I have written about the brilliant US 80s psych band The Three O’Clock before when a few of their live TV appearances landed on YouTube. It now seems that the growing interest in the band – helped in part by this rather silly article in The Guardian – has sparked a bit of activity from the group’s erstwhile members which includes a couple of new albums next year.
According to band’s drummer, and the man who seems to be the curator of their archive Danny Benair, ‘We are in the early stages of a compilation with unreleased tracks, different versions, live songs, etc… that will come out early next year. There will be another record that will be harder to get and will be very cool. I will keep you posted.’
Danny has already set up a Twitter account and a Soundcloud page and the latter includes a few unreleased tracks including a really different, and very memorable, live version of Stupid Einstein from their second album Sixteen Tambourines. There were a few very good quality live bootlegs floating round the web a few years ago and there are also a few tracks like In Love In Too, from their early days that have never made the transition from vinyl to CD/digital.
If you have never heard the band, they really were unique. Part of the Paisley Underground of 60s influenced bands that emerged from Southern California in the early 80s, The Three ‘O Clock combined the scene’s usual influences The Byrds, Syd Barrett, The Beatles, with a love of quirky 60s pop that at the time very few other people were listening to. Their championing of left field pop lead to a rediscovery of wonderful 60s bands like Paul Revere And The Raiders and Tommy James And The Shondells in the UK. Groups who up until then had been written off as poor US pastiches of The Beatles.
The band are also distinctive because of the marmite vocals of lead singer Michael Quercio, whose high pitched singing voice lead some critics both then and now to write them off as twee. Personally I love twee. And I find it highly amusing that so many serious music lovers will wear their championing of difficult to listen to music as a badge of honour, but instantly write off anything they perceive as twee. Not really that open minded are they?
The doubters are of course very wrong anyway as the band’s first three albums brilliantly take the poppier side of late 60s psych and transport it to the 80s. The debut LP/extended EP, Baroque Hoedown, with the band’s signature tunes With A Cantaloupe Girlfriend and I Go Wild is especially strong, though some fans rate their third album, Arrive Without Traveling as their masterpiece.
80s psych is clearly very much in vogue at the moment (start here) and is undoubtedly a key influence over new bands like Beaulieu Porch and The Sufis and you can hear snatches of TTOC sound in both. Legend has it that they were also a big influence on The Stone Roses. You can definitely hear drum beats and guitar riffs from Sixteen Tambourines in The Stone Roses debut and apparently a copy of that album was regularly on the turntable when the Mancs were in the recording studio creating their masterful debut.
So hopefully we will see a proper reappraisal of the band – how about a Shindig retrospective Mojo? – next year, and maybe a date or two. The last time the band played London was in 1985. Surely it is time to return?!