Saturday, September 24, 2011

Paisley Underground Series, #24: The Three O'Clock- Sixteen Tambourines (1983) / Baroque Hoedown EP (1982) MP3 & FLAC

"Jet fighter man that's what I am 'cause tanks go too slow. Airplanes fly
and yet I feel so low."

As was the case with more than a few fledgling L.A.-area Garage-Rock bands during the late-seventies and early eighties, Salvation Army got their first real exposure by having a demo played on Rodney Bingenheimer's legendary L.A. radio show, Rodney on the Roq, which eventually led to a recording contract with Frontier Records and the release of their eponymous debut album in mid-1982. However, when the actual Salvation Army threatened legal action over the band's appropriation of its name, Michael Quercio & co. decided to rechristen themselves The Three O'Clock (the time of day they would meet to rehearse), while Frontier decided to promptly shelve the album the band had released a few months earlier as Salvation Army (it would re-appear under the moniker Befour Three O'clock a few years later). During the same period, the band experienced some personnel changes that resulted in the addition of Danny Benair, who had previously played drums for bands such as The Quick and The Weirdos, and ex-Great Buildings keyboardist Mike Mariano, both of whom helped shape the Garage-inflected Power-Pop that soon became The Three O'Clock's trademark.

On the back of these changes, the band, along with former Sparks guitarist Earle Mankey in the production booth, began recording the tracks that would comprise their first release as The Three O'clock: The Baroque Hoedown EP, which proved to be a significant step forward for the band artistically as well as sonically, as it captured them taking their first steps toward melding strands of Psychedelia, Power-Pop and New Wave into a sound that would, as much as any other, come to define the Paisley Underground scene. Leading off with the nonsensically titled classic "With a Cantaloupe Girlfriend," an extremely accomplished slice of Jangle-Pop bliss that is propelled by Quercio's fey vocals and Benair's energetic drumming, Baroque Hoedown boasts a handful of The Three O'Clock's finest moments on tape. While "I Go Wild" captures the sheer euphoria at the heart of the psychedelic experience better than just about any other song that comes to mind, it is the band's brilliant mod-beat-style cover of The Easybeats' classic song "Sorry" that stands above the rest. With Louis Gutierrez's stuttering guitar sound and Quercio's childlike yet swaggering vocals, the band accomplishes the rarest of feats: actually bettering a mid-sixties Garage-Rock gem.

After releasing Baroque Hoedown, The Three O'Clock immediately re-entered the studio, once again with Mankey at the helm, to record Sixteen Tambourines, an album that continued the band's evolution toward a brighter, jangly, more technically accomplished sound, but did so at the expense of the Punk aggression that had always been implicit in their sound. Nevertheless, the album features a number of paisley-tinged Power-Pop gems, including "Jet Fighter," which garnered the band a significant amount of exposure outside of the confines of its Southern California home base. Perhaps the highlight of Sixteen Tambourines is "Fall to the Ground," a wistful, Beatlesque song that finds the band dialing down their wide-eyed exuberance a bit in favor of a more baroque sound that clearly indicates the rapid growth they had undergone as songwriters. A year after releasing Sixteen Tambourines, The Three O'Clock left Frontier to sign with the higher-profile indie I.R.S. Records, a move that, at the time, seemed like a logical step for the band, but one that never lived up to its promise, as I.R.S. was more interested in having them record more songs like "Jet Fighter" than providing the kind of support and financial backing that would have made it possible for them to evolve their sound in new directions rather than to slowly, album-to-album, devolve into the faceless twee-pop band they had become by the time they disbanded in 1988. Despite this, it would be hard to name another band who captured the spirit of the early Paisley scene quite as joyously as The Three O'Clock.

Sixteen Tambourines 
(Frontier ~ 1991/1983 ~ Expanded Edition)

Sixteen Tambourines

 1. Jet Fighter  (3:29)
 2. Stupid Einstein  (2:22)
 3. And So We Run  (2:49)
 4. Fall to the Ground  (2:34)
 5. A Day in Erotica  (4:28)
 6. Tomorrow  (3:47)
 7. In My Own Time  (2:08)
 8. On My Own  (2:56)
 9. When Lightening Stars  (3:38)
10. Seeing Is Believing  (4:34)

Baroque Hoedown EP

11. With a Cantaloupe Girlfriend  (2:54)
12. I Go Wild  (2:50)
13. Marjorie Tells Me  (3:30)
14. Sorry  (2:22)
15. As Real as Real  (4:25)
-Bonus Track-
16. Around the World  (3:24)

The Three O'Clock- "Jet Fighter" Video (1983)


  1. Interesting 80s sound. Thanks voixautre!

  2. This one is hard to find. Thanks voix!

  3. Thanks so much, this will be excellent listening for the weekend. Kurt

  4. scurfie, my pleasure. Personally, I think the EP tacked onto the end of this CD is the band's best work. The later stuff tended to be over-produced with less and less of a psych influence. Their final album, "Vermillion," was recorded for Prince's label, Paisley Park, and is pretty horrific given the promise of their earlier work. The lead singer/bassist went on to form a couple of good psych bands, which I will post in the series at some point

  5. Kurt, you're welcome. This one brings back many memories. I saw them in '83 at a place long since torn down called The Timbers, an old dance hall/roller rink near the town where I grew up. The band was heavily into the mod scene at the time, which was reflected in the sea of Lambrettas parked outside

  6. And, of course, who could forget the musical legend who, while still a teenager, joined The Three O'Clock on their final album Vermillion as a guitarist. None other that the amazing Jason Falkner! Kurt

  7. kurt, yes indeed, but what a wretched album that is. I can't bring myself to post it

  8. Thanks for these, very much.

  9. Between the releases of Baroque Hoedown and 16 Tambourines, I joined The Three O'Clock Fan Club, where upon joining, one would receive a member card, a button and a 7" 45 (Feel A Whole Lot Better/In Love In Too). They held a contest where the winner would receive a one sided single (Lucifer Sam) for correctly answering the question . These 3 tracks would later be included on the French Lolita release of Baroque Hoedown. I got a 320 vinyl rip of this somewhere in my archives (links are now dead).

  10. The question btw was - where in Thomas Wolfe's novel "Look Homeward, Angel" do the words "the three o'clock" appear?

  11. cudawaver, I can imagine scores of mod kids searching page by page through Wolfe's lengthy "great American novel." If you ever find that 320 rip, I'd love to hear it :)

  12. hi guys, i'll post the french edition of "Baroque Hoedown LP in FLAC and mp3 very soon. Nice blog here.

  13. angelo, BTW, I'm a big fan of your blog. Thanks for visiting

  14. thanx for the nice words, you're doing great on your side

    about the rip
    the artwork has been completed
    now, i'm just listening to the final mix, so i hope it will be available by tomorrow at best or the day after at worst.

  15. Not top Paisley Underground but by far the best the band made... especially Jetfighter

  16. peter, I can agree with that :)


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