Tuesday, February 17, 2009

February 17: Third World War, "Third World War"

Artist: Third World War
Album: Third World War
Year: 1971
Label: Fly

Amidst all of the peace loving, flower children in England as the 1970's began, there was an underground movement of musicians who were tired of the mellow, predicable music. Throwing psychedelic to the side in favor of straightforward rock and roll, Third World War put true meaning behind their name with their 1971 self-titled debut.

When producer Phil Brown told his talent scouts that "I want a no-bullshit, working class band—I've had enough of all this pseudo peace crap," he was presented with a raucous, yet undeniably talented duo of Terry Stamp and Jim Avery. The pair wrote all of the material for both of the bands' records and Stamp handled vocal duties while Avery played bass. Rounding out the group were Fred Smith (drums) and Mick Liber (guitar). Oddly enough, when Third World War hit the road, they changed drummers, guitarists, and added a piano player.

Overall, Third World War is a straightforward rock record with Stamp's raspy, working class vocals leading the way. Their songs are simple, politically minded tunes to which all can relate. Whether it's singing about unemployment, riots, or the pompous aristocracy, Third World War was clearly a band for the disenfranchised masses. The band was certainly not familiar with the term "subtle," with song titles such as "Preaching Violence" and "Get Out Of Bed You Dirty Red." Instead of songs of people coming together for peace, the band was more interested in people coming together to topple the "powers that be."

The guitar work is jarring at times and is certainly well ahead of its time. Quick bursts of simple chords with aggressive vocals on top...in 1971. From that fact, one could certainly make a good case that Third World War were pioneers of the UK punk movement. The band also pulls things back and makes less musically confrontational songs, yet the lyrics are just as hostile. Perhaps it's the rough sound of his voice, or perhaps it's the somewhat snide, angry manner in which he sings, but it is clear throughout the record that this band has something to say, and you're going to listen!

Third World War will never appear on any "best" lists anywhere. Their music was far ahead of its time and was so far from the mainstream (even for the early 1970's) that they never even made it onto the radar. Their self titled debut record may sound like a damn good "standard rock" record in modern times, but in 1971, it was a sound that had never before been heard. The antagonistic vocals and driving guitar work make this record a piece of the puzzle that would lead to punk rock. Though it is a rather difficult record to find (there were small CD re-releases in 2000 and 2002), it is well worth the search.

Standout tracks: "Working Class Man," "Shepards Bush Cowboy," and "Preaching Violence."

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