Three Man Army

Soldiers of Rock: The Anthology

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This two-CD collection is certainly as complete a document of the second-division early-'70s British hard rock band Three Man Army as there could be, containing everything from their three albums, as well as both sides of the 1972 non-LP B-side "What's Your Name"/"Travellin'." (There are also three songs at the end of disc two -- "Doctor," "You'll Find Love," "Don't Wanna Go Right Now" -- whose source is unspecified, though they bear a copyright date of 1970 and have a less generically hard rock-oriented sound than the rest of the material, almost sounding Who-influenced.) Annoyingly, the chronology of the track sequencing seems to be random, jumping back and forth between all three of the albums. A more pressing issue is whether a band such as this deserved so much recording time to begin with, for there's nothing here you couldn't have heard done far better, or at least with far more memorable hooks, from a number of early-'70s British hard rock outfits such as Led Zeppelin, whom Three Man Army seem to be trying to emulate at times (as on "Polecat Woman"). It's got a variety of textures within the hard rock format, to be sure, almost in an unselfconsciously Spinal Tap fashion, adding some blues-rock, acoustic folk, orchestral, vocal harmonic, and pretty synthesizer colors on occasion. But it all sounds so run of the mill for its genre, particularly in the lengthy unimaginative guitar solos. Those bits that stand out for higher quality -- the surprisingly pretty instrumental "A Third of a Lifetime," the almost Beatles-influenced hippie rock of "Together," the odd maybe-this-question's-better-left-unanswered lyric of "Butter Queen" ("If your name is Barbara, how come they call you butter queen?") -- do so only relative to the dullness of most of the material.

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