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The Salvation Army: Past Three

Whatever the Paisley Underground actually is, it doesn’t represent all too much to the masses of American music fans. That pseudo-genre, though, encompassed a huge swath of early ‘80s bands that didn’t have all too much in common. There’s a pervasive punk inflection, in pace only. Perhaps everyone was given to some ‘60s influenced guitar solos as well and more over, every singer seemed to have more than just a bit of Brit in their voice. So, we’ll disregard any sort criticism in regards to that particular area, but the Salvation Army isn’t any different. And in fact, the group’s singer Michael Quercio is credited with coining the genre name, although he’s stated that it was pretty much a joke to begin with.

The band that the Salvation Army represents is actually less known than the band that they eventually became. Because of their name, at some point during the early '80s, the actual Salvation Army threatened to take the band to court. It kinda makes sense, but for a charitable organization to threaten folks with litigation seems a bit out of step with any mission statement about helping people. Anyway, the Three O'Clock featured ex-Weirdos' drummer Danny Benair for a time, but that was only after working to reach a pretend intersection of Beatles, Byrds and pop. For the groups' formative work as the Salvation Army, the quartet worked in more of a crazed garage fashion in contrast to latter works.

Most interesting about the self titled work from the Salvation Army was the confluence of all those '60s sounds and the current Southern California punk scene. There would be no overt musical reference to Black Flag or others, but the pacing and drumming in all but a few numbers would find some sort of basis in the genre.

This self titled work, which sported a scant ten tracks, seven of which are actually pretty interchangeable, feature three tracks that would presage the future of the band. Most unique, "I am Your Guru" sounds like a mini psychedelic opera with its distinctly separate sections and bizarre beat. The track moves from a waltz to some Bo Diddley style stomping and beyond, all within three minutes. Included are even a few brief moments of intentionally difficult music aimed at connecting the Salvation Army to their psych forbearers.

The closer, "Going Home" is as close to a straight '60s blues cop as anything else. Quercio's vocals here also boarder on laughably British as he comments that he's going home, because your mind is blown, which then, for some reasons, prompts him to unleash an Iggy Pop style scream.

Of late, I've been searching out stuff that awkwardly fits into this categorization (HERE and HERE) perhaps for no other reason than it's a bit obscure. But out of the two discs that have been commented on previously, this work pretty easily surpasses its brethren - although, the Psycho Daisies come pretty close. It is notable, as well, that those other groups have seen some sort of renaissance of late to spurious effect, but not these folks. We'll see.