In the late â€˜80s, after an EP and four LPs with the Three Oâ€™Clock, bassist/singer/songwriter Michael Quercio found himself without a band for the first time in a decade. His long-time association with Game Theory led to touring and recording in San Francisco, but by the early â€˜90s heâ€™d returned to Los Angeles. Back in the southland he connected with guitarist/singer/songwriter Matt Devine, and together with drummer Chris Bruckner, formed Permanent Green Light – the groupâ€™s name seemingly lifted from the closing song of the Godz 1967 album Godz 2. As a trio, the band returned Quercioâ€™s to the pre-Three Oâ€™Clock format of the Salvation Army, but with a co-founder sharing singing and songwriting duties, PGL had more range to draw upon.
The band debuted in 1992 with the single â€œWe Could Just Die.â€ The songâ€™s signature guitar riff and vocal hooks put this in a class with Michael Quercioâ€™s most memorable songs. The trio played with the sort of fervor that had electrified the Salvation Army, but with less overt psychedelic and punk undertones. The singleâ€™s B-side, â€œThe Truth This Time,â€ opens with a funky wah-wah guitar riff, but breaks into the sort of melodic verse for which Quercio is known. The single begat a self-titled EP, from which Quercioâ€™s â€œBallad of Paul K.â€ is included, but Matt Devineâ€™s songs and and lead vocals are left behind.
A fuller picture of Devineâ€™s contributions is drawn from tracks selected from the bandâ€™s first and only full-length alum, 1993â€™s Against Nature. The six tracks anthologized here include solo writes from from both Quercio and Devine, as well as several co-writes that include the single â€œ(You and I Are the) Summertime.â€ Devineâ€™s â€œMarianne Gave Up Her Handâ€ has a baroque-rock feel, while â€œPortmanteauâ€ adds Spanish-styled acoustic guitar to the trioâ€™s near prog-rock. Devineâ€™s voice is pleasant, though not the instantly recognizable, idiosyncratic instrument that is Quercioâ€™s. The jointly written â€œWintertimeâ€™s A-Cominâ€™, Martha Rayeâ€ recalls the tripiness of Quercioâ€™s early songs with the Three Oâ€™Clock.
Fans will enjoy this collectionâ€™s vault finds, starting with 1991 demos of â€œ(You and I Are the) Summertimeâ€ and Quercioâ€™s otherwise unknown â€œLovely to Love Me.â€ The former is played faster and harder than the single, the latter highlights the quirkiness of Quercioâ€™s voice, with Merseybeat harmonies sung against crashing cymbals. The B-side â€œStreet Loveâ€ is served up in demo form thatâ€™s more raw and urgent than the final version, and stray tracks from Flipsideâ€™s RAFR compilation and a Sassy magazine phone promo round out the rarities. Those new to the band will find this a balanced intro, but with such a slim catalog, the original EP and LP are worthwhile follow-ups. Those who are already hooked will dig the demos and other bonus tracks. [Â©2018 Hyperbolium]