Friday, April 4, 2008

Gary "US" Bonds, Quarter To Three

The second 45 I'm reviewing has been in my collection for a long time. Gary "US" Bonds'"Quarter To Three" is one of those singles every Springsteen fan should have in his or her box of 45s. The status of "Quarter" as a closer is simply legendary. In the days before "the River" and "Born In The USA" Springsteen simply didn't have enough material himself to aptly close the show with. He needed to rely on the material of others to send the audience in a frenzy. The only thing that came close in his own catalog was "Rosalita" with Max pounding relentlessly on the drums. But even Rosie didn't come close to the sweaty catharsis of that good old fashion high paced R&R. Since Springsteen's early success was much owned to his live reputation I think Springsteen owes a thing or two to Bonds for his career taking of as it did. Even today fans of the early days still rave about the his performance of the song and together with the "Detroit Medley" it stands as his best encore trumps to be played. Springsteen later of course repaid Bonds in full by donating a few of his songs to Gary's comeback albums produced by Little Steven. In fact I think Springsteen is a major factor in Bonds' lasting appeal.

"Quarter To Three" was released in 1961 on Legrand records. One of those many small independent labels that swamped the business in the early days of R&R. Funnily enough these days the early sixties are viewed as a period where R&R was close to dying. All of its major stars had left the field. Elvis was trapped in Hollywood, Chuck Berry was in jail, Little Richard temporarily traded R&R for the pulpit and Buddy Holly had sadly passed on. But on closer inspection the scene was swarming with one hit wonders scoring timeless hits. It was ofcourse also the era of the Phil "Tycoon of Teen" Spector and Roy Orbison. "Quarter To Three" was released in that in between era and hit big. Gary didn't tour on it though, as he later would confess the record company didn't want him to. DJs thought that he was white, which contributed to the cross over success of the single. So Gary didn't take the stage with it till 1963, with the Beatles opening for him in Europe.

Perhaps the funniest detail of the record is the mention of Daddy G. Thanks to mister music I've been unable to uncover the mystery behind this character. Dadd G was the apparently the nick name of one Gene Barge, a well known figure in the music scene of the day as a saxophone player. The Clarence Clemons of early R&R so to speak. The Legrand label had already cut the instrumental "A Night With Daddy G" for the Church Street Five in honor of this illustrious figure . When that song failed to hit Gary simply cut "Quarter" over this instrumental and a hit was born mentioning both the original song and performers in the lyrics. Daddy G. himself delivered the chops on the 45's raucous sax solo. Of course Springsteen's version would prove to have just a little more fervor that Gary's. Something you should not only hear, but see!

"Quarter To Three" - Gary "US" Bonds


Anonymous said...

I'm very intrigued by your comments about Bruce ending his early shows with Quarter To Three. I love the Bond's version, Church Street Five's original and Rosa/Jersey Girl endings by Bruce. I've been unable to figure out from your entry just which Boot version will have the best Quarter To Three show ending.

Which is THE seminal version? Please point me to the one I should download.

If I can post this with my Blogger account (been a problem lately), maybe you can send me the link? Otherwise, I'll be checking back to these comments.

Thanks in advance.

SoulBoogieAlex said...

The best version is in sound and vision. Just freely floating around on the net, don't you just love this place!