The Three O’Clock • Baroque Hoedown [CD, LP]

Set your wayback machine to Los Angeles, 1982. THE THREE O’CLOCK crowd into a small recording studio and lay down their first recordings, to be released as a humble 5-song EP called Baroque Hoedown on local Frontier Records. The foursome go on to spearhead what was coined as the “Paisley Underground,” a loose group of new indie groups that included The Bangles, The Dream Syndicate and Rain Parade. A movement in which young folks of the ’80s paid tribute to young musicians from the ’60s, it didn’t so much “take off” as it did permeate the growing college rock/MTV Cutting Edge world. (A couple of those bands found fame beyond that original clique.) Make your way back to now, 40 something years later, and that lil’ ol’ extended play has continued to inspire, enough so that YepRoc Records has reissued it with four more tracks and made a proper, exciting LP out of it. Okay, “LP” may be a bit of a stretch… Baroque Hoedown, even with bonus tracks, clocks in at under 30 minutes. Still.

The Three O’Clock lead off their debut release with the curiously titled “With a Cantaloupe Girlfriend,” which certainly caught my eye as a freshman English major-slash-college radio DJ. I dropped the needle on it and it caught my ear, too, with its insistent intro drum beat and guitar/keyboard swirl-o-rama. Bassist/lead singer Michael Quercio’s nasal, boyish, English-affected voice exudes wonder and respect for the sounds that his group pay tribute to, whether he and Gregg Gutierrez, Mickey Mariano and Danny Benair are doing their own accomplished tunes (“Cantaloupe Girlfriend,” “I Go Wild,” the excellent “Marjorie Tells Me,” “As Real As Real”) or their killer cover of The Easybeats’ “Sorry.” The band created a vibe that brought mid ’60s L.A. to early ’80s L.A. without sounding dated or cloying. And at the original five songs, it definitely left me and many like-minded kids wanting more. Of the bonus tracks here – all recorded around the same time – we get original “In Love In Too” and two more covers, “Feel a Whole Lot Better” (The Byrds) and “Lucifer Sam” (Pink Floyd), that are real zingers. (These originally came out on a 1983 French release that added them to the original five.)

Well, my friends, The Three O’Clock’s Baroque Hoedown is again available for your insatiable desire to dig what was put down before… I hope you’re ready for the big smile that’s gonna appear between your lucky ears. – Marsh Gooch

4/5 (YepRoc YEP-2730, 1982/2023)


The Damned • Darkadelic [CD, LP]

THE DAMNED are still with us. That’s basically a good thing, for it’s hard for me to imagine my life without these clowns in it. I started listening to them in my early 20s and have never stopped. The problem is, they’re just not what they used to be – which is to be expected, but still…

This week saw the release of Darkadelic, The Damned’s fourth album of new-material in the 21st century, and it’s quite similar to their last one, Evil Spirits. I declined to review that one at the time because I felt it was nowhere near as good as 2001’s Grave Disorder, a genuinely great album, so I just couldn’t do it. Still, this new one, though flawed, has some great moments. I’ll go with “Beware of the Clown” and “The Invisible Man” as the two tracks that positively stand out, but the bulk of the rest of the album feels a bit like “generic Damned” to me. And I hate to say this! I love these guys! But there’s just something missing. There’s a vague “phoning it in” feel, for one thing, and then there’s the production. Right from the start Darkadelic feels like it’s missing some top end, sounding a bit muffled until Dave Vanian’s voice comes in and tells you that the mix itself is a bit off. With Evil Spirits, with production by the great Tony Visconti, it was more an issue of the songs themselves. This time the songs are better but the production isn’t. At least they still rock.

Oh, what is a Damned fan to do? Well, in my case, I am always interested in what they’re up to so I stay tuned in. You may likely find you like Darkadelic, if only because  – despite their name – The Damned are still with us. Hallelujah. – Marsh Gooch

3/5 (earMusic 0217847EMU, 2023)


Robyn Hitchcock • Life After Infinity [CD, CS, LP]

For a guy who’s just turned 70, ROBYN HITCHCOCK hasn’t seemed to have slowed down. In fact, he has just released Life After Infinity, an all-instrumentals album available on all formats (including cassette tape) that is his second full-length release in six months. While Shufflemania! was more like a standard “band” album*, this one’s pretty much just Robyn on instruments and UK pal/co-producer Charlie Francis on bass and percussion. (He also did the mix and mastering, trainspotters.)

If you’ve been a longtime fan you’ll know that Hitchcock has included instrumentals on his releases before, most notably on 1984’s I Often Dream of Trains, which had some really lovely tunes and textures amongst the 14 songs that made up the original release. I can’t say there’s anything spectacularly different here – and that’s a good thing. There are some beauties here, for sure, and they’re all as fleshed out as you’d hope. Indeed, what I do detect as different is that there are a handful of tunes with the kind of sound beds you’d expect to hear on one of Eno’s ambient records. On top of that you’ll hear acoustic tunes such as “Nasturtiums for Anita” and “Mr. Ringerson’s Picnic,” “Tubby Among the Nightingales” (which sounds like something from George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music), and the double-header “Daphne, Skipping” and “Pleisosaurs in the Desert,” in which the first tune makes its way into your psyche and is followed by the second, which starts out sounding like the first one in reverse but goes somewhere else.

Life After Infinity is a gorgeous little album and in some ways it’s unlike anything in Robyn Hitchcock’s discography. You really get a chance to hear all that beautiful instrumentation, unhindered by concerns of where the vocals will sit in the mix. A nice addition to this man’s oeuvre, which numbers nearly 40 albums! – Marsh Gooch

3.5/5 (Tiny Ghost [no number], 2023)

* (A band album in which the instruments were tracked separately at different studios around the globe; it was recorded during lockdown.)

[There are no examples of the songs from this album on the Internet at the time of this writing, so please enjoy these instrumental samples from the above-mentioned I Often Dream of Trains.]


Paul McCartney & Wings • Red Rose Speedway (50th Anniversary Half-Speed Master) [LP]

The reissue train keeps chugging along, and so here we are to tell you about PAUL McCARTNEY & WINGS, who have just released their latest reissue, a half-speed mastered edition of Red Rose Speedway. This 1973 album is best known for the big hit “My Love,” and also included a super rockin’ tune called “Big Barn Bed” (forever etched in my mind as “Big Red Barn” because of a bootleg live recording I had with that erroneous title on it). It was the second proper Wings album (after 1972’s Wild Life) and it was – if I may be frank – just about as spotty.

Like most of McCartney’s solo material, Red Rose Speedway has been reissued numerous times so it’s not exactly a tough one to find – especially since it did contain the band’s first number one single which certainly helped the album’s sales. Though this version is notable for its audiophile sound qualities, the songs themselves are a mixed bag. The two I mentioned above are the best, and since they’re the first two cuts, it goes a bit downhill from there. That being said, there are some really good songs here, such as “Get On the Right Thing” and bits of the medley that closes side two. McCartney and Wings were clearly trying to find their way at this point, for it was less than a year later that the core trio of Paul, wife/keyboard player Linda and old friend/guitarist Denny Laine broke out of their sophomore slump with the worldwide smash Band on the Run.

Since I’m not only an unabashed Macca fan but an audiophile fanatic, too, this version of RRS was a must-have… if only for the punchy sound of “Big Barn Bed” and the tone of Henry McCullough’s Les Paul in the sublime solo of “My Love.” You’d also likely notice how much better McCartney’s bass sounds and some mix elements that aren’t as clear in previous versions of the album. But if you’re not as big a fan as many of us are you might not be as anxious to add this to your collection. Still, those working their way through the McCartney solo catalog might want to grab this version while they can; one day you might appreciate the subtle beauty of “Little Lamb Dragonfly” and wish you had it sounding as great as it does here.

By the way, since McCartney has been releasing these half-speed masters on each album’s 50th anniversary, THAT means Band on the Run is next. Take my money now! – Marsh Gooch

3/5 (Capitol 00602448583246, 2023)

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David Bowie • Aladdin Sane [LP]

WHAT? Another DAVID BOWIE reissue? Get out! No, it’s true! As many artists have been doing in the last decade or so, when one of their classic albums celebrates a round-number anniversary (as in, one ending in a “0″ or a “5”), they put out some kinda re-release to capitalize on the moment. And as has been lamented about throughout the world wide web – and even here! – sometimes a new super deluxe box set or reissue is completely welcome… and sometimes it ain’t. Luckily for you and me, this 50th anniversary vinyl reish of Aladdin Sane is absolutely worth it. And here’s why.

First of all, let’s put it out there: This is my favorite Bowie album. I own the clear vinyl Rykodisc Analogue edition, the double CD 30th anniversary reissue, a silver vinyl reissue from a few years ago, and now this: a half-speed master that’s just come out. It’s no secret that I am also a big fan of these audiophile releases, be it Mobile Fidelity’s decades old Original Master Recording series, Classic Records’ killer and collectible reissues (The Who, Big Star) or other labels’ own such releases. I can hear the difference! And having already picked up last year’s Ziggy Stardust half-speed master and being overwhelmed by how much better it sounds than any of the handful of other Ziggys I have had ’n’ heard, I knew I’d be all over this one. Could “Cracked Actor” sound any better? Not unless you were in the studio when Ken Scott and Bowie were doing the final mix! Could “Drive-In Saturday” sound any better? No, my friends, for this is, indeed, a crash course for the ravers. I could go on. But then I’d have to use my brainpower to keep coming up with clever quips instead of to just TAKE IT ALL IN. At the end of a listening session with this baby, all I can say is that I am definitely a sucker for quality vinyl. And let’s face it: All I have to give is guilt for dreaming! – Marsh Gooch

5.5/5 (Parlophone DBAS 50, 2023)



NRBQ • Tiddlywinks [CD, DD, LP] / Terry Adams & Steve Ferguson • Louisville Sluggers [CD, DD]

We’ve got another new Omnivore reissue of a classic NRBQ album to talk about and it’s Tiddlywinks. Not a boring kids game, this one. Well… it does have a slight naiveté to it, but this one – originally issued on the band’s Red Rooster label in 1980 – is pure NRBQ. You get all the ingredients of a Q classic: humor, poignancy, rockin’, rollin’ and a slightly skewed yet completely healthy take on what makes rock ’n’ roll so fun all these years along.

Probably the NRBQ tune most people know (if they know any of them) is “Me and the Boys,” a cracker of a song that’s been covered by both Dave Edmunds and Bonnie Raitt (both big Q fans), and it’s here sounding better than ever. Other stellar band originals “Want You to Feel Good Too,” “Beverly” and “Feel You Around Me” are here, too. Basically, all three NRBQ songwriters are well represented: Terry Adams (keyboards, clavinet), Al Anderson (guitar) and Joey Spampinato (bass). (Drummer Tom Ardolino didn’t write any of these but his drumming is excellent.) Also present on Tiddlywinks is the band’s sprightly take on “Music Goes ’Round and Around” (from 1935 and a perennial jazz/R&B favorite). This Omnivore reissue includes a few bonus tracks, though one or two have appeared on previous Q CD reissues. All told, Tiddlywinks is an essential release from the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet.

Also reissued by Omnivore is a 2006 release by founding NRBQ members TERRY ADAMS & STEVE FERGUSON, Louisville Sluggers. Though Ferguson left the band after only a few albums, he was the main dude when they were still a quintet and is responsible for some of their all-time greats, including my fave, “Flat Foot Flewzy.” These two guys have stayed friends over the years and they collaborated on this album to prove it. Louisville Sluggers is a Q album in all but name, since the aforementioned Tom Ardolino provides drums for the proceedings and a few other band buds contribute, but the overall feel of this release is not as “Q-y” as I’d hoped for. You do get the essence of an NRBQ outing, true, but if you weren’t already a fan you might not detect it. Still, with guys this talented, how can you not find something to dig?  – Marsh Gooch

4/5 (NRBQ, Omnivore OVCD-500), 2.5/5 (Adams & Ferguson, OVCD-514) (2023)

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The Donnas • Early Singles 1995-1999 [CD, LP]

THE DONNAS styled themselves like a female Ramones, but with a scruffier, some would say snottier attitude. Their music, as you might guess if you don’t already know, is on the punk/hard rock side, and this compilation is a good way to see if they’re your kind of thing.

Early Singles 1995-1999 brings together 14 sides they did in their pre-major label life. Strangely, this collection doesn’t include a few of the A-sides (perhaps because those are available on albums), but you do get a lot of rockin’ cuts that you would have missed if you’re not a 7″ collector. I tend to gravitate toward the B-sides anyway because that’s usually where the cool cover versions are. Outstanding in that field are “Wig Wam Bam” (The Sweet), “School’s Out” (Alice Cooper) and “Keep On Loving You” (REO Speedwagon). Sometimes it’s a piss-take on something like the latter that makes that song tolerable; The Donnas’ sarcasm stands out nicely on that one! “Strutter” is their killer version of the great Kiss tune, the B-side of a split single they actually did with those guys – it was part of the soundtrack of the hilarious movie, Detroit Rock City, in which four youths try to make it to Detroit to see their heroes in concert. The Donnas do a nice job with that one, as they do on lots of these cuts. “Da Doo Ron Ron” was an A-side of a single that also featured two Ramones-ily titled tunes, “I Don’t Wanna Go to School” and my favorite, “I Don’t Wanna Rock ’N’ Roll Tonight.”

It’s a short album (30:05) – at times quite lo-fi – but Early Singles 1995-1999 is a snappy lil’ disc that you’ll put on when you feel like rockin’ out with your sock out. Did I just say that? I did, I did. Incidentally, this one’s available on CD and limited edition metallic gold vinyl (for Record Store Day 2023). – Marsh Gooch

3/5 (Real Gone Music RGM-1570, 2023)


Daddy Long Legs • Street Sermons [CD, LP]

Every once in awhile I stumble upon a band that you’d think I would’ve been aware of. I’m not talking about old bands that have been out of service for years (like Gun, for instance), but going concerns like DADDY LONG LEGS. Street Sermons is their latest release – it’s their SIXTH album – and I’m pretty sure I never heard of them until now. Very strange, when you consider this is their second release on Yep Roc, which I am pretty tuned into, and a few of the others came out on Norton (a garage/’60s-style label out of Brooklyn who’s put out all kinds of stuff, including Sonics and Link Wray reissues). Well, as Marty diBerghi would say: “Enough of my yakkin’”… the Daddy Long Legs bandwagon just stopped by and I have jumped on!

Based in Brooklyn, the band is fronted by their namesake and harmonica-wieldin’ lead singer, Daddy Long Legs (real name Brian Hurd). Murak Aktürk plays guitar, Josh Styles plays the drums, and there’s now a fourth member that the press release declines to name. What Daddy Long Legs plays is definitely blues-based – they’ve charted on Billboard’s Blues chart – but it’s a lot more than that. I’d say they landed somewhere between the early Stones and maybe Jimmy Reed (at least on Street Sermons), with some Beatles, skiffle and other influences finding their way into the grooves. My favorite track is one of the least bluesy, “Nightmare,” which was likely written during the pandemic and has a solid, early Fab Four vibe to it, and others like “Been a Fool Once” hold the rock mantel in place. Indeed, the album’s gritty, almost lo-fi sound lends itself to the band’s not being pigeonholed. Whether you hear them as a “blues band,” an “Americana” group or a “rock ’n’ roll” outfit will depend on where you’re coming from. Me, I hear Daddy Long Legs as rock ’n’ roll with a heaping helping of harmonica to keep things hoppin’.

With Street Sermons, Daddy Long Legs has developed some wide-ranging fans. In fact, pop folkie John Sebastian joins them on one song and new wave misfit Wreckless Eric on a couple more. Give them a shot and you may join their ranks, too. I mean, they may not let you play on the next album, but you’ll probably like this one enough to stay tuned for the followup. Bandwagons worth jumping on don’t run every half an hour, you know. – Marsh Gooch

3.5/5 (YepRoc YEP-2785, 2023)


The No Ones • My Best Evil Friend [CD, 2LP]

I’ve been gearing up to reviewing this, THE NO ONES’ second release, My Best Evil Friend, for awhile now. So prolific is my friend Scott McCaughey* that I find it hard to come up with new adverbs ’n’ adjectives to describe what he’s done. And this time – dare I say it! – he may have authored his Sgt. Pepper. (And by saying that I know I have doomed this release to a very long shelf life, good or bad.)

“‘Don’t drop out!’ – No way, I’m here to stay” sings Scott on album opener/sorta-title-track “KLIV,” a paean to the San Jose radio station he grew up listening to in the ’60s. The lyrics are basically a list of song titles, band names and phrases associated with listening to the Top 40 AM station of his youth (mine was 93 KHJ outta L.A.). What follows are 17 more odes to rock ’n’ roll and radio, sort of a c*****t album (though not explicitly stated as such) and a damned good one at that.

Throughout My Best Evil Friend, the band – made up of McCaughey, Peter Buck (his mate from The Minus 5 and R.E.M.), Frode Strømstad and Arne Kjelsrud Mathisen (they of Norway) – tackle various genres of rock but seemingly without specifically setting out to do so. Though I detect little dabs – or is that tabs? – of psychedelia here and there, along with power pop and other subgenres of rock, there are only a few instances of “hey, let’s do a girl-group type of song” or “this one oughta sound just like the 13th Floor Elevators!”-type shenanigans here. One of them, barely, is “Song for George,” a pastiche of Harrisonian grooves that sounds familiar without being overtly Beatley. Likewise, “Blue Cheer Captain” and “Phil Ochs Is Dead” have an R.E.M. vibe to them; that kind of thing can’t be helped when 1/4 of your band is 1/4 of Athens’ Fab Four. (But the songs aren’t about R.E.M., anyway.) All told, My Best Evil Friend comes off as a very personal – just what is “Band With No Head” about? – life story, starting with birth (“KLIV”) and working its way to the inevitable (“Solo in the End”) and beyond (“The After Party”). It’s a very upbeat album, though there’s a definite melancholic nostalgia lurking beneath the sunshine superman vibes. 

I wasn’t expecting to like The No Ones’ latest anywhere near as much as I do. After all, the band’s first album (The Great Lost No Ones Album) got kind of, errrr, lost in the early Covid shuffle and I hadn’t really given it a second shake in the ensuing couple of years. I mean, McCaughey’s release schedule – he being a member of this band, The Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows and solo artist Scott The Hoople – rivals that of Neil Young’s! (As a matter of fact, McCaughey has already done an album of NY covers, Neil (Vol. 1) and has two more on the way with another solo collection AND a Minus 5 one too!)

My Best Evil Friend is available as a 2LP vinyl affair (color vinyl on initial pressing) and single CD. You get 18 songs on vinyl and only 12 on disc, so do yourself a favor and buy the wax – if only to not miss out on one of the best songs The No Ones have ever committed, “All the Stupid Days.” Whichever format opted for, I can’t imagine any rock ’n’ roll fan feeling less than severely delighted with their purchase. – Marsh Gooch

5/5 (YepRoc YEP 3048, 2023)

* Scott and I know each other from his early days (c. 1980s+) in the Seattle music scene when he was fronting Young Fresh Fellows. I used to shop at the record store he worked in, too, and he turned me on to a LOT of good music!

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Marshall Crenshaw • Marshall Crenshaw [CD, LP]

I always joke that Marshall Crenshaw is my namesake, but the truth is, he’s only slightly older than me and also: we’re not related and don’t even know each other. I did meet him once, in 1982, when his debut album, Marshall Crenshaw, was released. I was a 19 year old DJ at the college radio station, KCMU (University of Washington; it’s now KEXP), and he was one of the first “famous” people I ever met. Sharing the same first name was a big deal to me then. (Kinda still is…)

Crenshaw’s rootsy, power poppy debut album has now been reissued on CD by YepRoc, who issued a 2LP vinyl set on Record Store Day Black Friday 2022. Marshall Crenshaw is packed with hoppin’ and boppin’ “alternative rock” that harks back to early greats like Buddy Holly, yet updates the sound with more jingle, more jangle, and the tight production of ’60s legend, Richard Gottehrer. I instantly fell for that sound! You couldn’t deny the energy and bounce of “She Can’t Dance,” “There She Goes Again” or “Cynical Girl.” This many years later the subject matter is definitely dated – to someone my age it now seems silly to be singing about yer love for a gurl – but the melodies and the beat are still timeless. I’m a big fan of Marshall’s great cover of “Soldier of Love” (originally recorded in 1962 by Arthur Alexander and covered right around then by The Beatles on one of their BBC sessions [later appearing on multiple bootlegs and finally on The Beatles at the BBC, 1994]), here having more of a “girl group” vibe, as does MC’s own “Mary Anne,” still my top song on this long player.

Marshall Crenshaw (center) visits the UW’s KCMU radio station, 1982. That’s yours truly at right.

Back to the B-sides (as in bonus tracks): The YepRoc CD – like the limited edition RSD vinyl – includes a number of bonus tracks, most of them different from the ones that graced Rhino’s version. I think their 2000 release has better extras, especially “Somebody Like You” and the Buddy Holly cover, “Rave On,” which for some reason aren’t included here. But there are some goodies here, including “Something’s Gonna Happen” and “You’re My Favorite Waste of Time” (both available on both versions). This new issue also includes a couple of alternate versions of songs from the album (“Brand New Lover” and “Mary Anne”) but they’re not exactly revelatory. I imagine Marshall wanted to shine a light on some other things this time around, but I’ll bet the bonus tracks from both versions would fit on one CD along with the album itself. Regardless, if you don’t have Marshall Crenshaw in your collection and you like jangly power pop, you couldn’t do much better than to pickup either the RSD 2LP or the new CD. Yep, Marshall rocks, all right. – Marsh(all) Gooch

4/5 (YepRoc YEP-3027X, 1982/2022)

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