3's a Crowd


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1964-66) as The Bill Schwartz Quartet

- Brent Titcomb -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Trevor Veitch -- vocals, lead guitar

- Donna Warner -- vocals

 

  line up 2  (1965-66) 

NEW - Danny Schultz -- bass

- Brent Titcomb -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Trevor Veitch -- vocals, lead guitar

- Donna Warner -- vocals

 

  line up 3  (1966)  as Three's a Crowd (3's a Crowd)

NEW - Richard Patterson (RIP 2011) -- drums, percussion

NEW - Comrie Smith -- bass (replaced Danny Shccultz)

- Brent Titcomb -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Trevor Veitch -- vocals, lead guitar

- Donna Warner -- vocals

NEW - Dave Wiffin -- vocals, rhythm guitar

 

  line up 4  (1966-68) 

NEW - Ken Klobun -- bass (replaced Comrie Smith)

- Richard Patterson -- drums, percussion

- Brent Titcomb -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Trevor Veitch -- vocals, lead guitar

- Donna Warner -- vocals

- Dave Wiffin -- vocals, rhythm guitar

 

  line up 5  (1969) 

NEW - Sandy Crawley -- vocals, guitar (replaced Trevor Veitch)

NEW - Bruce Cockburn -- vocals, guitar (replaced Brent Titcomb)

- Richard Patterson -- drums, percussion

NEW- Dennis Pendrith -- bass (replaced Ken Klobun)

NEW- Colleen Peterson (RIP 1996) -- vocals (replaced 

  Donna Warner)

- Dave Wiffin -- vocals, rhythm guitar

 

 

 

 

- The Buffalo Springfield (Ken Blobkun)

- Canada Goose (Dennis Pendrith)

- The Children (Richard Patterson, David Wiffin and sand Crawler)

- Bruce Cockburn (solo efforts)

- The Five D (Colleen Peterson)

- The Kopala Trio (Donna Warner)

- Colleen Peterson (solo efforts)

- Quartette  (Colleen Peterson)

- The Bill Schwartz Quartet

- Spriggs and Bringle (Colleen Peterson)

- St. Patrick Street Rimming House (Colleen Peterson)

- Taking Care of Business  (Colleen Peterson)

- Brent Titcomb (solo efforts)

- David Wiffin (solo efforts)


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Christopher's Movie Matinee

Company: Dunhill

Catalog:  DS 50030
Year:
 1968

Country/State: Vancouver, British Columbia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3508

Price: $15.00

Three's a Crowd (aka 3's a Crowd) formed in 1964 and were originally known as The Bill Schwartz Quartet.  Curiously there was no namesake Schwartz and the quartet was initially a trio featuring singer/guitarist Brent Titcomb, singer/guitarist Trevor Veitch, and lead singer Donna Warner.  Relocating to swinging Toronto, the signed with Epic, making their recording debut with a 1966 single:

  Canada:

- 'Bound To Fly' \b/w 'Big Steel Rail' (Epic catalog number 5-10073)

   US:

- 'Bound To Fly' \b/w 'Steel Rail Blues' (Epic catalog number 5-10073)

 

Dropped by Epic the group expanded to a six piece with the addition of drummer Richard Patterson, bassist Comrie Smith, and rhythm guitarist David Wiffin.  Patterson and Wiffin had been members of the folk-rock band The Children. They also changed their name to Three's a Crowd (aka 3's a Crowd).   Their next break came when the were discovered playing in a Yorktown nightclub and were selected to perform at Montreal's Expo '67 World Fair.  Cass Elliott supposedly discovered them at the Fair and helped them get an audition with ABC.  Concerned they were too Mamas and the Papas-ish, ABC apparently passed on the group, but they then got an opportunity to record some demos for Bell Records. The Bell deal fell apart and they were signed by RCA Victor in Canada.  ABC's Dunhill subsidiary (which had been The mamas and the Papas label), signed them in the US.  

Co-producer by Cass and  Steve Barri, the band's line album "Christopher's Move Matinee" was released in 1968.  Musically the collection bore more than a passing resemblance to folk-rock groups like The Mamas and the Papas (big surprise), Spanky and Our Gang, and The We Five.  Given those comparisons it shouldn't come as a surprise that tracks like '','' and '' featured a commercial, if slightly MOR-ish folk-rock sound.  That wasn't to imply the band didn't have their share of talent.  As primary lead singer Warner was dynamite, occasionally sounding a bit like a young Grace Slick.  The woman had some chops.  Titcomb and Wiffin were also impressive singers.  Heavy on covers (including four sings penned by future member Bruce Cockburn), they turned in decent covers of Dino Valenti's 'Let's Get Together' and Gerry Goffin and Carol King's 'Wasn't It You'.  Interestingly, the standout performance was also the album's lone original Wiffen's rollicking 'I Don't Wanna Drive You Away'.   Nah, it was far from a great album, but it had a couple of keepers and is actually marginally better than most reviews would have you expect.

 

"Christopher's Movie Matinee" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Overture (Christopher's Movie Matinee) - 0:17   rating: ** stars

It was only a song fragment, but the seventeen second introduction 'Overture (Christopher's Movie Matinee' sounded like second rate Spanky and Our Gang. Not a promising start.

2.) Let's Get Together  (Dino Valenti)  - 2:55   rating: *** stars

 

I'll give them credit for having good taste in their covers and their cover wasn't half bad, but I'm not sue why you'd want to hear this cover when the Youngbloods original was so much better.  Very Mamas and the Papas sounding.   Donna Warner on lead vocals - imagine a more powerful Judy Collins.  The song was tapped as a Canadian single:

 

1969's 'Let's Get Together' b/w 'Drive You Away' (RCA Victor catalog number D-4131)

 

 

 

 

3.) Coat of Colors   (Murray. McLaughlin) - 3:10  rating: **** stars

Sporting a bublegum pop arrangement, 'Coat of Colors' captured the group at their most commercial and radio-friendly.   This was probably the tune that rCA should have floated as a single.  Very summer-of-love vibe that would have floated on AM radio.

4.) The Way She Smiles   (Bruce Cockburn) - 3:20   rating: ** stars

'The Way She Smiles' was one of four Bruce Cockburn tunes (he would also serve as a late-inning member of the group).  An ornate, '60s styled ballad, the song featured Brent Titcomb on lead vocals, and was pretty enough, but ultimate sank under Jimmie Haskell's overwhelming string arran 

5.) Wasn't It You   (Gerry Goffin - Carol King) - 2:40  rating: **** stars

Perhaps not quite as good as the Petula Clark, but darn close.  Nice forum to display Warner's impressive chops.  You can hear Cass Elliott on backing vocals

6.) Gnostic Serenade  (Bruce Cockburn) - 3:45  rating: *** stars

Cockburn's 'Gnostic Serenade' was pretty enough, but what could have been a stunning performance was reduced to good thanks to the obtrusive orchestration.  David Wiffin on lead vocals.  The Tom Rush cover is far superior.

 

(side 2)

1.) Bird without Wings  (Bruce Cockburn) - 3:02    rating: **** stars

Another track showcasing Warner's killer voice (imagine Grace Slick as a folk singer), the ballad 'Bird without Wings' was easily one of the best things Cockburn ever wrote and thegroup's best known song,  It was released as a single in multiple countries:

- 1967's 'Bird without Wings' b/w 'Coat of Colors'  (Dunhill catalog number D-4120)

2.) I Don't Wanna Drive You Away   (David Whifen) - 2:37  rating: **** stars

Penned by Whiffen, 'I Don't Wanna Drive You Away' was one of the songs the group had previously recorded for Bell.  It's my pick for the album's stand out performance.  Kicked along by the album's most rock oriented arrangement, this one showed what the group was actually capable of doing.   Fantastic Klobun bass work ...  YouTube has a black and white clip of the rather dour looking band lip-synching the tune on the Canadian Let's Go television program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tu0HSoCRGsI 

3.) View from Pompus Head  (Bruce Cockburn) - 3:00   rating: ** stars

'View from Pompus Head found the band reverting to a more traditional folk sound.  Touch of 'Elenore Rigby' orchestration on this one.

4.) Don't Mess Up a Good Thing / Bring It with You When You Come  (Oliver Sain / traditional) - 4:00  rating: *** stars

The album's most Mamas and the Papas-styled track, you couldn't have been blamed for mistaking this for Cass and company.  The first half of this melody was actually quite enjoyable - the second part was a rather pro-forma cover.   

5.) Cotton Candy Man   (W. Hawkins) - 3:05   rating: ** stars

Sappy and forgettable ballad.

6.) Christopher's Movie Matinee   (W. Hawkins)- 2:00   rating: ** stars

Simply too cute for their own good.  Imagine a truly bad Spanky and Our Gang song.

 

 

I've never seen it, but the Canadian National Film Board released a documentary entitled "Christopher's Movie Matinee".  The film was about the country's counter culture movement and featured the band and some of the songs from their album.  No disrespect intended, but its hard to imagine these guys were symbolic of a counter culture movement ...

 

 

 

There's at least one Canadian non-LP 45:

 

1967's 'Honey machine' b/w 'When teh Sun Goes Down' (Epic catalog number 5-10151)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drummer Patterson died in April 2010.

Having replaced Warner in the band, singer Peterson died of cancer in October1996.

 

 

 

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