December 14, 2007

The Three O'Clock (pt 2)

Last post I caught you up on The Three O'Clock's early years when they were still known as Salvation Army.

In late 1982 The Three O'Clock released their first EP, Baroque Hoedown. The five song release was well received throughout the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego areas where The Three O'Clock were building a large mod following. The album was a clear stepping stone bridging the punk of the Salvation Army and the more soulful, new wavish, power-pop that so defined the band's later releases. The Baroque Hoedown EP moved the band towards a more decidedly sixties sound that was less punk; a sound tinged with psychadelia and a sort of lilting synth sound that was becoming more common with Southern California's Paisley Underground scenesters. The hardest rocking song was a cover of the Easybeat's Sorry, and one of the few times where a cover completely outshined the original. Quercio's vocals and Guiterrez'z guitar licks overwhelmed the song, bring to it a passion that was unequaled in the original. The band made it a staple of their live shows ot the delight of fans. The most popular song on the EP was probably With A Cantaloupe Girlfriend, and yet it wasn't the best track. That had to be the very sixties like When I Go Wild, with its jangly guitars and more gentle harmonies than the band had previously embraced.

The Three O'Clock -- Sorry (Baroque Hoedown, 1983)
Now gigging at clubs like Oscar's Cornhusker, The Timbers, The Palace, Cuckoo's Nest, Mama Brown's Backdoor, the Roxy and even the Whiskey A-Go-Go, The Three O'Clock quickly grew beyond the bounds of the traditional mod scene and began to attract crowds as a sixties inspired pop-punk act. They even appeared in a modish television commercial for Orange County's original Scooterville (Vespas/Lambrettas) that aired on MTV during the early years of the cable channel's broadcasts. The band went back to recording and thier second album, Sixteen Tambourines proved to be their highwater mark. The album was played on college radio nationwide, and the single Jetfighter even garnered commercial radio rotation in and around southern California, and the video was played on MTV, MV3 and other music video programs. The album solidified the Three O'Clock as power pop band first and foremost, and their soulful and poppy sixties influences made them mod favorites. Sixteen Tambourines was definitely was an LP of its time. Listening to it now it is hard to get away from the fact that it has a decidedly 80s flavor to it with lot of synthesizer and a strong, yet soft, production. The full, lush, sound was undoubtedly thanks to the band's collaboration with Earle Mankey, a guitarist with Sparks, better known as a power pop producer who had squeezed really great albums out of LA bands like 20/20 and The Last. Songs like Stupid Einstein and A Day in Erotica boast that typically 80s echoey vocal, with string like guitars and sythesized organ. In My Own Time is a blatant rip off of the Beattles Tax Man, and Fall To The Ground has a sort of Beattles quality to it as well.

From Baroque Hoedown
I Go Wild
From Sixteen Tambourines
When Lightning Starts And So We Run
The band's live performances during this period were at an all time high as well. Their concerts were tight, well crafted shows that brilliantly showcased Quercio's affected vocals and made the most of Mariano's harp like keyboarding. Mods flocked to their shows all over the state. Scooter rallies to Three 0'Clock shows were regular events. Three 0'Clcok patches, buttons, and stickers adorned scooters and parkas alike. For a brief moment the guys were bonafide mod superstars. By late 1985 the band was showing an even greater distancing from the sixties sensibilities and garage sound that had first propelled The Three 0'Clock to the forefront of mod bands. Guiterrez left in early 1986 and was replaced by various others, none of whom had much interest in the sixties sound or power pop. Consequently, later albums such as Arrive Without Traveling -- which was released on Prince's Paisly Park label -- lacked the gritty pscyh-punk aggression of their earliest works, and all but abandoned the sixties pop sound that they captured so wonderfully on Sixteen Tambourines. The Three 0'Clock said good-bye to their mod roots and started to delve into the creative wasteland of post-new wave, mid-80s, electronic pop sounds that so many bands tested out during those years.
The Three O'Clock -- Jetfighter (Sixteen Tambourines, 1985)
Quercio must have wanted to get back to good music, because after the band's demise in 1989 he moved on to fronting power-pop band, Permenant Green Light, and later an indie band with both power pop and psychadelic influences, The Jupiter Affect. Louis Gutierrez went on to play with Mary's Danish. While not a mod band, the group had an excellent indie rock sound with obvious R&B tendencies. After four CDs and national attention Mary's Danish fell apart and Gutierrez went on to form Battery Acid with his wife, former co-lead singer from Mary's Danish.