Third World War – Third World War (Esoteric Recordings)

Third World War’s 1971 debut album is considered an unheralded proto-punk classic by some, but I don’t think that’s what they were going for when they made it. Perhaps Terry Stamp’s politically charged “take it to the streets” lyrics got filtered down to The Clash and Sex Pistols a few years later (sample song titles: “Preaching Violence” and “Get Out Of Bed You Dirty Red”), but musically the London trio has little in common with other bands within the proto-punk umbrella. To me they sound more like a convergence of what was popular in England when they recorded the album in late-1970 – specifically. hard rock (“Working Class Man”), progressive rock (“Ascension Day”), folk (“Stardom Road Part I”) and boogie rock (“Shepherd’s Bush Cowboy”) – than The Stooges, MC5 and the like. Stamp’s no-nonsense lyrics and the band’s yes-nonsense playing, where extended instrumental indulgences are commonplace, make an awkward partnership, and Stamp’s raw-throated vocals make for rough listening. The only song where the energy and attitude come together well is a fiery non-album bonus track, “A Little Bit Of Urban Rock”, which sounds like a pub rock version of the New York Dolls. An album of songs like this would have been awesome.