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

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2 Comments

Filed under 06, 1961

2 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!

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