We're celebrating the upcoming 15th anniversary of "3 and the Beast" with a track-by-track review of the album, which was first released on April 21, 2007 and is now available for the first time on vinyl.
- 1 Track 1 - Emergency
- 2 Track 2 - Push Back Now
- 3 Track 3 - I Bet My Soul on You
- 4 Track 4 - The Leaves
- 5 Track 5 - Standby
- 6 Track 6 - The Brave Path to You
- 7 Track 7 - One of the Unsinkable
- 8 Track 8 - It's Gonna Burst
- 9 Track 9 - Faces to the Sun
- 10 Track 10 - All Is Right
- 11 Track 11 - I Could Be Reborn
Track 1 - Emergency
With their first two records, Super 400 proved to be world-class musicians and songwriters, effortlessly shifting between lilting pop ballads, psychedelic soul and crunchy, hook-filled rock epics.
Their third record opens with "Emergency," a punishingly frenetic heavy rocker completely unlike anything else in their recorded catalog. It's loud, fast, brash and it sets the tone for the rest of the album, which sees the band continuing to evolve and reinvent themselves, while expanding and reinvigorating the classic rock power trio format.
The first time "Emergency" was performed live was November 26, 2005, at the "Live 05" album release show at the Ale House in Troy. It immediately became a staple of their live setlists, where it remains in 2022.
More than a year prior to the release of "3 and the Beast," Super 400 shared a demo version of "Emergency" on their Myspace page. The demo was 35 seconds shorter than the final album version.
Track 2 - Push Back Now
A crackling staccato riff from Kenny opens this scorcher, and when Joe and Lori drop in around the 12 second mark, they settle into an infectious, amped-up boogie groove that makes you wanna shake whatever you have available. While "Push Back Now" is instantly accessible, it still has that unmistakable Super 400 sound and unique chord choices. And after the last chorus, who can resist pumping a fist and singing "PUSH THE WALL" at the top of your lungs?
'Push Back Now' was played live for the first time at Tess' Lark Tavern in Albany, NY on July 9, 2005. And on August 30, 2006, the band released a demo version of the song on their MySpace page, which was 12 seconds shorter than the final album version.
Track 3 - I Bet My Soul on You
By the time "3 and the Beast" was released, this bluesy banger had been a constant in the band's live sets since its debut back on December 18, 2003 at Daisy Baker's in Troy, NY. Clocking in at under three minutes, it's a straight-forward, thumping rocker, and always a crowd favorite. Listen closely to Joe and Lori's deceptively intricate interplay during the guitar solo for an example of what makes them one of the best rhythm sections in rock and roll.
The band released a demo version of "I Bet My Soul on You" on their MySpace page on March 1, 2006.
Track 4 - The Leaves
One of the most underrated songs in the Super 400 catalog, "The Leaves" is a gem. There are elegantly poetic lyrics on mystical themes of rebirth and renewal, soaring lead vocals from Kenny, genius drumming from Joe and some of Lori's most instinctual and beautiful basslines. The chorus is breathtakingly melodic, and it's the first of the two songs on the album to reference crows.
The band first performed "The Leaves" live on January 8, 2005 at the Ale House in Troy. A demo version was released on the band's MySpace page on March 1, 2006, just over year before the release of "3 and the Beast."
Track 5 - Standby
Another up-tempo heavy rock stomper, "Standby" begins with a urgent, churning bass groove from Lori, and the band hits full speed about 7 seconds in. Themes of love, friendship and determination are threaded through the apparently autobiographical lyrics, and there's another killer shout-along refrain: "STANDBY! STANDBY-Y-Y!"
And the first time "Standby" was performed live was on an auspicious occasion - Feburary 25, 2006, when "Super 400 Day" was first celebrated in the city of Troy after a declaration by Mayor Harry Tutunjian.
Track 6 - The Brave Path to You
Another open-throttle, up-tempo rocker, "The Brave Path to You," blasts off immediately and insistently. When Kenny sings at the end of the first verse "but I can't slow down," and the breakneck-speed boogie riff of the chorus kicks in, you're hearing the perfectly-tuned Super 400 machine traveling at top speed. Please do not operate heavy machinery while under the influence of this song.
The first time "The Brave Path to You" was played live was November 26, 2004 at the Ale House in Troy, a little more than a month after the release of "Blast the Message."
Track 7 - One of the Unsinkable
Another underrated Super 400 classic, "One of the Unsinkable" strolls in at an easy pace, while Kenny's plaintive vocals help set a more thoughtful mood. The chorus swings, with the lyrics imploring the listener to "grab onto the wreckage and float" and "be one of the unsinkable." The bridge is absolutely sublime and one of the finest passages ever laid to wax by the Troy trio, with Joe, Lori and Kenny at their mind-melded best, climaxing with the gorgeous "on a ladder to reach the sun, there's room for everyone."
The first time "One of the Unsinkable" was played live was August 21, 2004 at Tess' Lark Tavern in Albany, a couple of months prior to the release of "Blast the Message."
Track 8 - It's Gonna Burst
The fearsome threesome kicks up the pace a few notches with the driving "It's Gonna Burst." Shifting between first- and second-person perspectives, the lyrics describe a litany of unfortunate circumstances ("a head full of problems," "a brake for a throttle," "your work goes down in flames") but always circles back to the buoyant mantra of the chorus, "I got a heart full of love, feels like it's gonna burst!" The tune became yet another of the album's frequently-played live song of the era, guaranteed to get the crowd up and moving, and it's easy to hear why...it's quintessential Super 400.
The first time "It's Gonna Burst" was played live was March 26, 2005 at Sin-é on Manhattan's Lower East Side, and remained on the band's live setlists, often in the opening slot, for years.
Track 9 - Faces to the Sun
"Faces to the Sun" is one of those songs that feels timeless...a lumbering heavy rock hymnal rife with esoteric phrases and mesmerizing riffs. By the time you're beseeched to "take your place(s)" and "turn your face(s) to the sun," you'll be fully ready to do both.
In early 2004, Kenny debuted the opening riff of "Faces To The Sun" as part of an improvised jam with local musician Steve Candlen's weekly "Family Tree" project at Tess' Lark Tavern in Albany, NY, which featured a changing lineup of local musicians throughout each evening's performance. Over the next several months, that riff became part of an intro jam during a handful of live performances of "Cause." By the end of the summer, it became a fully-formed song that debuted on September 18, 2004, at Larkfest in Albany.
Track 10 - All Is Right
"All Is Right" was written fairly early in Super 400's history. The earliest known recorded performance was on the local cable TV show "Sounding Board" in October 2000, and was officially released as the fourth track on "Live 05."
But the studio version was a necessary and magnificent addition to the band's recorded legacy. An aching love ballad of the highest rock degree, it opens not with guitar or bass, but with Joe Daley's perfectly executed, brief drum intro, before settling into a slow, hypnotic groove. It's simply one of the prettiest songs the Supes have done. The studio version ends differently than the live versions, with a looping repeat of the "if you don't belong (to me)" verse before fading out, a brilliant twist that leaves the listener wishing for more.
Track 11 - I Could Be Reborn
"I Could Be Reborn" begins quite softly, with a repeating, hypnotic guitar riff and Kenny's restrained, lower-register vocals, before it slowly builds to a thunderous crescendo and chorus. On a record where the band took a huge creative step forward and widely broadened their musical palette, the declaration of rebirth and renewal makes "I Could Be Reborn" not only another instant classic, but also the perfect closer for this album. It's also another prime example of the band taking a deceptively simple song and masterfully creating shades of color and dynamic every inch of the way.
The first time "I Could Be Reborn" was played live was June 25, 2005, at the Abbey Lounge in Somerville, MA.
"I Could Be Reborn" became part of a live show "trilogy" of sorts, along with "Faces to the Sun" and "Cause." For a several years, all three of these songs would be played back-to-back in various permutations, seamlessly segueing between each tune.