Monthly Archives: May 2023

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)

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