Third World

The Best of Third World - 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection

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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra

Third World was one of the first reggae bands to actively court worldwide success. They managed to get it, too, with their pulsating reggae-soul cover of the O'Jays' "Now That We Found Love" from 1979. 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Third World leads off with that song and collects more from their golden period between 1977 and 1979 on Island Records as well as a couple of stragglers from the late '80s and early '90s. The '70s material far outclasses the latter-day work and, despite the pop reputation the band was saddled with, could be as powerful and righteous as any other exalted reggae artists of the day. Their vocals are rich and seamlessly smooth, and the songs wrap political messages in sweet soul (check out "Cool Meditation" or "1865 [96 Degrees in the Shade]" for great examples of this). The band also had a bold streak and their records didn't shy away from dub techniques ("Satta Massagana") or straight-up disco ("Talk to Me"). This would have been a handy collection of their finest work if not for the inclusion of two tracks from 1989 ("Reggae Ambassador," "Forbidden Love") and one from 1992 ("Committed") that sound far too over-produced and sterile. It also leaves off any of their fine work after jumping to Columbia in the early '80s. The double-disc Reggae Ambassadors: 20th Anniversary Collection and the single disc Ultimate Collection are the only collections to compile songs from all the labels for which the band recorded. The bottom line is that, if you want the full picture of the band, you need to spring for that. But if you would be happy with a low-priced disc that picks up most of their best stuff, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Third World is just fine

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