|3 Man Army's Fourth Album: "Three Man Army Three"|
There has always been some degree of confusion over Three Man Army's relatively small discography as is evident by the contradictory information available. So to clear up any uncertainty, it's best if we first step back in time and set the record straight on the band's history. This way, one is able to understand and appreciate the slightly posthumous release of their fourth album.
After Gun had run out of ammunition, the brothers Gurvitz took time out in America. Adrian hooked up with Buddy Miles, while Paul worked with former band mate Brian Morris who had changed his name to Brian Parrish. They recorded the album "Parrish & Gurvitz" and toured in support of it throughout the US. The brothers had only just returned to the UK in the early 70's when they teamed up again to write and record the debut Three Man Army album, "A Third of A Lifetime". This album was released by Pegasus Records in 1971. Most of the songs were rehearsed in the studio before being recorded. The brothers had a predilection for working with first class drummers, and this album featured no less than three with Buddy Miles (Band Of Gypsies), Mike Kellie (Spooky Tooth) and Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Beck, Bogard & Appice).
The band's second release "Mahesha", came out on Warner Bros. in 1971. With the addition of drummer Tony Newman (Rod Stewart Group, May Blitz, Boxer) and later David Bowie, they had chosen well, as Newman had made his name as a sought after session man who could be heard on many of the hits singles at the time. Newman became a permanent member of the "Army", which now allowed the band to play live and promote "Mahesha" in the US. "The first tour we did was with the Doobie Brothers and the second was with the Beach Boys. Not necessarily acts with which we had much in common", Paul recalls. "However, Warner Bros. thought it would be a good thing".
A year later and the band were recording their third album. This one was much heavier than the previous two and the title caused some confusion - "Three Man Army Two". Paul clarifies the reason behind the choice. "It was the second album for Warner Bros." Perhaps another interpretation could be that it may have been subconsciously influenced by the fact that it was the Second record to feature the line up of Gurvitz, Gurvitz and Newman. This would help to explain the subsequently titled release "Three Man Army Three".
The band had toyed with the idea of doing a rock opera (working title "Three Days To Go") and they had recorded a few demos for the project. Paul recently rediscovered these demos and remastered them. From these sessions, nine tracks are now featured on "Three Man Army Three". A collection of previously unreleased materials that has been captured with sensational sound quality, which will delight fans! The music presents a band at the height of their power. A good example of this is the track "Jubilee", which features drummer Lee Baxter Hayes. When asked who this 'mystery' drummer was performing on the track, Paul laughs and says, "He was a roadie of ours with, let's say with average skills as a drummer, and we let him play. It was just for fun".
Three Man Army may have always been melodic as are these rediscovered songs. The opener "Three Days To Go", begins in a very subdued mood but after warming up, it turns into a lively rock song, which could have ever been a contender for the charts. This is followed by the tongue in cheek look at a "Dog's Life" and the above mentioned "Jubilee", where Adrian's skills shine with a short but intense guitar solo. "Look At The Sun" actually sounds like something from a rock opera with its time and mood changes, its theatrical vocal melody and piano accompaniment. "Don't Wanna Go Right Now", "Doctor" and "Come To The Part" are all highly memorable rockers. The first two songs are loaded with guitar riffs, and great bass lines by P.G. while the latter is exuberant and almost effusive with good feeling. "Let's Go Get Laid" is a wonderfully melancholic, moving ballad featuring gentle acoustic guitar. The album's final track "You'll Find Love" is reminiscent of the Beatles complete with bottleneck guitar riffs and vocal harmonies.
With this compilation Paul Gurvitz has pulled off a real coup by bringing together a balance mix of very different songs and moods, which clearly revives all of the band's strengths. This journey back in time is both wistful and very enjoyable. The songs are so good that you're almost left wishing that its creators could have released them back when they were recorded. On the other hand it is a pleasure to listen to them today with such superb sound quality. After hearing "Three Man Army Three", it's a shame that this excellent group never recorded any more albums - but then came along another first class drummer, probably the most legendary of all Ginger Baker and "Three Man Army" became the "Baker Gurvitz Army" and recorded three more albums, but that's another story. . . . . .
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