Back in the 80s, the sub-genre of power pop known as “Paisley Underground” movement took shape from the idle comments of Three O’Clock’s bassist/lead vocalist Michael Quercio. They all belonged to a clique of musicians including The Bangles, Rain Parade and Dream Syndicate who were influenced strongly by the sixties’ psychedelic sound and the jangle of The Byrds guitarist Roger McGuinn.
The band (Quercio, drummer Danny Benair, and guitarist/vocalist Louis Gutierrez) only made four albums. The last one on Prince’s Paisley Park label Vermillion included future Jellyfish guitarist Jason Falkner and is a fascinating story unto itself. Well fast-forward to now and the band reunited to play Coachella last April and then released this 20 track retrospective on Omnivore Records.
It’s a bright shiny revelation to hear the hit “With A Cantaloupe Girlfriend,” with digital clarity and “Jet Fighter” the catchiest of the early hits. What makes The Three O’Clock special and not a retro band, is that they embraced new wave synthesizers and rich production techniques to go with those classic melodies. About 8 tracks have never been heard before and they blend in well with the original material. The fuzzy garage influence is felt only on the earlier demo material like “Jennifer Only” (as the band was originally called The Salvation Army, the best of this material is found here.)
More highlights include the brilliant “Stupid Einstein,” and the hymn turned into a acid trip “Regina Caeli.” They even do a cover of The Byrds “Feel A Whole Lot Better.” This disc does concentrate on the first two LPs, Sixteen Tamborines and Baroque Hoedown – so I expect a second volume is in the works. Overall this is a great intro for new fans and the long time Paisley Underground followers have plenty of alternates and demos to enjoy.