Musicians: Three O'Clock

Audio CD (June 25, 2013)

Label: Omnivore Recordings (Universal)

Back in the 1980's, a sub-genre of Power Pop was called the "Paisley Underground" which included bands like The Bangles, Rain Parade, Dream Syndicate, and Three O'Clock. It was Three O’Clock’s bassist/lead vocalist Michael Quercio who coined the term for groups who were clearly influenced by '60s psychedelic pop and the guitar sounds of The Byrds.

During their first run, Three O'Clock also seemed to be an obvious bridge between old-school psychedelia and the '70s Progressive Rock umbrella, if you include groups like Yes, Styx, and Rush. The four albums of The band (Quercio, drummer Danny Benair, and guitarist/vocalist Louis Gutierrez) were recorded between 1981 and 1986, and the new retrospective, The Hidden World Revealed, is partly drawn from these releases. But About half the collection presents alternate versions of their songs, demos, lost session tracks, fan club singles, and compilation appearances. In other words, Hidden World is not a "best of" sampling but is rather a gathering of material likely to appeal more to old fans rather than serve as a vehicle to attract new ones.

Not counting the final unlisted bonus track at the end, the 20 songs on Hidden Treasures include the more familiar hits like “Jet Fighter” and “With A Cantaloupe Girlfriend.” Previously unreleased tracks include "Jennifer Only," recorded when the band called itself The Salvation Army, an alternate of The Beatle-esque "In My Own Time," and the quirky "Why Cream Curdles in Orange Tea." Fans of the band will no doubt enjoy the program's series of favorite album tracks like "All in Good Time," "With a Cantaloupe Girlfriend," "Stupid Einstein," and "Lucifer Sam." For those unfamiliar with how Three O'Clock touched so many musical bases, the collection will be a surprising mix of the unexpected. On the other hand, those who've been collecting Three O'Clock for decades will hear new versions and new tracks with unexpected surprises for them as well.

Hidden World Revealed is an attractive package with a four color booklet with photos and flyers, liner notes from Quercio and Gutierrez, and most notably a track-by-track commentary from Benair. In short, for Three O'Clock devotees, it's a feast. For the uninitiated, it's probably a bit too much as it's a very, very long program with many unpolished demos that will only interest those familiar with the better-known final releases.

By most accounts, the best way to introduce yourself to Three O-Clock is to listen to 16 Tambourines and/or Arrive Without Traveling to experience their versatility and experimentation during their heyday. Then, Hidden Treasures Revealed can be what it was intended to be, a thank you to all those who've been following the band all these years just as their new 2013 reunion gets underway.

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