Nigel Dixon - vocals, rhythm guitar; Paul Simonon - bass, vocals; Gary Myrick - lead guitar, vocals; Travis Williams - drums, percussion
Warming up to the tune of "Hey Amigo," their own Ennio Morricone-styled intro, Havana 3 AM proceed to transform mood music and loopy sound affects into rock energy by fusing ska, rockabilly, Latin rhythms and spaghetti western music to a stripped down four chord sound.
Between the fusion and naming their band after an album by mambo king Prez Prado, you could say that Havana 3 AM were on the leading edge of cross cultural genre hybridization way back when they formed in 1990. Co-led by former Clash bassist Paul Simonon and Texas guitarist Gary Myrick, fronted by Nigel Dixon (formerly of UK band Whirlwind) and held steady by drummer Travis Williams, the group's eight-song set recorded live in New York City features material from their 1991 self-titled debut. It's straightforward fare, mostly concerning urban phenomenon: "Living in the Town," is "about London," "Surfing the City" (describing riding the tops of subway trains) rides on waves of chunky chords and an adamant chorus that could easily fit into the repertoire of Simonon's old band. Listening to the bassist move through "Blue Gene Vincent," a tribute to "the late great" rockabilly pioneer that nods not only to his hiccupping vocal style but also to his distinct, crying guitar, you can hear where Simonon's own rockabilly bass runs helped to define the Clash sound, along with his reggae influence.
His rebel rocker attitude also contributed to establishing the Havana 3 AM project as a forceful entity; however, he would not be long for the job. Following his departure in 1993 and the death of drummer Williams, Myrick proverbially soldiered on to not-so-great effect. Retaining the band name and releasing an album with a different line-up in 1996, he too eventually lost faith in the effort. Perhaps it was not the collaborators' fate to make it or produce a large catalog, however the live archive remains. This performance demonstrates that when the stars line up just right, the powerful original lineup of Havana 3 AM, though short-lived in its tenure and under-looked in its day, was capable of conjuring roots music tradition, combining it with a little personal flash and style, and making some damn fine undiluted rock 'n' roll. This show offers a taste of their definitive post '80s/pre-grunge rock 'n' rhythm sound.