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left of the dial, indeed

Posted on 29 November 2004 by Caryn Rose (3)

Left Of The Dial: Dispatches From The ’80s Underground

I want this SO BADLY. I didn’t even know it EXISTED.

So I’m listening to KEXP this morning, much like I’ve done for years now (which is a whole other article that’s waiting to be written), and this song comes on, and I’m unconsciously singing along, until I realize what it is, and then I go running back to the computer to check the online playlist, and – it’s not a cover! It’s the original! “Jet Fighter” by the Three O’Clock! Ohmigod!!! The THREE O’CLOCK?! On KEXP??


I wasn’t exactly a huge fan of 80’s West Coast neo-psychedelia (aka the Paisley Underground- aside from Redd Kross, and even then it was more about the Dolls homage than anything else) – okay I’m digressing – but I grew to love the Three O’Clock because they opened for R.E.M. at the end of the Reconstruction tour, which meant I saw them night after night after night – somewhere there is a photo of me onstage with Michael Gutierrez (Three O’Clock lead singer), because one night he complained that everyone in the front row had R.E.M. shirts on, so I took a piece of paper, drew a Three O’Clock logo on it, and pinned it to the front of my shirt. He called me up on stage to thank me.

So the point I was going to make, and just did through that long, rambling, and largely irrelevant story, was that this compilation is about unbridled nostalgia, pure and simple – I can sing you every single song on it (including “Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing” by the Minutemen, coincidentally another band I got to know because they opened for R.E.M. – in fact you could subtitle this set “Bands That Opened or Almost Opened For R.E.M. Or Were Namechecked By Peter Buck In At Least One Interview In The 80’s”).

The tracklist is just exceptional, they got pretty much everything, including things that you had probably forgotten about until this very moment (or maybe not, but I am one of those freakish people who worked really hard to get a lot of these songs on CD, and then made sure they got loaded on the iPod from, like, day one). I mean, the Rain Parade? “Madonna Of The Wasps”? dB’s. Smithereens. The Lyres. Minor Threat, even. The only thing missing from my personal playlist in that era is Jason & The Scorchers, but I’d challenge you to name a song and/or artist essential to college radio in the 80’s that isn’t on here.

If you were there, you need this. If you weren’t there, you need this, because it will explain an awful lot, give you context, fill in background. One of Rhino’s all-time best, imho.

Now I just have to get my hands on this thing.

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3 Responses to “left of the dial, indeed”

  1. Litsa says:

    I checked out the playlist and it brought back so many memories it makes me want to cry. Rain Parade? Dream Syndicate? Lone Justice? It’s like riding around w/ my brother again in our old brown Mustang. And I’m glad to see Aztec Camera get their due: I’ve debated this w/ record store clerks in Seattle and New York and I don’t care what anyone says: “High Land, Hard Rain” is brilliant. Thanks for alerting me to the best Christmas gift ever.

  2. carol says:

    I bought it last night after reading this, and then reading the tracklisting on the rhino site.

    oh my god…do you know how long i have been trying to find take the skinheads bowling on cd?

    this is fucking awesome. i definitely made my shitty week :)

    peace,love,and anarchy
    Carol G.
    AKA SisterE

  3. dbf says:

    agree completely and love the proposed subtitle of bands that opened for rem…..that said, and since you asked…..the absence of let’s active and something from the real 10,00 maniacs like daktari, etc….is glaring

    keep up the good work caryn….glad to see that you have been boycotting rmas…..like anything else when too many people get their hands on it….it is completely unlistenable….