54) Gary U.S. Bonds – “Quarter to Three”

It’s tempting to think of “Quarter to Three” topping the charts as the public doing penance for making “Moody River” a #1 hit.  Instead of a melodramatic death disc covered in the sticky ooze of insincerity, we get a straightforward, fun song about dancing till the wee hours. (It may or may not be worth commenting that Boone was also replaced atop the charts by an actual African-American R&B singer.)  Because if “Quarter to Three” isn’t a reaction to Pat Boone, it seems a minor league choice for #1.   Bonds gently barks out his tale recounting a previous night’s revelry over a charmingly simple arrangement – handclaps and a saxophone.   Most intriguing, though, are the background vocalists, whose haphazard whoops, whistles and chants add verity to the record’s live and spontaneous sound.  The record’s rawness is refreshing, especially in an era of gloopy production.  Nevertheless, it’s just missing that tiny but inimitable thrill, which is particularly evident when compared with the full-out rush of the next entry.  While it’s more exciting and soulful than anything Boone could ever release (but then, what isn’t), unfortunately it’s still a little too flat to really be the raucous, party (most of the) night number it wants to be. 6

Hit #1 on June 26, 1961; total of 2 weeks at #1
54 of 969 #1’s reviewed; 5.57% through the Hot 100



Filed under 06, 1961

3 responses to “54) Gary U.S. Bonds – “Quarter to Three”

  1. Bonds is a soul classic! He has a great voice and this is a classic that Rolling Stone gave kudos to a few years back on the 500 Best Songs list.

  2. You know, my ratings are pretty arbitrary. While I don’t revise grades, I’ll admit that this was one case where I definitely underrated.

    Your blog looks awesome, by the way. I look forward to reading about all 499 tracks!

  3. Marc Rettus

    Wow, taking up so much commentary on this song with the irrelevant pat boone.

    Pat boone; 220 consecutive weeks with at least one song on the charts, 45,000,000 records sold, 38 top 40 hits…

    What does pat have to do with gary us bonds again? Do you hate the guy?

    To reiterate, why is about half the review of this bonds song about boone? Well, I guess that it is your blog and you’ll write what you want to…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s