Sunday, August 13, 2017

The '80s Paisley Underground

"The idea that you'd make music with guitars. The idea that you'd make music with long, unscripted and unstructured jams. The idea that you were into 60s garage bands. The idea that you'd play one chord until your arm fell off. All the things that we thought were exciting and cool couldn't have been less fashionable." Steve Wynn, of the band The Dream Syndicate. 
My last post dealt with the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in 1967.  To follow up on that recollection, it would be good to recall a very creative '80s musical subculture that was inspired by the pop music of the '60s, especially the Summer of Love era, and who made an effort to revive the feeling and spirit of 1967 in the midst of the 1980s. This scene was called the Paisley Underground, and it stood in contrast the the synth-pop, New Wave, and hair metal of that period.  Although I am actually an aficionado of '80s music, in particular New Wave, I was also fascinated and inspired by the 1960s, and was drawn to the Paisly Underground's effort to revive the psychedelic and hippie spirit of many years before. 

In the early '80s, the Paisley Underground emerged in Los Angeles out of a tight knit group of like-minded bands: the Bangles, the Dream Syndicate, Green On Red, The Three O'Clock, the Rain Parade, and the Long Ryders, among others.  An article appearing on May 16, 2013 in the the Guardian, explains the origin of the name "Paisley Underground," 
"The tag Paisley Underground was first coined in 1982 as a joke by Michael Quercio, the young leader of the Three O'Clock. "We were being interviewed by a local paper called the LA Weekly," he recalls. "The writer asked me: 'So, what do you call this new scene of you and the Bangs [later the Bangles], and the Rain Parade and the Dream Syndicate?" And I said: 'Oh, it's the Paisley Underground.' I didn't think much of it – it was just an off-the-cuff remark. It wasn't until a couple of months later that the other papers started picking up this name and started to write about the scene and call it that.""

Probably the most well-known of the Paisley Underground bands was The Bangles, who eventually were given support by Prince, and who reached the heights of '80s popularity with their big hits "Manic Monday," and "Walk Like An Egyptian."  But they started in the early '80s Paisley Underground scene, as one of its originators.

A favorite of mine from the Paisley Underground was the band The Three O'Clock, who created music that resembled '60s pop groups like the Strawberry Alarm Clock. Here they are in 1983 appearing on the MV3 music video channel (a competitor to MTV).

Here's The Three O'Clock again, with a more polished mid-80s video.

Here's the Rain Parade, a bit more psychedelic and trippy.

Here below are Parts I and II of a short, 20 minute documentary from 1985 all about the then burgeoning Paisley Underground.  (Thanks and acknowldgement to BobC1965)

By 1985, the Paisley Underground had become an influential scene, most particularly providing a strong influence to multifaceted '80 superstar Prince, who named his new record label Paisley Park, produced and championed Paisley Underground bands like The Bangles and The Three O'Clock, and who released a heavily '60s influenced album, Around The World In A Day in 1985.  The Paisley Underground, based in Los Angeles, also inspired a large number of garage-style bands and music scenes around the world.