The Explosives

Three Ring Circus

  • AllMusic Rating
    7
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

The Explosives were one of the first bands to emerge on the Austin, TX new wave scene while the music was still looking for a home in the Lone Star State, and while their sound was a long way from punk rock, they were a tight, wiry pop band with plenty of energy and attitude, as well as some good to great songs and impressive instrumental chops. (The Explosives were good enough to serve double duty as Roky Erickson's backing band for several years.) The Explosives released a handful of singles and EPs between 1979 and 1981, and Three Ring Circus collects the lion's share of the group's recorded output, with the eight-song 12" Restless Natives and three 7" releases (The Explosives, Push the Button, and Headhunter) all presented in full. Stu Cook of Creedence Clearwater Revival produced Restless Natives, and he brought just a bit more polish to the sessions than they needed, but if the sound leans more to '50s and '60s pop than '70s skinny tie stuff, the band is in great form, and the presentation gave them a chance to show just how tight and professional they could be in a studio setting. The remaining ten studio cuts here are leaner but admirably eclectic, from the Beatlesque sweetness of "A Girl Like You" and the nervous sugar-rush anthem "Cola Brain" to the sci-fi tinged "UFO," and the righteously rattled "I Won't Go Back to Work," and for self-produced material recorded on a low budget, these tracks sound surprisingly good all these years later. The Explosives released a two-disc anthology in 2007, KaBoom, which ultimately does a better job of summing up the band and their music, but Three Ring Circus assembles their original studio in one convenient package, and the accompanying DVD, while technically shaky, preserves some great footage of the band tearing into their material on stage. If you can't track down KaBoom, Three Ring Circus will do a fine job of explaining why the Explosives were one of the top bands on the Austin scene before hardcore came to town.

blue highlight denotes track pick