When MTV hit in the early eighties, and all you needed was a single digit to finger a Casio-keyboard and an industrial-sized can of Aquanet to become a superstar, a small sect of L.A. bands rejected the latest styles to worship at the pointy boots of The Beatles, The Byrds, and Syd Barrett. Michael Quercio gave this movement a name: the Paisely Underground. His band, The Three O’Clock, helped define the sound with other groups such as The Rain Parade, The Dream Syndicate, and the most successful one of the lot, The Bangles.
What set these bands apart from the pseudo-psychedelics of groups such as The Dukes of Stratosphear (aka: XTC in disguise) and Naz Nomad and the Nightmares (aka: The Damned in disguise) is that they didn’t strive for utter authenticity. Their embracing of synthesizers and up-to-the-minute production values resulted in a sound that can be instantly placed in the eighties even as it pays reverent tribute to the sixties. That totally groovy sound is represented among the tracks familiar and otherwise on The Hidden World Revealed, Omnivore Recordings’ new Three O’Clock anthology.
Newbies will get turned on by infectious bubblegum classics such as “With a Cantaloupe Girlfriend,” “Jet Fighter,” and “All in Good Time,” with its tinkling, early-Rick Wright-style piano fills. The faithful will dig into the oddities, such as a B-side version of the Latin hymn “Regina Cæli” that begins like a meditative Pet Sounds homage before exploding into a Hurdy Gurdy Man wall of sound. A demo of “Jennifer Only,” cut when The Three O’Clock were still called The Salvation Army, sounds like a bit of raging pre-punk noise piped in from Liverpool’s Cavern Club circa 1962. Despite some overtly eighties-synthesizer arches, “A Day in Erotica,” presented in an alternate version, is the purest psychedelia in the collection, with its warped mid-section sound collage. As a starting point into the strange world of The Three O’Clock—where everything always sounds slightly sped-up and romantic partnerships with fresh fruit are not out of the question— The Hidden World Revealed does a fine job. The demos, alternate versions, and rare single sides make it valuable to those who’ve already ventured down into the Paisley Underground.
Get The Hidden World Revealed at Amazon.com here: