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Marvelous 3 - Hey! Album Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.5
Musicianship 8.5
Lyrics 8.5
Production 8.5
Creativity 8.5
Lasting Value 8.5
Reviewer Tilt 8.5
Final Verdict: 85%
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Marvelous 3 - Hey! Album

Reviewed by: Craig Manning (09/09/13)
Marvelous 3 Hey! Album
Release Date: October 27, 1998
Record Label:
Elektra Records

In today’s other review, I wrote that Math and Other Problems, the debut album from Butch Walker’s 1990s power pop trio, the Marvelous 3, felt like a half-formed statement from a band that was still very indebted to their influences. On Hey! Album, the group’s sophomore-record-turned-major-label-debut, the leap forward is almost remarkable. Don’t get me wrong, Walker and company don’t try that many new things here: it’s still a slick, catchy album full of punchy power pop songs and with a foot planted firmly in 1980s alternative rock. But instead of spending the whole record imitating his influences, Walker establishes himself here as full-throated rock ‘n’ roll frontman, with the charisma, the passion, and the songwriting ability to go the whole nine yards. Naturally, his band follows suit.

The version of Hey! Album that most Marvelous 3 fans know—the one with a bed on the cover—was released by Elektra Records in late 1998, but the album wasn’t originally conceived as a major label hit parade. Instead, Walker, Jayce, and Slug recorded Hey! Album in the same manner as their previous album (on Walker's old Pro Tools rig) and released the songs independently earlier in the year. It wasn’t until one of those songs, a pop-rock gem titled “Freak of the Week,” began to collect radio play that the major labels came calling. With radio stations in the band’s native Atlanta putting the song into regular rotation and increasingly large audiences showing up at the band’s hometown shows, it was only a matter of time before Walker and his two best friends were roped into the major label system. “Freak of the Week” was already a minor hit, an almost guaranteed success in the hands of the correct label, and with the right levels of promotion, there was no reason that several other songs off the uniformly hook-laden Hey! Album couldn’t crack the charts as well. Right? Well, maybe not.

Signed by Elektra Records mid-1998, the Marvelous 3 were rapidly corralled into the nonsense of the 1990s major label scene. Hey! Album was remixed, edited, and covered in an appropriate level of radio rock sheen. Several songs from the independent version remained on the cutting room floor (gems like “Fastboat” and “I Just Wanna Go Home”) while another, the propulsive “Cold As Hell,” was put on hold for the band’s next record. Meanwhile, Elektra went about positioning “Freak of the Week” as a flagship first single (which it was) and building the band up into an outfit of hitmakers (which they never would be). “Freak” was a minor hit, landing at number 5 on Billboard’s modern rock chart. In most circles, the song was and is inconsequential, a forgotten gem from a band of 1990s also-rans. For Butch Walker and the guys in the Marvelous 3, it was the cause of a lifelong designation of “one hit wonder.”

Undoubtedly, Hey! Album’s lack of holdover success pissed Elektra off, so much that the label more or less derailed the career of the Marvelous 3 a few years later, but if the band guys were bothered by the disappointing radio reception, they certainly didn’t let on at the time. Walker and company spent the months and years following the release of Hey! Album on the road, occupying both opening and headlining slots, playing their songs to loud and appreciative crowds, and building a fiercely passionate following along the way. They may not have been a match with what was going on with mainstream radio at the end of the millennium—take a look at the number 1 singles from 1998 and 1999 and you will see precisely why Marvelous 3 never stood a chance—but their songs were catchy as candy and their live show was one of the highest-energy exports in rock music. In other words, these guys would have been just fine if their label hadn’t gotten in the way. But that’s a story for tomorrow.

Going back to Hey! Album today, it’s almost remarkable how fresh everything sounds, from the sing-along hooks of “Until You See” and “Write it on Your Hand” to the seriously weird, hysterically funny spoken-word monologue that concludes album closer “Lemonade.” Where Math and Other Problems only had one or two songs that I would consider to be among Walker’s best, Hey! Album is more or less chock full of them. Opener “You’re So Yesterday” storms out of the gate with a patent, snarling Butch Walker verse and an earworm chorus (not to mention a "Sweet Caroline" snippet toward the end of the song), while “Indie Queen” showed just how adept Walker was at creating pristine moments of pop perfection, falsetto vocals and all. “Vampires in Love” plays around with dumb puns (“And now I know that I suck at this, and you suck at it too/And now we’re nothing more than vampires in love,” goes the pre-chorus) and sounds a little too on-the-nose today, in the age of Twilight, but also still manages too be both endearing and innately hummable. “Every Monday” remains one of the few Marvelous 3 songs Butch will revisit live, a rousing slice of power pop with some of Walker’s most unforgettable lyrics (“I called up Marie, she have sex for free/But for 10 bucks an hour she’d listen to me”). And the cigarette-lighter anthem that is “Let Me Go” is the album’s peak, a realization of the balladic prowess that Butch only hinted at with “The Last Sleep” on the first record.

In their brief write-up for Hey! Album, All Music Guide called the record “a near-perfect combination of angst and bliss,” referring to the fact that, while these songs are loaded with memorable hooks and supremely melodic verses, the lyrics are all about break-ups, bad relationships, drinking binges at the bar, and cancelled TV shows. Since this album, Butch has thrived time and time again on songs that blend perfect pop sensibility with emotional intensity. In fact, from the relationship-breakdown-in-Los-Angeles that was 2004’s Letters,to the ode for the things he lost in a wildfire on 2008’s Sycamore Meadows, Walker has largely defined his career on a dichotomy of pop sheen and confessional songwriting. With the upcoming Peachtree Battle EP and the recent passing of his father, it looks like Butch is poised to return to that sort of emotional touchstone once more, making Marvelous 3’s Hey! Album that much more pivotal as a piece of his history. Math and Other Problems may have broken the ice, but this was the true debut because it planted the seeds for the songwriter that Walker would become.

8.5/10

Additional InformationMarvelous 3 Is...
Butch Walker: Guitar/Lead Vocals
Mitch “Slug” McLee: Drums
Jayce Fincher: Bass

Track Listing:

01. You're So Yesterday
02. Freak of the Week
03. Until You See
04. Write It on Your Hand
05. Let Me Go
06. Every Monday
07. Indie Queen
08. #27
09. Mrs. Jackson
10. Over Your Head
11. Vampires in Love
12. Lemonade

All Songs Written by Butch Walker
Produced by Jim Ebert and Butch Walker
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 29
08:55 AM on 09/09/13
#2
leifstar
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Great write up!
09:31 AM on 09/09/13
#3
RyanCT
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Great stuff, great album. This was my first real introduction to Butch Walker, though I was also a fan of Southgang back in the 90s (though I had no idea who Butch was back then). There isn't a bad song on this album.
10:11 AM on 09/09/13
#4
Craig Manning
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Thanks! Check back tomorrow and throughout the week for more.

Great stuff, great album. This was my first real introduction to Butch Walker, though I was also a fan of Southgang back in the 90s (though I had no idea who Butch was back then). There isn't a bad song on this album.

Really, really love this album. Wasn't my introduction to him - I entered the picture a bit later on - but I really enjoyed going back to these albums after having gotten into his solo material. Is this your favorite M3 album? I'll be interested to see how our opinions on his stuff intersect.
10:40 AM on 09/09/13
#5
RyanCT
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Yeah I'd have to give Hey Album th edge over ReadySexGo but only by a very small margin, followed by Math & Other Problems, which is also a lot of fun. RSG is a pretty awesome rock album with sick hooks and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. On this album, You're so Yesterday, Let Me Go, Freak of the Week, Indie Queen, Every Monday are all great tracks. Looking forward to your write up of RSG.
12:04 PM on 09/09/13
#6
Craig Manning
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Yeah I'd have to give Hey Album th edge over ReadySexGo but only by a very small margin, followed by Math & Other Problems, which is also a lot of fun. RSG is a pretty awesome rock album with sick hooks and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. On this album, You're so Yesterday, Let Me Go, Freak of the Week, Indie Queen, Every Monday are all great tracks. Looking forward to your write up of RSG.

RSG gets the edge for me, though Hey is probably more solid front to back.
02:00 PM on 09/09/13
#7
anamericangod
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Very cool writeup. This is one of the most important records of my youth, as it was one of the first albums that showed me music could be something more than just something you'd listen to for entertainment.
03:34 PM on 09/09/13
#8
The Summer Ends
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this was one of the first albums i ever bought, along with where have all the merrymakers gone? and maybe you've been brainwashed too. one of my the most important albums i ever listened to.
05:10 PM on 09/09/13
#9
irthesteve
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This album is so fun, love it
05:26 PM on 09/09/13
Craig Manning
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Very cool writeup. This is one of the most important records of my youth, as it was one of the first albums that showed me music could be something more than just something you'd listen to for entertainment.

This might be a topic for tomorrow, but you were at the last M3 show, right?

this was one of the first albums i ever bought, along with where have all the merrymakers gone? and maybe you've been brainwashed too. one of my the most important albums i ever listened to.

Nice, always great to find new fans around these parts. Hope you'll tune in for the rest of the series.

This album is so fun, love it

I know, right? I love Butch as a ballad guy, but it's also just a riot to see him do a record that is fun, upbeat pop rock all the way through. This and The Spade are definitely like that.
05:32 PM on 09/09/13
irthesteve
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I know, right? I love Butch as a ballad guy, but it's also just a riot to see him do a record that is fun, upbeat pop rock all the way through. This and The Spade are definitely like that.
Tracks like "Every Monday" and "Let Me Go" are just such good examples of how great of a pop writer this dude is
05:43 PM on 09/09/13
Craig Manning
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Tracks like "Every Monday" and "Let Me Go" are just such good examples of how great of a pop writer this dude is
Yeah, the middle section is crazy good. "Let Me Go" into "Indie Queen" into "Every Monday" is one of his best streaks of songs.
05:46 PM on 09/09/13
anamericangod
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This might be a topic for tomorrow, but you were at the last M3 show, right?



Nice, always great to find new fans around these parts. Hope you'll tune in for the rest of the series.



I know, right? I love Butch as a ballad guy, but it's also just a riot to see him do a record that is fun, upbeat pop rock all the way through. This and The Spade are definitely like that.
I was. It was unbelievable.
05:47 PM on 09/09/13
Craig Manning
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I was. It was unbelievable.
Bastard. Can't even imagine how emotional "Cigarette Lighter Love Song" was at that show.
05:48 PM on 09/09/13
irthesteve
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Yeah, the middle section is crazy good. "Let Me Go" into "Indie Queen" into "Every Monday" is one of his best streaks of songs.
I think you have Monday and Queen swapped, unless we have different versions of the CD
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