1/  Reality                                    (Ranks,Laswell,Sly,Robbie)    5.15
  2/  Playin' With Fire                          (JB's,BL,Collins,Sly,Robbie)  5.14
  3/  Cosmic Slop                                (Clinton,Worrell)             5.15
  4/  E-Pluribus Unum                            (Nuriddin,Laswell,Sly,Robbie) 3.40
  5/  Drive-By                                   (Laswell,Sly,Robbie)          3.21
  6/  Power of Soul                              (Nuriddin,BL,Collins,SD,RS)   5.24
  7/  Mellow Mood                                (Marley)                      4.22
  8/  Glory                                      (Laswell,Collins,Sly,Robbie)  4.33

          Recorded at Greenpoint, BC and Platinum Island Studios
          Engineers: Robert Musso, Oz Fritz and Martin Bisi
          Assistant Engineers: Paul Berry and Steve McLoughlin
          Mixed by Jason Corsaro at Platinum Island Recording Studios
          Produced by Bill Laswell
          Mastered at Masterdisk by Howie Weinberg
          Technical Support: Ian Lintault
          Business Management for Material, Inc: Tony Meilandt
Jungle Brothers (Baby Bam & Mike G): vocals; Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin: vocals; Shabba Ranks: vocals; Bootsy Collins: vocals, guitar; Gary Shider: vocals, guitar; Gary "Mudbone" Cooper: vocals; Jenny Peters: vocals; Herbie Hancock: piano; Bernie Worrell: piano, organ; Jeff Bova: synthesizers; Henry Threadgill: flute; Robbie Shakespeare: bass; Nicky Skopelitis: guitar, fairlight; Michael Hampton: guitar; Aiyb Dieng: percussion; Sly Dunbar: drums, drum programming; BRASS SECTION - Olu Dara: cornet, African trumpet; Joe Daly: baritone horn; Richard Harper: Euphonium; Marcus Rojas: tuba; Joel Brandon: whistling; HORN SECTION - Fred Wesley: trombone; Maceo Parker: alto sax; Pee Wee Ellis: tenor sax.

Brass section arranged and conducted by Henry Threadgill
Material strings arranged and conducted by Karl Berger

          1991 - Axiom/Island (Germany), 211 562 (Vinyl)
          1991 - Axiom/Island (USA), PR12 6681-1 (Promo 12")
          1991 - Axiom/Island (Germany), 261 562 (CD)
          1991 - Axiom/Island (USA), 422-848 417-2 (CD)
          2016 - Bill Laswell Bandcamp (digital only)
Note: Bill Laswell does not play on this album.


Material has never really been a band -- it's basically a constantly shifting constellation of musicians whose center of gravity is producer and bassist Bill Laswell and keyboardist Michael Beinhorn. Certain musicians are frequently included (in the old days, Fred Frith and Anton Fier; these days, Nicky Skopelitis and Sly Dunbar), but each album usually features a drastically different lineup from the last, and often a new stylistic approach as well. The Third Power is Material's foray into reggae/hip-hop fusion. Beinhorn is conspicuously absent on this album (and has remained so since, rendering Material's name basically synonymous with Laswell's), and Laswell abdicates the bass chair to Robbie Shakespeare; all the drums are played by his cohort Sly Dunbar. Sidemen include Bootsy Collins, Olu Dara, Herbie Hancock and James Brown's old horn section. Vocals are provided by members of the Jungle Brothers, the Last Poets, Shabba Ranks and others. That kind of diversity would lead to anarchy on any other record, but Laswell has been chaos into revelation for years. Sly and Robbie keep everything pumping nicely, the rappers keep it interesting, and Nicky Skopelitis' off-kilter guitar keeps reminding you that this really is a Material album. The mood is surprisingly constant, maybe a little too much so; Shabba's raggamuffin chanting on "Reality" isn't treated much differently from the Bob Marley cover that closes the album. But it's a nice mood. Pity the whole thing clocks in at just over half an hour.

Rick Anderson (courtesy of the All Music Guide, via the Get Music website)


Unadventurous Anti-American Funk/Reggae, September 5, 2001

Musically - Bill Laswell's production is slick (everything in place) and fairly interesting as compared to much commercial music. But it's not nearly as adventurous or interesting as his own best work. I can't imagine someone who enjoys "Memory Serves" or "Seven Souls" really enjoying this album. It aspires to a fairly turgid commercial sound. The music combines elements of hip-hop, funk, and reggae - but not in any particularly adventurous way.Lyrically, the album has aged badly. And it's a bit comedic to me for a caucasian such as Laswell to sit and produce an effort like this with its talk of "white devils" and so forth.

3 stars out of 5

Scott McFarland (courtesy of the website)


Absolutely brilliant mixture of reggae, funk, & soul., June 28, 1999

First of all, check out the members of this band:Bootsy Collins, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Shaba Ranks, Herbie Hancock, Bernie Worrel,Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, and Pee wee Ellis. Yet this album had very little promotion and so it is sadly relatively "unknown". Big Shame....To me, the two great tracks from this album are : COSMIC SLOP (cover of the Parliament song) MELLOW MOOD (reggae love song)The use of strings on both tracks is incredible, giving this album a very sophisticated feel that is lacking in alot of reggae.I heard an elevator was removed from its shaft, and a drum kit was put in its place, fitting microphones at the top of the shaft to get some special percussion type sound for the album!!! Anyhow, producer Bill Laswell is well known for his "unusual" practises but that is what makes him one of the most interesting producers around.The engineer on this album, Jason Corsaro, has also done some brilliant work with other artists..check out the Ron Wood solo album "Slide on this" that he mixed, completely different music but the quality is there.This Material album is fantastic and you should buy it - even if you hate reggae / funk, this album is worth every cent just because of who is on it.

Rating : 5/5

a music fan from Tokyo (courtesy of website)