The Three O'Clock

Vermillion

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It's said that Prince signed the Three O'Clock to his Paisley Park label after they were dropped by IRS having never heard a note of their music but knowing that they were friends of the Bangles, for whom he had previously written "Manic Monday." It seems like the Three O'Clock's paisley underground pop would have been a perfect fit for Prince's suitably-named label, especially since Around the World in a Day had shown that the two camps shared several influences, but for some reason, 1988's Vermillion completely drops the group's previous association with psychedelia, leaving them a mediocre, slightly bubblegummy pop band. There are a couple of good songs here, especially Michael Quercio's gentle ballad "Through the Sleepy Town" and Jason Falkner's "Love Has No Heart," but they're overshadowed by inoffensive at best, painful at worst trifles like "Love Explosion" and "World on Fire." Ian Ritchie's production is horrible, over-synthesized, and sequenced to within an inch of its life, but the nadir is Prince's contribution, the gimmicky "Neon Telephone," which sounds like it took less time to write than it does to listen to. Vermillion was the Three O'Clock's final album, and it's a shame that they had to go out on such a bum note.

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