Explosives – Three Ring Circus

January 01, 1970

(Steady Boy Records)



It’s always an intriguing scenario when a backing band steps
out from the shadows and seizes the spotlight on their own. The Band – as in The Band — aside, it’s happened only
occasionally – the Wailers, the Rumour, the Crickets and Crazy Horse are some
of the more obvious examples that come to mind. However even in those
relatively rare instances, it brings the support players some fleeting
recognition. For whatever reasons, the musicians often reclaim their day jobs
and go back to supporting their front-men.


On the other hand, Three
Ring Circus
makes it clear that the Explosives had a life – and a career –
long before the group was drafted by Roky Erickson as his back-up band. As
evidenced by this well-stocked anthology that’s culled mostly from material
recorded in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the Explosives were well versed in a
rock ‘n’ roll regimen. Over the course of twenty tracks given to both a CD and
DVD, its evident they were adept at mining retro pop and proto punk, and making
it all sound fresh and vital in the process. “Headhunter” recycled a surf sound
ala Dick Dale, “I Gotta Move,” exploited a Ray Davies’ signature song with some
grungy garage vibes, while “Lonely Street” and “Sunsets” brought memories of
the Mersey beat and some sweeter pop pretense.


As the set progresses, the reasons for Erickson’s affinity
for the band become clear, given the semi-psychedelic weirdness of “UFO,”
“Fortress Europe,” “Cola Brain” and “Come Clean,” songs that find a common bond
with their new boss’ wackier instincts. Taken in total, both newcomers and
former fans will find that the Explosives’ archives have yielded one dynamite


“Lonely Street,” “Sunsets,” “Headhunter” LEE ZIMMERMAN


Leave a Reply