Today our Off the Road pandemic-based series welcomes back legendary reggae group Third World, and their leader, guitarist/vocalist/cellist Stephen “Cat” Coore, joining HPR All Things Considered Host Dave Lawrence remotely from Kingston, Jamaica. It’s the first in two days of incredible storytelling with this charismatic reggae icon.
Third World have been a critical fixture in reggae since their inception in the early 1970s in Jamaica. Cat got his start in equally important roots reggae pioneers Inner Circle in the late 1960s at just twelve years old, there to bear witness as Jamaican music forms ska and rocksteady gave way to reggae, and Third World would go on to be part of major events in reggae history. After signing with Island Records, they began to tour internationally, including opening for Bob Marley in Europe, playing the Smile Jamaica concert of 1976, and finding widespread success via their late 70s cover of The O’Jays “Now That We Found Love”. They went on to even bigger success, after performing with Stevie Wonder at Reggae Sunsplash 1981, collaborating with him the next year, yielding “Try Jah Love”, pushing the band deeper into American consciousness, and to more diverse audiences. They’ve continued for decades and are known as one of the longest running, most successful reggae bands of all time. In 2011 the late William “Bunny Rugs” Clarke was a guest with Dave. That same year Cat was also a guest, and returned in 2018 for a memorable interview/performance session in HPR’s Atherton Performing Arts Studio.
For our Off the Road series, we spent over an hour speaking with Cat. In Jamaica since soon after the pandemic began, he tells an incredible tale of discovery, using his unexpected downtime to explore remote and sometimes unfamiliar parts of Jamaica’s history. He told us about spontaneously sharing his music on the roadside in Falmouth, breaking out his guitar to serenade townspeople. His adventures took him to the remains of one of the slave hospitals that once operated in Jamaica, where he performed Bob Marley’s epic “Redemption Song” on cello, which we’ve included in part one and have embedded video of below. He shared details of the documentary he’s been filming, which he’s calling Tiger Tales, and bared his soul on the Black Lives Matter movement, and explosion of support it’s received since the killing of George Floyd. The latest Third World album, More Work To Be Done, was released last year, produced by one of Bob Marley’s sons, Damian Marley. Cat told incredible stories about recording the album, and his long connection to Damian. With the passing of reggae superstar Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals, Cat also shared moving stories about his long relationship dating to the 1960s, when Cat backed Toots, some of his earliest gigs, as part of Inner Circle, prior to forming Third World, and which continued through to his recent passing of COVID-19. He even told the story of how Toots is credited with coining the term "reggae".
Tomorrow we’ll conclude the radio feature and post the complete hour+ interview.
Off the Road is a series of interviews with musicians remotely sharing how they’ve been touched by the pandemic and other crises, including hours of conversation and many exclusive musical performances, speaking to artists across the musical spectrum, including Deep Purple, Jack Johnson, Alice Cooper, Al Di Meola, Soul Asylum, John McLaughlin, 10,000 Maniacs, Carlos Santana, Randy Brecker and many others.
See his moving perfomance of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" (featured in Part One) at the remains of the Orange Valley Estate Slave Hospital:
See the "protest visualizer" video for "Hear Us Out" from the latest Third World album, More Work To Be Done:
See the video for "You're Not The Only One" from the latest Third World album, More Work To Be Done:
Hear the complete new Third World album More Work To Be Done:
See the complete 2018 HPR Atherton Studio interview with Cat and Dave:
See Dave speaking with the late William "Bunny Rugs" Clarke of Third World in 2011: