In the early eighties the British and the North American punk scenes kept to themselves. True, British bands like G.B.H. toured North America and American bands like Black Flag slogged through England. However if you look at the classic labels (and their compilations) of that era, No Future, Clay, Riot City etc. in Britain or SST, Alternative Tentacles, Posh Boy etc. in North America, you'll find little Anglo-American accord.
Except, of course, for Channel 3 (and the Dead Kennedy but I'm working on a geo-musical theory here, okay). CH3 were a melodic, tight, gut-pounding southern California hardcore band. In the States they were signed to pioneering SoCal pop-punk label Posh Boy but in England, thanks to John Peel's love of their hair-raising "Manzanar" they had chart action on the Oi!/UK '82 No Future label. Even now they are one of the very few American bands re-issued on John Bull's own record label, Captain Oi!.
While the early CH3 did not differ radically from their bald n' fast brethren, they did outclass most of them. As life-long friends Mike Magrann, vocals and guitar and Kimm Gardner, guitar and vocals formed the perfect united front. Their clearly articulated guitar fury and their vocal interplay does give the band a more British, even Clash-like, sound. Lyrically, English-major Magrann rails against all hypocrisy, even that of his peers ("What's the use of being angry if you don't know why?" he asks on the A-side) and his countrymen (the aforementioned "Manzanar", castigates Americans for their ignorance of their own WWII-era Japanese internment camps). And no matter how fast the polka punk-beat gets, Magrann's sharp, raspy voice never loses the melody.
(Image courtesy of record collectors of the world unite)
The band's development was subtle but unflinching between 1981 and 1983. By After the Lights Go Out they'd blueprinted a clean, clear, catchy punk rock that would take over the world over a decade later. This single's whoa-oh'ing A-side, "I'll Take My Chances" encapsulates the sound and the attitude of that album. The B-side, "How Come?" was a non-L.P. speed-romp, which hits hard and then heads home. However, as it was with their British brethren, change was coming and things would soon get weird; but that doesn't scare us, does it?
Download I'll Take My Chances 7"
P.S. MRML highly recommends subscribing to Ch 3's blog, unlike most rockers Magrann is an honest and witty commentator on his own band's (ongoing!) history.)
(Go here to order this vinyl re-issue of the early Ch 3 demos.)