Wednesday, October 25, 2006


The Crucial Three

Long before there was the Funboy Three, hidden away in Liverpool for approximately 6 weeks in 1977 was a band known as the Crucial Three, in much the same way as the London SS a few years before them the only people to have seen this legend were those invited into their rehearsal space. The groups three main members were Pete Wylie, Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch each of whom were later to find fame of differing degrees, Wylie using Wah as his trademark, Cope with the Teardrop Explodes before starting a long career as a solo artist and McCulloch as head haircut in the raincoat wearing Echo & The Bunnymen. Despite the brevity of their lifespan the group managed to attain legendary status, the music press joke is that band split up because it was impossible to contain three egos of that size in the one room! What is known about them is that they met at a Clash gig at the renowned Liverpool club Eric's, and by the time they filed out into the street a new band had been formed. Rehearsing at Wylie's home, they were in the words of McCulloch "just mates, who never did anything and wrote just one crap song", there is no recorded evidence left behind by the band, so if anyone offers you a Crucial Three bootleg, refuse it! Despite this several songs written during this period were to be recorded later 'Books' was to appear on the debut album from both Echo & Teardrops, 'Robert Mitchum' found its way onto Copes 'Skellington' and the garage sounding 'Spacehoper' had a new home on Cope's 'Saint Julian'.
As already mentioned our three protagonists have kept on going in the music biz. For McCulloch the years after Echo split up were to be lean as his solo albums failed to inspire the masses this resulted in him re-uniting with his old colleagues in 1997 under their old name and they are still together to this day. Their latest release is the live 'Me, I'm All Smiles' (their second live since 1997) recorded in November 2005 at London's Shepherds Bush Empire. Pete Wylie has had different degrees of success going under variations of the Wah! theme. For me his most crucial work were those two first singles under the banner of Wah Heat!, if my memory serves me well these were firm favorites of John Peel, it was here that we heard the true Clash disciple shine, of course later he was to have real chart success but the greatness has already been diluted. As for Julian, the Teardop Explodes were to last until 1993 and from then on it was solo. After a shaky start, very much a case of the drugs don't help he hit his stride with a trio of classic rock god style albums, 'Saint Julian', 'My Nation Underground' and 'Peggy Suicide' spanning the end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties. I was lucky enough to see him playing in Toulouse during this period and can assure you that on stage he was every bit as good live as on record! Since then he seems to have done pretty much as the mood has taken him, Krautrock being one of his preferred themes, recent years have seen a return to more garage inspired music.

1. Wah Heat! - 'Seven Minutes To Midnight' to be found on the career spanning compilation 'The Handy Wah! Whole' great record, terrible pun!
2. Teardop Explodes - 'Traison' a French language recording of 'Treason' to be found on the remastered version their debut album 'Kilimanjaro' which sadly some record company executive has decided to replace the original artwork.
3. Echo & The Bunnymen - 'Rescue' live version to be found on 'Me, I'm All Smiles'.

Brilliant, although the great ezarchive dead links curse strikes. I've got a live version of '7 minutes to midnight' somewhere, and foreign language recordings are always worth it.
It's m again and you're site gets better the more I read. I am a scouser and was arpound when the bunnymen, wah heat and the teardrop explodes were starting out. I remember seeing the bunnymen perform at the larks in the park (in Sefton Park) around 1981 and they were brilliant. I've also been searching for an MP3 of 7 minutes to midnight for years (I have it on 7 inch and have played it to death). It still sounds fresh and new today.

Kepp up the good work and stay handcome.
The Oafoing Loaf
there is an old radio show from Canada in 1984 that did a showcase on this group, here is a link to a short segment of that from the CBC archives
I am the younger brother of Stephen Spence who was the fourth member of The Crucial Three. The band name was supposed to be indicative of the times, as there were four band members obviously!

Stephen was the drummer and I met Julian Cope and Pete Wylie many times at my mums house in Oxton Street, Walton Liverpool. I will always remember how well spoken Julian was and that one time when he visited my mums, she was really taken to him stating "What a nice boy!" He was off his face!

Pete Wylie was a very funny guy and he had my twin brother Andy, Steve and myself in stitches during the hot summer of `77sitting outside No 56!!

This deserves a mention and I am surprised Stephen is not given more mentions on sites like this. They really had the makings of something big and THEY DID perform at the famous ERICS club!!

David Spence Aug 2013
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