Blackwell first heard the song, he gave it the thumbs up.

“He said, 'that song is going to do something for you guys,' recalled Coore.

With Sadkin's precise direction, Third World crafted eight songs for Journey to Addis. African Woman, Cold Sweat, One Cold Vibe (Couldn't Stop This Ya Boogie and Rejoice were other impressive cuts from the set.

Now That We Found Love was the game-changer. It made the British national chart, broke through in the US pop market after being embraced by American disc Jockeys like Frankie Crocker, and earned them slots on top-rated television shows like Good Morning America and Top Of The Pops.

“We had great success with that song, it really launched us. After Now That We Found Love, people not only bought Journey to Addis, but also our first two albums,” Coore said.

Third World did three more albums for Island Records before moving on to the major Columbia Records in 1981. They recorded two albums for Mercury Records in 1992 before returning to the independent fold.

Their time with Columbia and Mercury produced several hit songs such as Try Jah Love, Sense of Purpose, Reggae Ambassador and Committed.

Alex Sadkin went on to work on Marley and The Wailers' Survival album, and hit albums by Grace Jones, Duran Duran, Joe Cocker and Foreigner. He was killed in an auto accident in 1987 at age 38.

Ibo Cooper and Willie Stewart left Third World in 1996, Bunny Rugs died in 2014, while Irvin “Carrot” Jarrett died in July of this year. Steven “Cat” Coore and Richie Daley are members of the current line-up which is currently recording an album produced by Damian “Junior Gong” Marley.