Sunday, September 27, 2009

Channel 3: Airborne

Knee-deep in what they now refer to as the "You guys Suck!" phase, Channel 3 (see here) refused to retreat. The 1985 e.p. Airborne recorded for screwed-up, major label affiliated Restless Records, takes the jagged jangle-pop of "Indian Summer"and jacks up the ante. But vaulting ambition aside, these four fully-formed songs give no hints of the drastic shit to come. While in these grooves you can hear a lurch forward in the level of professionalism, Magrann's sandpaper growl and sharp lyrics remain front and center and the band still plays its guts out just in a more measured, precise way. It's polished but this stuff is way too strong for A.O.R., listen to those (tuneful) gang vocals on the full-throttle, "Waiting for the Sun to Go Down" and you can rest assured we're not in Kansas yet, Toto.

Channel 3 - Waiting for the Sun To Go Down

Then there's the title track, "Airborne", into which Magrann throws all the youthful intensity and skepticism of their early blitzkrieg boppers into a grand-scale pop song with his band-mates shouting along like a gang of disillusioned choir boys. This song should've brought the world to their door. Damn history for her betrayal of Channel 3.

Channel 3 - Airborne


If money talks, it also lives
The fat and pale faces show
In East L.A., a baby dies
Well, that's just the way it goes
In their white cars, they drive through slums
And talk of art and distant wars
They shake their heads, and click their tongues
As they reach to lock the doors
In every world, in every age
There's a "they"
And what do they say?
They say we're Airborne
The trapped generation of lies
They say we're Airborne
Dead innocents, aloft with bent desires
May I use "We"?, we're forced to see
The pain of life most every day
I'll have a drink, I'll close my eyes
Then I'll turn to fly away
And so we cry, misunderstood!
Our souls alive, red burning youth
But colors fade, and we might pale
And crash down in three piece suits
I asked a kid the other day
What they teach in this nuclear age
We had some fun in school today
We learned to get under our desks
And start to pray!

Download Airborne 12" e.p.

Following this the criminally ignored e.p., the band did a grisly volte-face and became a party-metal outfit, stopping to cover Aerosmith in the process. The album in question was panned by most at the time but now has its champions of which I am definitely not one. On this album Magrann's voice is coarser and less expressive, the music and lyrics less distinctive and the whole glam-frat shtick is half-baked at best. Available here for those still curious.
As fort the 21st century, Ch 3 are still on (here's their cover of "Scratches and Needles") and, earlier this decade, they recorded a new album for Dr. Strange Records plus there's a documentary on them called, One More For My True Friends.


  1. I was around during their early period and when they did Airborne and Last Time I Drank.... Airborne at the time was slighted for it sounding too much like The Alarm. I like that ep allot. Jay Lansford added a nice rock sensibility to CH3. Last Time.... is an album that I actually enjoy, nothing like their early stuff but good. CH3 just did a song for a Youth Brigade/BYO tribute. The chose Scratches and Needles by The Nils. It is awesome. It is on Youtube if anyone is intersted.

  2. Kenny
    The Alarm comparison is apt but they had a more American sound with strong roots in SoCal punk. Yeah I meant to talk about the importance of Lansford but perhaps he'll come up soon anyway...

    Yeah I think we both have a soft spot for these 'just-after-they-were-punk' kinda album (like the Alarm and to a lesser degree like that cool Glory Stompers you introduced me to).

  3. I downloaded this just because you gave it such high praise. Wow, were you ever right. Really wonderful stuff.

  4. In the simplest of terms, you've said what most every music blogger wants to hear.
    (Plus it's such a win-win scenario - which just plain rules.)

    Thanks for reading, listening and commenting.

  5. Good review of the Airborne EP. I bought this when it came out, played it a lot both at home and on my radio show in Worcester, MA. I can't remember seeing this record in anyone else's collection, especially here on the east coast. Saw them this summer and reminded me how much I loved (and had kind of forgotten) about this record.

  6. Here in Winnipeg the record does have a little bit of a cult following and but it's always heartening to find other people who dig this record.


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