Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Official Release: Various Artists - 3X4

The concept behind 3X4 was to reignite the psychedelic atmosphere and catchy songs of the early 1980s Paisley Underground by bringing together some of the era’s best-known participants. The album was released last November as part of the Black Friday Record Store Day limited vinyl editions, but was recently given an official release. The curveball here is that the four major players from that Los Angeles scene recorded new versions of each other’s vintage songs.

The Bangles are the best known of the acts involved, but don’t expect anything resembling “Eternal Flame.” This is the band as their true fans know them; mixing 1960s pop and garage rock with lush harmonies and strong melodies. The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate, and Rain Parade follow the same blueprint, and like The Bangles, they sound like they’re having a blast on 3X4. After all, this is music they’ve known and loved for decades.

The Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn states in the extensive liner notes that he wanted his band’s new version of The Salvation Army (a precursor of The Three O’Clock) song “She Turns To Flowers” to capture the original’s “beautiful chaos,” and the result is a mind-bending gem. The Bangles’ exotic take on Rain Parade’s “Talking In My Sleep” features tabla playing from guest musician Meena Makhijani, and The Three O’Clock capture the lilting arrangement of The Dream Syndicate’s psychedelic “What She’s Done To Your Mind.”

Rain Parade slows the tempo a bit on The Bangles’ romantic “The Real World,” giving it a delicate beauty as well as ringing guitars. But the best example of how well 3X4 works comes on The Dream Syndicate’s guitar-fueled take on The Bangles’ first hit “Hero Takes A Fall,” which features Linda Pitmon and Bangle Vicki Peterson supporting Steve Wynn on backing vocals. Here’s hoping we’ll hear more collaborations from these for bands and even a tour.

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