Posts Tagged ‘The Three O’Clock’

On this day (May 26th) in 1982: Los Angeles psych/garage rock revival band The Salvation Army released their self-titled, debut album on influential indie label, Frontier Records; (Since Reissued on Burger Records) after the charitable organization objected, they changed their name to The Three O’Clock and became one of the leading lights of the city’s burgeoning ‘Paisley Underground’ neo-psych scene…

In March 1981, South Bay, CA, teenager Michael Quercio formed the Salvation Army a punky, psych-influenced garage band that took most of its stylistic and musical cues from Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets anthology. Before the year was out, the Salvation Army had a single out on the Minutemen’s New Alliance label, a new guitarist (Greggory Louis Gutierrez), and a batch of new songs to demo.

After this demo was played on Rodney Bingenheimer’s massively influential Rodney on the ROQ radio show, signed the Salvation Army to Frontier Records and released the trio’s self-titled debut in May 1982.

The philanthropic organization took umbrage over the name and the Salvation Army politely changed their name to the meaningless but suitably psychedelic the Three O’Clock The band replaced drummer Troy Howell with ex-Quick drummer Danny Benair added keyboardist Michael Mariano, and transformed themselves into the leading lights of the paisley underground, a phrase invented apparently by Quercio that’s dogged him ever since. Fancher Records reissued the Salvation Army album under the clever name Befour Three O’Clock after the group misguidedly left Frontier for IRS, and in 1992, collected the full album, that pivotal five-song demo, and all four songs recorded during the sessions for the New Alliance single for a comprehensive collection of every Salvation Army studio recording.

As such, “Happen Happened” (named for the trippy A-side of that single, which appears in two versions) is a priceless document of the early days of the L.A. psych-pop revival scene. Fans of the Three O’Clock’s much glossier music might be surprised by the punky speed and noisy guitars, but the simple two- and three-chord songs are bracing and surprisingly melodic, and flashes of Quercio’s skewed lyrical bent are already visible in songs like “While We Were in Your Room Talking to Your Wall.” Six songs are repeated, though there are only notable differences in a couple of cases and invariably the album versions are superior to the demos. Regardless, this is both a definitive historical collection and a great piece of early-’80s post-new wave punk-pop.

a.k.a. The Three O’clock, power pop / paisley underground
from Los Angeles, California… 1992 “Happen Happened” CD Reissue of 1982 “Salvation Army” Album, plus 9 bonus tracks [Frontier Records, 01866 34639 2]

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Matt Piucci broke the news yesterday; for long-time fans of the Paisley Underground it called for an extended “wow”. The Bangles, The Dream Syndicate, The Rain Parade and The Three O’Clock had all convened (or re-convened) to record a set of each other’s songs. It’s kind of like Rainy Day II. Rainy Day being a compilation from back in the 80s of the same bands covering earlier songs that had influenced them.

At the dawn of the 80s these were new bands in Los Angeles forming the core of the small yet influential Paisley Underground scene. In 2013, the four ensembles got back together to share the bill at L.A.’s Fonda Theatre for a charity concert to benefit the non-profit Education Through Music. The show went so well and everybody had so much fun that Danny Benair (The Three O’Clock), Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate), and Vicki Peterson(The Bangles) started talking about doing some type of album to celebrate their Paisley Underground beginnings.

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The idea quickly formed that each band would cover one song of the three’s. Plans were discussed but lingered. The project didn’t take off until Benair mentioned it to Yep Roc Records co-owner Glenn Dicker, who loved the idea. The four groups then got to work, resulting in the terrific twelve-song collection succinctly entitled 3 x 4: The Bangles, The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade which Yep Roc will issue on purple swirl vinyl double LP and CD for Black Friday Record Store Day (November 23rd, 2018) with a wider release (including digital formats) coming on January 11th, 2019.

The album’s dozen tracks represent a wonderful melding of the original rendition with the personality of the new interpretation. Rain Parade retain the wild sonic assault of the Dream Syndicate’s ‘When You Smile’ but add a twist by going acoustic on the chorus. The Bangles enlist an Indian percussionist to enhance the dreamy quality of Rain Parade’s ‘Talking In My Sleep’, while swapping guitars for the keyboards that were on The Three O’Clock’s original ‘Jet Pilot’.

Because these bands were, and remain, friends who started off performing together at the same time and places, 3 x 4 holds a more personal quality that most tribute projects don’t have. The tunes that each group chose to cover all had deep connections to them. These were their friends’ songs that they admired, that they saw played originally in tiny clubs, in studios, or at parties.

Michael Quericio (Salvation Army/Three O’Clock/Permanent Green Light) recalls, in the liner notes, of being shocked and awed when he first heard ‘Getting Out Of Hand’ by the then-still-named Bangs and Rain Parade’s ‘What She’s Done to Your Mind’ on the radio. Wynn, similarly, remembers how he was blown away when he listened to the first Salvation Army single after it came into the record store where he worked; he also admits to just how personal the Bangles’ ‘Hero Takes a Fall’ is to him.

Without giving away too many stories, the liner notes are packed with fond, and perhaps not so fond, remembrances from members of the four groups. They reveal the importance of backyard BBQs and KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, as well as offering several different recollections about an ill-planned group trip to Catalina Island. Quercio and Benair both share their memories of being asked during an interview with the L.A. Weekly if there was a name for their collection of bands, and Quercio casually blurting out “Paisley Underground,” although no one had used that term before. British rock mags soon picked up on the phrase, however, and the name “Paisley Underground” got stuck on them, for better or worse.

Paisley Underground, in fact, wasn’t so much a musical genre as a small scene. The bands didn’t share a specific sound but rather similar musical sensibilities. They were all record geeks who were — as Steve Wynn says of the Salvation Army/Three O’Clock in the liner notes — “hip to the grooviest sound of the ’60s but at the same time had been informed by punk rock.” Taking elements of the Velvets’ drone, Sunshine Pop harmonies, British Psychedelia, and choice Nuggets pieces, each group mixed them in varying amounts to create their own distinct sound.

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As Vicki Peterson relates in the liner notes: “We joke about it now, but it really is like we went to school together. Paisley High, Class of ’83. We were each a little different: diligent students and fuck-ups, eager newbies and experienced band veterans … but we all shared an anachronistic fascination for the music and culture of the 1960s. When we eventually found each other, in 1981 and ’82, we bonded together like social outcasts on the Quad”.

These grads of Paisley High, Class of ’83, all went on to enjoy long careers in music, and are still active today. The Three O’Clock released several albums in the 80s for Frontier, I.R.S., and Prince’s Paisley Park labels. They reformed in 2013, with principal members Michael Quercio (vocals/bass),Louis Gutierrez (guitars) and Danny Benair (drums) along with keyboardist recruit Adam Merrin, to perform at the Coachella Music Festival. The Bangles enjoyed wide success on Columbia Records throughout the 80s with hits like ‘Manic Monday’, ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’, and ‘Eternal Flame’. Their 3 x 4 recordings feature a lineup consisting of all four original members, including bassist Annette Zilinskas.

Rain Parade made albums on Zippo and Island during the 80s before splintering.Matt Piucci spent time with Crazy Horse. David Roback formed Opal with Dream Syndicate’s enigmatic, Kendra Smith, before teaming up with Hope Sandoval in Mazzy Star (‘Fade Into You’ fame). Roback’s brother Steven founded Viva Saturn with fellow Rain Parader John Thoman in the 90s. Those two joined Piucci in reviving Rain Parade in 2012. Between 1982-89, Dream Syndicate put out a quartet of acclaimed albums. After years of solo or short-term group projects, Steve Wynn reconstituted Dream Syndicate in 2012 with original drummer Dennis Duck, long-time bassist Mark Walton, and guitarist Jason Victor.

3 x 4: The Bangles, The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade winds up not just celebrating these bands’ shared past but also celebrating how the musicians are today. As Steve Wynn puts it: “I’m glad we’ve kept this thing going. I’ll go on a limb here and say that we all like and respect and admire each other as much as we did back in 1982, maybe even more. We’ve lived lives and learned a few things and know how important and lucky it is when like-minded souls find each other and collide on something really exciting. It’s all still happening!”

CD Track List:

1. Getting Out Of Hand (The Bangles) – The Three O’Clock

2. That’s What You Always Say (The Dream Syndicate) – The Bangles

3. You Are My Friend (Rain Parade) – The Dream Syndicate

4. As Real As Real (The Three O’Clock) – Rain Parade

5. Tell Me When It’s Over (Dream Syndicate) – The Three O’Clock

6. When You Smile (The Dream Syndicate) – Rain Parade

7. Talking In My Sleep (Rain Parade) – The Bangles

8. Hero Takes A Fall (The Bangles) – The Dream Syndicate

9. Jet Fighter (The Three O’Clock) – The Bangles

10. Real World (The Bangles) – Rain Parade

11. What She’s Done To Your Mind (Rain Parade) – The Three O’Clock

12 She Turns To Flowers (The Three O’Clock) – The Dream Syndicate

They began collaborating after meeting at a barbecue held by Green On Red. Rainy Day recorded and released their eponymous, lone compilation album in 1984. It pays tribute to the various psychedelic and folksy rock acts that paved the way for the starting point of their own bands.

This lovely daydream of an album is one of a kind, and like a dream, it’s frustratingly elusive. It came and went in a blur, and the only place you can find it now is in the shadowy alleys of the internet. All of which seems appropriate, because it feels like a rumor, like a secret gig in a small club that you hear about after the fact and takes on a mythic quality: Did you hear that all these musicians got together the other night and played some of their favorite covers? Participants on the LP include members from various bands that made up the Paisley Underground scene in L.A.: The Bangles, the Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade (David Roback from that band is the album’s producer and creative center), the Three O’Clock, Opal.

All of the songs except one (Alex Chilton’s “Holocaust” , a track from the Third Big Star album ) are from the ’60s: there are two Buffalo Springfield songs written by Neil Young, folk songs that were adapted by the Byrds and the Beach Boys, a section of Pete Townshend’s opus “A Quick One While He’s Away”, and songs by Dylan, the Velvet Underground, and Jimi Hendrix, all emerging through a low-fi haze. It starts with Susanna Hoffs purring Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It With Mine” , ends with a psychedelic excursion on Hendrix’s “Rainy Day Dream Away” , and in between the high spots include Kendra Smith of the Dream Syndicate singing “Flying On The Ground Is Wrong”, Hoffs on Lou Reed’s “I’ll Be Your Mirror” , and Roback’s solo version of “On The Way Home” . The whole Paisley Underground world was a mixed bag, some of it utterly engaging, some too precious and quirky for quirk’s sake, too much mood-making and too few memorable songs. At its best though, it was beautifully textured, a relief from all the slick bombast of ’80s rock. It makes sense that one of the more purely likable albums to come out of that community was this intimate and relaxed psych-folk session that looked back with affection at inspirational bands like the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield, guiding spirits of so much Southern California rock.

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The Three O’Clock is an American alternative rock group associated with the Los Angeles 1980s Paisley Underground scene. Lead singer and bassist Michael Quercio is credited with coining the term “Paisley Underground” to describe a subset of the 1980s L.A. music scene which included bands such as Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, Green on Red, and the Bangles.

After 25 years of turning down reunion offers, The Three O’Clock finally reformed after being presented with a chance to play at the 2013 Coachella festival. Three quarters of the “classic” line-up, Michael Quercio (vocals/bass), Louis Gutierrez (guitars) & Danny Benair (drums) – were joined by new recruit Adam Merrin on keyboards. The group played both weekends of the Coachella festival, and also played TV show Late Night With Conan on April 10, 2013. They later embarked on a mini-tour, and released several archival recordings that same year. The final show of the tour was at Fingerprints record store in Long Beach California on June 24, 2013.

In December 2013, The Three O’Clock played two nights with three other reunited Paisley Underground bands – The Bangles, Dream Syndicate, and Rain Parade – at The Fillmore in San Francisco (Dec. 5) and The Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles (Dec. 6 benefit concert in 2013.