CD Review: Three O'Clock "The Hidden World Revealed"

For many, the Three O'Clock were but a blip on L.A.'s ever-changing music scene, but what a wonderful blip they were.  On one side, you had the muscular attack of guitarist Louis Gutierrez and ex-Quick drummer Danny Benair while on the other you had Mike Mariano's nimble keyboards and the undeniably singular vocals of bassist Michael Quercio.

What might have looked like a recipe for disaster on paper was brilliantly inspired in execution, yielding a virtual treasure trove of catchy radio-ready rockers ("I Go Wild", "Jet Fighter", and "Marjorie Tells Me", which is noticeably absent on this compilation) and ethereal mind benders ("A Day In Erotica", "The Girl With The Guitar").

On The Hidden World Revealed, the band's just-released compilation of early favorites and unreleased rarities, it becomes stunningly clear that there are few bands with as many colors in their musical "paintbox" as the Three O'Clock.  As luck would have it, they found a more than willing accomplice in Earle Mankey, whose unobtrusive production and arranging skills played a large part in helping the band achieve such an ambitious vision.

One need only listen to the alternate version of "I Go Wild" contained here to realize that working in a big-time recording studio with an equally big-time producer (Don Gehman, best known for producing John Cougar Mellencamp and, sigh, Hootie & The Blowfish) does not always yield better results.  While this version (recorded for the forgettable Chris Penn flick "The Wild Life") is not bad by any stretch, it succeeds mostly at revealing the warmth and effortless charm of the original.

Although far from being a career retrospective, The Hidden World Revealed focuses on the band's early material and, in doing so, succeeds at shining long-overdue light on a band that absolutely soared when marching to their own drum.  Major props go to re-issue label Omnivore for putting their money where their heart is once again.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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