Like a lot of teenagers, I had my share of angst-filled difficult years. Growing up in San Jose, California during the early 80s, and going to what could ungenerously be called a “burnout junior high school” (see another post I did on this here), there were a couple years there where I felt, um, kind of alone, or at least pretty much divorced from my peers. We’re talking Ages 13, 14, 15 – grades 8, 9, and 10 – and the years 1980-83. Perhaps not coincidentally, these were the years when I threw myself in completely and totally into rock and roll; more specifically, punk, new wave and American/UK post-punk indie music. Whatever it was we called it then, that was what I liked. I bought all the English papers (Melody Maker, NME, Sounds) when I could find them; I took monthly pilgrimages to the amazing record stores of Berkeley, CA; I listened to college radio something like 6-8 hours a day, and I even subscribed to TROUSER PRESS magazine. Once a mag that focused on British bands of the punk/pub rock/hard rock variety, Trouser Press toward the end got very new wave, and was sort of a hybrid American college rock / “Rock of the 80s” magazine toward its end. They had a small piece on Los Angeles "paisley underground" band THE THREE O'CLOCK around 1982 that struck a chord with me, all due to one quote. "We make music for kids who don't have any friends". I hear ya, brothers! I went out and bought their "Baroque Hoedown" EP posthaste, sound unheard (I thought that whole paisley underground thing was the sh*t for about five minutes).
Well, turns out I found some friends soon enough, and as it turns out a lot of that THREE O'CLOCK material was too weak for words, but there were a few numbers that were bouncy, fake-English-accented soda-pop psychedelia. Who doesn't dig their cover of THE EASYBEATS' "Sorry"? Or even their smash alternative nation hit "Jet Fighter"? Once I got to college I learned a little more. Turned out the band actually was a ripping, punk rock version of a psych band called the SALVATION ARMY in their early days, and they actually had released a 45 called "Mind Gardens / Happen Happened" on Mike Watt's New Alliance Records in '81! Son of a bitch! I was just then getting way into all that New Alliance/New Underground/SST stuff, and though it seemed sort of incongruous for me (still does), once I heard it on an LP called "Befour Three O'Clock: Happen Happened", I was floored. What a great 45! Though you might have a good laff at the psych-by-numbers song titles, listen to this record - it's fantastic. Again, from 1981 - band changed their name the next year, and started making music for teenagers without friends from suburban rock-n-roll hesher towns like mine.
Play Salvation Army, "Mind Gardens"