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)