30 Days: 30 Albums | Befour Three O’Clock – Happen Happened

I remember loving The Three O’Clock and seeing the Salvation Army album all over the place at every hip record store in the mid-80s and thinking “I really must get that some day.” <flash forward 33 years> I’ve been thinking a lot about The Three O’Clock and Michael Quercio this year, after digitizing the live Three O’Clock album that came out on Burger Records some years ago for Record Store Day. I bought the complete discography of Quercio’s naughties band Jupiter Affect as a birthday present for a Three O’Clock loving friend of mine this year, so when I ran across the once ubiquitous CD of “Happen Happened” in the Amoeba Hollywood bins last July, I duly pounced on it.

Frontier Records | US | CD | 1992 | 01866 34639 2

#15Befour Three O’Clock: Happen Happened US CD [1992]

  1. Happen Happened
  2. For Hours
  3. Fight Songs
  4. Mind Gardens
  5. She Turns To Flowers (Alternate Version)
  6. Grimly Forming
  7. The Seventeen Forever
  8. Going Home
  9. Cellophane Nirvana
  10. She Turns To Flowers
  11. Upside Down
  12. The Seventeen Forever
  13. Mind Gardens
  14. Grimly Forming
  15. While We Were In Your Room Talking To Your Wall
  16. Minuet
  17. Happen Happened
  18. I Am Your Guru
  19. Going Home

This omnibus CD managed to round up an awful lot of Salvation Army material. Their 10-tracks LP, their debut single, as well as a clutch of demos to show the rapid development of this primal Paisley Underground band. The CD kicked off in brilliant fashion with the B-side to their debut single, “Mind Gardens.” There was nothing tentative about “Happen Happened!” It rocked hard with a fleetness of foot that was unbelievable for a song that name-checked Doris Day in its infectious chorus. While this was their debut waxing, it had all of the quality that one would have been accustomed to from mature Three O’Clock. It was a close cousin to “Her Head’s Revolving,” which placed it pretty high on the shelf in my eyes!

“For Hours” and “Fight Song” reveal the hardcore punk DNA still in the kool-aid as the band had not yet fully moved away from the So-Cal zeitgeist of 1981, when these songs were recorded. The shouted backing vocals in the chorus of the latter were even more telling than the breakneck tempos. Except for Quercio’s distinctive vocals, it didn’t reek of Three O’Clock much at all. The rest of the demo material that followed showed the band mapping their way to the eventual sound they would be known for.

The actual album showed the band’s Left Banke meets Love ethos in a more fully formed fashion. The backwards guitar in “She Turns To Flowers” was a pretty trippy signifier. I found that I preferred the tougher, more garage-rock single take of “Mind Gardens” to the more flowery and diffuse LP remake. “Grimly Forming” sported a berserk middle eight where the fast tempo cut out for several bars of cattle grazing sound effects before snapping back to its senses and finishing on a frenzied note. at 3:31, it’s practically the  prog opus of this album. [think “Atom Heart Mother”]

“While We Were In Your Room Talking To Your Wall” slowed the pace to hit a little closer to the Three O’Clock target, but it’s obvious that Quercio and guitarist Gregg ‘Louis” Guiterrez in the band had their sights on the paisley prize in advance of hooking up with Danny Benair and Mike Mariano after the lawsuit by the actual Salvation Army forced the band to change its name. This artifact showed the garage punk origins of the band before they could come to the place where covering a groovy  Bee Gee’s tune in the still touchy environment of 1983 could be boldly undertaken. The developmental arc of the band had them becoming progressively more polished with time, so if 1988’s “Vermillion” on Prince’s vanity label rubbed you the wrong way [I respectfully disagree] than take solace that there’s always this garage punk [with a hint of hardcore] snapshot of the band captured on the shiny silver disc. I’ve got room for both extremes in the Record Cell.


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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2 Responses to 30 Days: 30 Albums | Befour Three O’Clock – Happen Happened

  1. I’ve never managed to get around to getting this one, but if you scroll by too quickly you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d seen the Dukes of Stratosphear’s “Chips from the Chocolate Fireball!”

    Your description makes me keen to hear it!


    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – Totally! Yeah, I always planned on buying this for how many decades? Thankfully, that’s all behind me. While listening to this, I completely suspected that Andy Partridge may have picked up on the Paisley Underground of ’82-’83 to spur him onto his Dukes of Stratosphear phase. I would not be shocked.

      Liked by 1 person

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