Monday, October 12, 2009

New Wave for the New Week #31

The Three O'ClockThe Three O'Clock via

Forefathers of what became known as the Paisley Underground scene in LA, The Three O'Clock began life in 1981 as The Salvation Army. Made up of Michael Quercio (then calling himself "Ricky Start"), John Blazing and Troy Howell, they released their self-titled debut on the independent Frontier Records in 1982. Armed with farfisa organ, trippy neon colors, and appropriately titled songs (the wonderful "She Turns To Flowers" is one of the finest things ever to come out of Los Angeles), The Salvation Army unleashed a dose of happy, jangly psychedelia that caught the hardcore kids off guard.

The actual Salvation Army complained about the band using their name, so Quercio and his band renamed themselves The Three O'Clock. A bit of a shake-up in the lineup also occurred about this time, with ex-Quick drummer Denny Benair joining along with Louis Gutierrez taking over guitar. With a mildly poppier influence in their psychedelic sound, the newly rechristened band released a series of albums that received positive notices in the fanzines of the era (Baroque Hoedown, Sixteen Tambourines and Arrive Without Traveling, all of which are highly recommended), and had a few college-radio hits including "With A Cantaloupe Girlfriend," "Jet Fighter," and this week's entry, "Her Head's Revolving." They had found a formula that gave them a certain level of success, but couldn't push through to larger commercial acceptance. They made the mistake of fixing what wasn't broken in the hopes of making that leap.

A misguided 1986 experiment with a more synth-heavy sound, Ever After, had the single "Suzy's On The Ball Now" and not much else going for it, and sank from view quickly. An even more poorly thought out project, 1988's Vermillion saw the band team up with Prince (!) in an obvious grab at mainstream gold, but they were grasping at air. Nothing more was heard from The Three O'Clock.

Quercio soldiered on with a new band, Permanent Green Light; Gutierrez formed Mary's Danish and saw some college radio airplay. Jason Falkner, who came on board just in time for the failed Vermillion, went on to form the band Jellyfish, and Denny Benair continued to play drums for several LA bands.

For this week's NW4NW entry, enjoy The Three O'Clock's last great moment in the sun, "Her Head's Revolving" from the 1985 album Arrive Without Traveling:

And here's the original line-up, The Salvation Army, with their finest moment, "She Turns To Flowers":

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