Artist: 3’s A Crowd
Title: Christopher’s Movie Matinee
Musicians:Lead Guitar, Vocals – Trevor Veitch, Rhythm Guitars, vocals – Brent Titcomb, David Wiffen, Bass – Ken Koblun, Drums – Richard Patterson, Percussion – Richard, Donna & a cast of thousands, Strings & Horns arranged by Jimmie Haskell
Producer: Mama Cass Elliot & Steve Barri
3’s a Crowd was a folk rock band originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that existed from 1964 to 1969 and rather obscure. I had to dig for info and found this from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3’s_a_Crowd_(band) The group had some moderate Canadian chart success, but is particularly notable for the wide range of Canadian musicians who passed through its ranks and would later establish successful music industry careers of their own, including Bruce Cockburn, Colleen Peterson, David Wiffen, Trevor Veitch, and Brent Titcomb. 3’s A Crowd is also remembered for its association with Cass Elliott, who co-produced the group’s sole album release.
The group initially consisted of Donna Warner, Trevor Veitch and Brent Titcomb. In 1966, the group moved to Toronto, released two singles, and acquired new members Richard Patterson, David Wiffen and Comrie Smith. Smith was later replaced by Ken Koblun. In 1967 and 1968, 3’s a Crowd played the folk music clubs in Southern California.
In 1968, they recorded this LP: Christopher’s Movie Matinee, their only album. The band broke up shortly after its release. The album was produced by Cass Elliot and Steve Barri. Bruce Cockburn, who briefly joined a later version of the group, does not perform on the album, though four of his songs are included. Fellow Canadian folkie/rocker/musician Murray McLauchlan also contributed one song, “Coat Of Colors” which was his first recorded songwriting credit. Donna Warner was the primary singer, but other band members, particularly David Wiffen and Brent Titcomb, also sang lead. They did a slow, military rendition of “(Let’s) Get Together” by Chet Powers, and had a minor hit with their own song “Bird Without Wings”.
The bass player, Ken Koblun, was an associate of Neil Young during his early career and sometime bass player with Buffalo Springfield. Koblun had chosen to join 3’s a Crowd rather than continue with an early version of the Buffalo Springfield.
A related documentary, Christopher’s Movie Matinee, under the sponsorship of the National Film Board of Canada, was released in 1968, using some of the same songs and some of the same musicians. The film is about 1960s Canadian counterculture.
I consider this album to be “an average, melt-into-the-crowd pop-folk-rock album, somewhat similar to We Five rather than The Mamas & Papas in spit of being produced by Mama Cass. (They do not have anywhere near the harmonies the Mamas & Papas were able to do for one thing).
Sonically, this LP is slightly thin dynamically, but not terrible.
Side one opens with a little 17 second overture ditty and goes into “Let’s Get Together” by American Singer-Songwriter Chet Powers aka: Dino Valenti. The song was originally recorded as “Let’s Get Together” by the Kingston Trio and released in 1964. In 1967, the Youngbloods released their version of the song under the title “Get Together”. Female lead (Donna) presents a strong vocal for the song sounding a little like Joan Baez only an octave lower. Of course the group adds its own flavor and it is a pretty good version they do.
The second song, “Coat Of Colors” is a catchy sixties pop song sounding slightly like something The Association might do.
“The Way She Smiles” is the third song and a sixties pop ballad with a male lead vocal which is not that good.
The fourth song is “Wasn’t It You” – This one has kind of a Broadway musical aftertaste but is mainly pop. Female lead vocals are a good match for it. Noticeable throughout this LP is the bass, which sounds like what was done in the Mamas & Papas LPs, etc. The bass line is more forward than in back.
The last song on this side is “Gnostic Serenade”. In spite of expecting some sort of sociological statement it is really a ballad with male lead vocal that blends nicely. It is more a serenade.
Side two starts with “Bird Without Wings” which is the best song on the LP in my opinion. It is very well structured and has a strength found in good songs.
The second song is “I Don’t Wanna Drive You Away” and has a good rock feel to it.
The third song on this side is “View From A Pompous Head” and is interesting to a degree in that male voice is lead and the song is kind of a whimsical ballad. It sounds to me like something The Who might do trying to sound rather beatlesque. There is harpsichord and strings in this lending to that feel as well.
“Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing/ Bring It With You When You Come” is the fourth song and the first half is a rhythm and blues feel and then goes into a up tempo gospel like style. Kind of a cute song.
Next to last is “Cotton Candy Man”, which is not whimsical as the title may suggest. It is a rather poorly done pop ballad with a male lead that is disappointing. The lyrics are also poor.
The LP finishes with the theme of “Christopher’s Movie Matinee” for two minutes as an outro, if you will.
Here is the only film of them live that I have come across. The sound is not good of course due to the technology of the time and deterioration, but you get to see what they were like: