I-Three, The

Band members               Related acts

- Marcia Griffiths -- vocals

- Rita Marley (aka Alpharita Constantia Anderson) -- vocals

- Judy Mowatt -- vocals




Esete (Rita Marley)

- Ganette (Rita Marley) 

- Marcia Griffiths (solo efforts)

- Rita Marley (solo efforts)

- The Soulettes (Rita Marley)

- Judy Mowatt (solo efforts)




Genre: reggae

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Beginning

Company: EMI America

Catalog: ST-17222
Year: 1986

Country/State: Jamaica

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: --

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5460

Price: $15.00


Yeah, as The I-Three Marcia Griffiths, Rita Marley, and Judy Mowatt are clearly the queens of reggae which means most Americans don't have a clue as to who these ladies are ...  By the mid-1970s Griffiths had already achieved Jamaican fame and some international recognition working with Bob Andy.  Mowatt had been a member of The Gaylettes, and Marley had enjoyed some success on her own and as a member of The Soulettes.  


Griffith deserves credit for starting the collaboration in that she was the one who approached Marley and Mowatt to help her provide backing vocals on a Bob Andy session.  That led to some club performance and in 1975 after the original Wailers line up split with Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer going solo, Bob Marley asked them to back him on the concert set "Jah Live".  


left to right: Judy Mowatt - Rita Marley - Bob Marley - Marcia Griffiths


As a fan, I've owned Griffith, Marley and Mowatt solo LPs for years, but never stumbled across anything they'd collectively released as The I-Threes.  When I found a copy of 1986's "Beginning" at a yard sale I jumped on it.  That said, I was somewhat surprised by the results.  On a technical and performance basis there wasn't anything wrong with the collection.  They're all gifted with wonderful voices and are one of those blessed groups that make harmonizing seem effortless.  At the same time the combination of a dated mid-1980s sound (tons of synthesizers, drum machines, etc.) and the set's clear debt and affection for American soul acts was a surprise.  Produced by Thom Bell, Grub Cooper, Tyrone Dowie, and Ricky Walters, part of the marketing plan may have been to Americanize the trio's sound for the US audience.  Tracks such as 'Come To Me Tonight', 'Mamma Can't Buy You Love', and 'Calling Out' (the latter reminding me of something Boney M might have recorded), certainly had a top-40 sheen, but it came at the expense of their reggae roots.  In fact, only about half of the album including 'Neighbour', 'Baby Be True', and 'Jealousy' even reflected a true reggae feel.  Because it actually managed to meld American pop and Jamaican flavors, 'That's How Strong' was probably the best track. Second best was the lone original composition - Griffith's tribute to Bob Marley 'He Is A Legend'.  Elsewhere, while I'm not sure it saw a US release, 'Neighbour' b/w 'Neighbour (dub version)' was issued as a  Jamaican 12" single (Rita Marley Music).  All-n-all not bad, but not a total knockout either ...



"Beginning" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Come To Me Tonight   (Thom Bell - L. Bell - C. James) - 4:03
2.) Now That We Are Standing   (Thom Bell - L. Bell - C. James) - 4:43   
3.) Mamma Can't Buy You Love   (L. Bell - C. James) - 5:31
4.) Neighbour   (Sonny Okosun) - 3:38
5.) Baby Be True   (L. Sibbies) - 2:53


(side 2)
Calling Out   (Thom Bell - L. Bell - C. James) - 3:52
2.) That's How Strong   (R. Jamerson) - 3:45
3.) Jealousy   (S. Davis) - 3:47
4.) Sing Joy   (E. Thomspon) - 3:13

5.) He Is A Legend   (Marcia Griffiths) - 4:40