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Pure (1997): The Best Pop-Punk Release You Never Heard

3 Colours Red, Pure (Creation 2CDS, 1997)
[originally posted 13Jul2000]

photo credit:

You never saw this in your local record store, probably. More’s the pity.

Yes, you read that right, 2CDS. Blame the marketing team. “Yeah, it worked REAL well for Nine Inch Nails and Guns n’ Roses.” (I think the first of them was available separately as well.)

Unwritten rule of the music industry #1: someone, somewhere, will attempt to integrate two styles of music.

Case in point: the Minneapolis bands of the mid to late 80s, specifically Husker Du and The Replacements, combining the straightforward rage of punk with the catchiness of pop.

Unwritten rule of the music industry #2: eventually, someone, somewhere, will successfully integrate said two styles of music.

the ‘Mats and the Huskers. Again.

URotRI #3: Every label and its mother will attempt to sign bands trying to integrate said two styles of music in order to come up with some prepackaged hitmakers.

How many were there? All the bands who grew up wanting to be from Minneapolis did it—Soul Asylum, the Goo Goo Dolls, etc.

URotRI #4: 99% of bands who get signed to major labels for this reason will turn out unlistenable crap.

While the early work from most of the bands who started punk and ended up pop is fantastic (ever hear the first Lemonheads album? Spectacular.), once the switch was made, they all realized one thing—the bands who had gone that road before successfully had been fusing punk and pop from day one, and the new breed had no idea of how to do so.

URotRI #5: the second generation of such artists will be 99% unlistenable crap as well.

These are the bands that grew up wanting to be the post-sellout Soul Asylums and Goo Goo Dolls without having cut their teeth on anything in the first place. Too many to name, I’m sure you can all think of five or six without prompting from me.

URotRI #6: the other 1% of the second generation will get no publicity and no airplay, but if you hunt them down, you’re in for a wonderfully satisfying musical experience.

And thus we come to UK pop-punk types 3 Colours Red. I expected to find myself listening to just another Offspring/Green Day/Blink 182/you name it kind of band, but for a penny and a bucks’ worth of shipping, I was willing to take the risk. And the actual single itself, “Pure,” does have that kind of commercially-sterilized accessible mundanity to it. Better than the radio pop-punk stuff, of course, but only marginally.

Then you get to the B-sides.

The first CDS has two other album tracks, I believe, and the second CDS has two live tracks. And it’s these four where 3CR have been allowed to do their thing without intervention from the hand of the almighty corporate record god. And it’s good stuff. Closest parallel I can draw is what would have happened had Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy sat in on a Pleased to Meet Me-era Replacements shindig; 3CR are obviously well-influenced by the same ex-goth Britpsych movement whence came The Cult, but they never stray far enough away from their Replacements-esque pop roots to go all the way over into the stoner metal camp. Radio-friendly track length, fuzzy guitar, barked vocals that come straight from those Cult glory days (think “She Sells Sanctuary”).

Sadly, as far as I can discern, 3CR released the Pure album and a couple of singles from it, and then disappeared into the wilderness. Such is the life cycle of those poor fools overlooked by the majors. However, if you’re a fan of the pop-punk hybrids polluting the radio these days, give 3 Colours Red a lookover and find out what might have been, had any major label A&R person ever had a modicum of taste. ***


“Nuclear Holiday”.

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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