The term power trio came about a few decades ago
with bands like Cream, Rush, and Triumph. But limiting
a mix of three-piece bands to classic rockers is, well,
limiting. So here is a list that includes three-piece
rock from the ‘80s, 90’s and today. Yeah, that just
sounded like one of those cookie cutter radio station
promos, didn’t it? Well, who needs radio when you can
make your own playlists from files of music on your
computer? Here is my three-piece band entry:
"Long Way Down," Goo Goo Dolls (A Boy Named Goo)
This album bridged the gap between the Goo Goo Dolls’ raucous punk rock days and their made-for-radio albums – meaning it is melodic, raunchy, and ear-splitting all at the same time.
"Limelight," Rush (Moving Pictures)
Sometimes the music created by just three band members exceeds the sum of its parts. That was always the case with Rush. You will marvel at the musicianship of these guys individually and collectively, so long as you can tolerate Geddy Lee’s piercing vocals.
"Lay It on the Line," Triumph (Just
I’m old enough to have seen these guys live in the ‘80s, and it is still one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Guitarist/singer Rik Emmett was the shit, and probably still is.
"Flathead," The Fratellis (Costello
This new band may just rock the very balls off of you. If you don’t start tapping your foot or bobbing your head when you play this song, chances are you start your day with a glass of prune juice and yell at the neighbor’s kids to get off your lawn.
"Never You Mind," Semisonic (Feeling
Everyone knows "Closing Time," but this album is deeper than a pool of (insert your witty metaphor here). Seriously, Dan Wilson and company crafted only one great album out of the handful they released, and this is it.
"Until You See," Marvelous 3 (Hey!
Before Butch Walker became famous producing the likes of Avril Lavigne and Bowling for Soup, and even before he put out his genius solo album, Left of Self-Centered, he fronted this kickass three-piece band.
"Happy Day Mama," Better Than Ezra (How
Does Your Garden Grow?)
That’s "Happy Day MAY-MAY," and not the way it looks at first glance. BTE has penned plenty of moody, brooding alt-pop songs, but this bouncy track is the kind of thing you might hear in your head if you found a $100 bill on the street.
"Doorman," Stereophonics (Language,
Sex, Violence. Other?)
The breakout album from this British rock band is full of gritty songs with enough testosterone to help spawn a small country. And it has the lyric, "Suck my banana / Suck it with cream." Enough said?
"Smells Like Teen Spirit," Nirvana (Nevermind)
Forget about the fact that this band helped to change the rock landscape in the ‘90s, and for a moment just take them for what they were: a fucking great band.
"Next to You," The Police (Outlandos
Before new wave was a recognized term, the Police fit into more of a raw punk category with a pop sensibility. And this song rocked about as hard as anything they ever put out.
"You Wanted More," Tonic (Sugar)
The modern rock movement at the turn of the century was in full swing when Tonic was popular. If you like melodic songs and guitars driving them, chances are you dig this band’s music.
"Always Love," Nada Surf (The Weight
is a Gift)
If ever there has been a band that has mellowed with age like a fine wine, it’s Nada Surf. The band had a modest modern rock hit in the mid-nineties with "Popular," but this 2003 effort is the band’s most complete album.
"From the Beginning," Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Lumped into the progressive rock genre that included the likes of King Crimson, Yes, and Gentle Giant, ELP wrote a few moody, beautiful, acoustic-driven gems like this one.
"One More Chance," Zebra (Zebra)
Zebra effectively blended their influences, Led Zeppelin and the Moody Blues, into something completely unique and moving. This track is a perfect example of two styles meshing into something way greater that the sum of its musical parts.
"White Room," Cream (Wheels of Fire)
It would be really bogus to leave off one of the great three-piece bands in rock history, so I’ll fittingly end with Cream. Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker had a sound that epitomized classic rock as we know it.