The Lickerish Quartet Thrives on the Power of Three

Supergroups have been an integral part of the rock mystique practically since the beginning. The so-called Million Dollar Quartet, consisting of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, first birthed the concept during an impromptu jam session at Sun Studios in 1956, a time when rock and roll was still coming of age. Just over a dozen years later the idea came to full flourish with the deliberate convergence of such star-tilted ensembles as Blind Faith and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, the former a reflection of their uncertainty and the latter a banner more befitting a law firm than a casual conglomeration. Nevertheless, the appeal was obvious — gather a group of stellar players, each with a fabled resume of their own, allow them the ability to combine their talents, and then witness what results.

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The idea has apparently fallen out of favor in recent times — the one notable exception being the Traveling Wilburys a top-heavy gathering featuring George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty whose brief tenure was a testament to untenable circumstance — but the idea still holds magic and mystique, especially to those who are star-struck by the possibilities.

The latest outfit to lay claim to a similarly distinct designation is a band that calls themselves The Lickerish Quartet. Granted, it’s actually a trio and not a quartet, and the pedigrees are nowhere near as hallowed as the aforementioned ensembles. However for power pop aficionados, there will likely be a decided lure regardless. The band’s charter members — Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (Beck, Air, Cheap Trick, Imperial Drag), Tim Smith (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, The Finn Brothers, Sheryl Crow, Umajets) and Eric Dover (Imperial Drag, Slash’s Snakepit, Alice Cooper, Sextus) — obviously boast impressive credentials of their own, and their initial offering, a four song EP dubbed Threesome Vol. 1 offers a hint of their potential prowess with the promise of more to come.

The common connection for all three players was their initial partnership in Jellyfish, which last found them working in common on the band’s Spilt Milk album some 27 years prior, but regardless, the new combo marks a belated return as far as all three.

The results are predictably flush with plenty of power pop references, from the assertive opener “Lighthouse Spaceship,” with its plethora of Beatles/Badfinger references, to the semi-psychedelic swirl of “There Is a Magic Number,” the harmonious ELO-sounding ballad “Bluebird’s Blues,” and the fanciful “Fadoodle,” a playful look at practical ways of rekindling a relationship as it might have once been imagined had Queen given it their own regal treatment.

“I think we share many influences together, though it’s hard to quantify,” Dover suggests. “Between the three of us is a massive knowledge of music past and present. We never really go into it thinking it has to sound like any one in particular. Sometimes we’ll play each other something we dig as an inspiration, but it’s usually more for arrangement, vibe or timbre purposes. At the end of the day it’s up to the three of us coming together with the music and lyrics. It’s a very fluid process.”

Naturally, hints of their former associations find their way into the mix, and with them, a willingness to indulge in lush production and heavenly harmonies as the key components of their pop perfect sound. Both the energy and enthusiasm are apparent, evidence that even at the outset that the three musicians clearly clicked immediately. Each man has stated their satisfaction with the set-up while promising that there’ll be more music to come. With a determination not to allow egos to interfere, it appears that democracy and desire will prevail.

“There should be a reasonably quick follow up as we have a dozen tracks in the can at the moment, and yes it will be called Volume 2,” Dover insists. “We have enjoyed reconnecting immensely, so I think it’s safe to assume we shall record more music together.”

While the arrangements are elaborate to a great degree, the circumstance that brought the trio together was decidedly straight forward. “It was Roger who got in touch with Tim in 2017,” Dover recalls. “They then reached out to me. I think we all were very enthusiastic to reconnect. Once we got into the workflow, it was like the old riding a bicycle adage.”

That said, Dover dismisses any chance that even after the pandemic subsides, the band will choose to tour.

“The short answer is no,” the musician replies when asked about the possibilities. “We may endeavor virtual engagements in the future, but for now, with the world in turmoil over the virus, I have grave doubts that live music performed to a crowd will ever be the same as it was again. It’s heartbreaking, but that’s the reality we must deal with.”

Dover also discounts the need to typecast themselves by tying themselves to any particular style or sound. After all, categorization can be misleading. “Speaking for myself, I don’t follow genres as much as I do songs and songwriting,” he says. “It could be any genre really, and if it’s something that connects with me, I’m in. I hold a huge place in my heart for power pop in the classic sense, but I couldn’t tell you much about its current landscape.”

Leave it then to The Lickerish Quartet to set their own parameters and find an even division of three in the process.

If you dig what you hear, consider pre-ordering their next project.

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