Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Featured Artist - The Three O'Clock

One of the brightest lights of new American pop psychedelia, LA's Salvation Army debuted with an album that was liable to inspire young bands all around the world to join in the fun. The trio's melodies have the ethereal quality of a young Syd Barrett; the music is a blend of all the most colorful '60s sounds, showing the influence of such groups as the Byrds, Move, Hollies, Music Machine and others.

Following legal action by the real Salvation Army (concerns over musical competition?), the group changed its name to the Three O'Clock. (Three years later, Frontier cleverly repackaged the original album as Befour Three O'Clock.) The five songs on Baroque Hoedown have poppier vocals and equally engaging music. The addition of ex-Quick/Weirdos drummer Danny Benair also brought the quartet a harder edge. Don't miss their cover of the Easybeats' "Sorry."

Sixteen Tambourines is even better — an incredible full-length collection of chiming, memorable power pop tunes played and sung as if each track were likely to get played on every radio station coast-to-coast. Slick and inventive production by Earle Mankey delivers the songs (most co-written by guitarist Louis Gutierrez and bassist Michael Quercio) in utterly engaging style. Best numbers: "On My Own," "Jet Fighter," "And So We Run." Absolutely charming and remarkably memorable. (The CD includes Baroque Hoedown and some bonus tracks.)

In 1985, the Three O'Clock signed to IRS and released their second album. Arrive Without Travelling isn't quite as delightfully twinky as its predecessor, but it does contain enough characteristically lightheaded material ("Her Head's Revolving," "Simon in the Park") to maintain the group's standing as preeminent paisley popsters.

Ever After saw Gutierrez exit the group (he's now in Louis and Clark), to be replaced by Steven Altenberg without any major changes in the group's sound or direction. Shortly after its release, the group parted ways with IRS, spent some time in legal limbo and then signed to Paisley Park. Apparently, Prince had heard and liked them (not too surprising, since Around the World in a Day draws on many of the same influences as Three O'Clock's records), though they'd never actually met. With Jason Falkner replacing Altenberg and Ian Ritchie producing, the group recorded Vermillion, their most interesting and varied album to date, which includes Prince's (sorry, Joey Coco's) "Neon Telephone" — just right for them — a lead vocal apiece by Falkner and keyboardist Mike Mariano (both great) and Quercio's six-minute ballad, "Through the Sleepy Town." Three O'Clock broke up later that year, with Quercio going on to form Permanent Green Light. - (Trouser Press)

Baroque Hoedown rs/mega

Sixteen Tambourines rs/mega

Arrive Without Traveling rs/mega

Ever After rs/mega


deano6 said...

Great post Curt. Although I disagree with the review. After Arrive Without Travelling, which had some great guitar licks, They slowly went downhill to totally '80's hell.Way too much keyboards and synthesizer on the last two albums and as far as the Prince tune, what the hell were they thinking. Jason Faulkner counldn't even pull them out of this mess. Anyway, get the first three. Ever After is OK but be prepared for a departure of their original sound. If anyone ever posts Vermillion, leave it alone. It absolutely sucks. Prince ruined the Bangles. They should've gotten a tip from that.

Shriner said...

I never got Vermillion -- because Ever After was pretty dull.

If somebody has Vermillion, though, I'd be curious to hear it. It's something I've never seen in the used record shops any more.

Querico's Jupiter Affect album I have is pretty good (The Two Ways of Becoming Alice)

I never liked "Mary's Danish" -- with Gutierrez on it, though.

"Sixteen Tambourines", though, is just perfect.

jay strange said...

Falkner could have pulled them out of the mess..he pleaded and begged them to do things different by he was 17 and they just didn't want to listen

KingSizeMong said...

Vermillion is the one album of theirs I've never heard. Missed out by pennies on ebay a few times :(

Good or bad I'd like to hear it just because Falkner's on it.

All of these could probably be condensed down into 2 really great albums. "Sixteen Tambourines" stands out as great on it's own though.

Anonymous said...

Fab. Totally utterly swinging. I have a lot of time for Ever After, but it took a lot of time to get into. The sound is different, but the songs are great. Arrive Without Traveling is worthwhile, too, but it's not the equal of that sublime mini-album and Sixteen Tambourines. ST really made it into the first ranks of pop music, right up there with the greats of the sixties, in spite of one of the worst (and least appropriate) cover designs in history.

Khop khun khrab!

Anonymous said...

Me again (original rekwester): I disagree with both the opinions of Vermillion here; it's neither as good nor as bad, but it's certainly their worst. If it had been as good as the Trouser Press review, it would have made them, instead of breaking them. But it,s worth a listen or two.

Anonymous said...

This is by far the best sounding version of Arrive I've found online, as it's from CD and not someone's old vinyl copy. Funny, it was the search for a digital copy of Arrive better than uploading my own old vinyl that first got me into blogspots, and finding this now completes the circle... just as I have to stay away from blogspots for a while until I digest everything on my now full 80 GB ipod...

Anonymous said...

Brilliant post, thank you!

Anonymous said...

I uploaded Vermillion for the 't's Psych... Again' site
(if you dare):


RevolutionaryBum said...

Interesting reading about the last album, I never liked it compared to everything up till then. I still have my vinyl copy around it must be in perfect condition considering the lack of play... But after reading your various takes on it I think I'm going to give it a listen. I was just burning a comp CD of Three O'Clock stuff today, I found a live recording yesterday from 1983 over @ another blog, Pretty decent sound for the time period... I'll add the link to for anyone interested, Vermillion is also available there too. Lastly Does anyone know where I can download any Jupiter Affect or other bands the singer was in ? Thanks in advance and thanks to the blogger here for the great tunes !!!

. said...

Just like to add my agreement for the comments re. "Ever After" (great songs, their second-best album) and that freaking APPALLING cover design for "Sixteen Tambourines" - even they admitted they got it wrong, as I've seen at least three variants. I got so sick of looking at it in iTunes I made my own.

(This rip of "hoedown" doesn't have the extra tracks, right? Anyone point me to those? Thanks!)


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