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Three O’Clock Tag

Isaac Asimov reportedly once said, “There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death,” and I dare say that everyone who’s reading this piece…oh, hell, I think we’re safe in expanding it to anyone who visits this site…has an album or two within their collection that would fall under the blanket of this theory: no one else loves it, but you do, and you’ll gladly offer up a half dozen reasons why they’re wrong and you’re right.


I’d love to tell you that the Three O’Clock’s final album, Vermillion, is one of those albums for me, but while there’s no question that I love it, I can’t do a whole lot to defend it. Mind you, I say that mostly because the sort of people with whom I’d be likely to enter into a debate on the album’s quality are well familiar with the band’s complete oeuvre, and, personally, I can’t imagine any Three O’Clock fan who’d be willing to go out on the limb labeled “Vermillion is the Best Thing Those Guys Ever Did.” With that said, however, I still love the record and spin it all the time…which, of course, is why it’s earning a spot in the “Hooks ‘N’ You” spotlight.

I first fell into the music of The Three O’Clock by reading a review of their 1985 I.R.S. Records debut, Arrive Without Traveling, in a back issue of Rolling Stone. I promptly bought a copy on cassette (this would’ve been 1987, I believe, so I didn’t have a CD player and rarely used my turntable), only to have it stolen out of my car just as I’d started to fall in love with it, and when I went to replace it, the store didn’t have any other copies. D’oh! I never got around to replacing it – I’d dived headlong into alternate music, and there were just too many bands out there that I hadn’t yet explored – but I wouldn’t forget about The Three O’Clock. When I took a job at Record Bar, one of the first CDs I special-ordered was the band’s 1986 album, Ever After (now, ironically, available on a 2-fer CD with Arrive Without Traveling), and a bit after that, I finally found myself a copy of Sixteen Tambourines and truly had my mind blown.

Tim Smith (ex-Jellyfish, current member of Sheryl Crow’s band)

1. The Beatles, Rubber Soul

My favorite period for the band, as they were firing on all cylinders. Pre-self-indulgent, post-early-sugar-pop.

“If I Needed Someone”

2. XTC, Black Sea

Their last record as a true “band.” Full of experiments, sonically and musically. They are one of my all-time faves. “Respectable Street” has one of the most amazing guitar riffs.

“Respectable Street”