Album: Arrive Without Travelling
. . .
Ironically, despite the fact that I really didn’t like the the album they put out that year, Arrive Without Travelling — which was also their first album for I.R.S. records — I ended up seeing The Three O’Clock four times in 1985. I don’t recall exactly why I didn’t like Arrive Without Traveling — which, like Baroque Hoedown and Sixteen Tambourines, was a fantastic name for a psychedelic pop album — I just remember that I didn’t. I was pretty cranky in 1985, so that might have been part of it.
I do know why I saw the the Three O’Clock four times that year: for one thing, they played The Star Palace twice in 1985. The first time was in February, with my close personal friends Western Chapter opening, and then they played it again in November, with Camper Van Beethoven and Flying Color opening. I think that might have been a night CVB played “When The Levee Breaks.” Or not.
And the other two times? Along with True West, they were the openers for a little band called R.E.M., who I saw at both the Warnors Theatre and the next night at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, which means The Three O’Clock were probably around for the infamous after-party upstairs at the Star Palace that that R.E.M. attended, a story those of us who were there will be telling for the rest of our lives. For example, I wrote about it in the Certain Songs entry for “Life and How to Live It.” The more I think about it, the more I’m sure The Three O’Clock were there, since they were obviously familiar with the venue, and clearly liked Fresno people.
Anyways, “Her Head’s Revolving” opens with a duel between guitarist Louis Gutierrez and keyboardist Mike Mariano, who has switched from organs to synths — which might have been part of my distaste for the record — and while Gutierrez definitely wins during the verses, slashing furious leads against drummer Danny Benair’s doubletime snare beat. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if these verses informed the hard-charging guitar riff anchoring fellow Paisley Underground travelers The Bangles’ cover of “Hazy Shade of Winter.”
That said, while Guiterriez wins the verses, Mariano wins the choruses with his synths sliding on top of the multi-tracked Micheal Quercios.
She’s on her own
The time is getting later, getting later
The pain and doubt has become much greater
Her head’s revolving like a Catherine Wheel
Spinning on the ground
It’s a great chorus — especially the way everybody crashes together during “Spinning on the ground” — and I guess I was such a purist churl at the time, I couldn’t hear it. Not even the long instrumental break after the second chorus which features stellar playing from the whole band. And that’s even despite a video that got a decent amount of airplay on MTV. Or maybe because of it. Anyways, I sure do hear it now, especially the outro chant of “Her heads revolving” that leads to a big fanfare closing.
Now I need to stick Arrive Without Travelling into my current mix and see what else I might have missed 38 years ago.
After Arrive Without Travelling, founding guitarist Gutierrez left the Three O’Clock, eventually joining Mary’s Danish. He was replaced by Steven Altenberg for 1986’s Ever After and Jason Falkner for 1988’s Vermillion, albums which definitely existed — the latter even came out on Paisley Park records — but I couldn’t tell you a fucking thing about. After that, The Three O’Clock broke up, and while Michael Querico occasionally recorded with other projects, it would be 30 years before there were any new Three O’Clock recordings.
“Her Head’s Revolving” Music Video
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