3 a.m. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L.)

Released in early January 1991, 3 a.m. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L.) was The KLF’s second #1 single after Doctorin’ The Tardis.

We always work with titles. [3AM Eternal] just seemed like the right answer to ‘What Time’.The KLF (Rage, 8 Jan 1991)

Like What Time Is Love? before it 3 a.m. Eternal is an updated and heavily remixed version of its Pure Trance predecessor.

Everybody’s saying ‘Oh God, can’t you write any new stuff?’ But we’re just saying that ‘3am …’ was an advance DJ copy and this was always the mix it was supposed to be.Jimmy Cauty (Record Mirror, 12 Jan 1991)
Besides, nothing is ever finished. It’s all work in progress. We’ll probably be producing remixes of [WTIL and 3AM] until they cart us off to an asylum.The KLF (Rage, 8 Jan 1991)

The KLF decided to keep large chunks of the bits sung by Maxine Harvey as well as the “Eternaaal” chants from the original but ditched Bill’s spoken bits in favour of newly recorded rap vocals. With Azat Bello not available at the time of recording these were provided by Ricardo “Da Force” Lyte instead who went on doing more vocals on The KLF’s The White Room album as well.

The single’s iconic “This Is Radio Freedom” machine-gun style opening was sampled from the actual Radio Freedom‘s station ID and was edited out on the “Radio Freedom Edit” (see KLF 005S below) later to comply with Radio 1 guidelines over the Gulf War.

Promotion & Advertising

Adverts for the single started to appear in Record Mirror and the NME in early January. Other than the record’s release date they did not give away any further information as usual.

Advert for “3 a.m. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L.)” by The KLF (NME, 5 Jan 1991)

While the chart success of What Time Is Love? might have taken international distributors by surprise the hype machine had finally shifted into gear with the follow-up single, and promotional copies & sheets started to appear in other countries as well, including German distributors Intercord…

German Intercord promo sheet for “3 a.m. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L.)” (Jan 1991)

… or Arista in the United States.

American Arista promo sheet for “3 a.m. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L.)” (1991)

Reviews

For all the allegations that Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty are wantonly zany, the fact remains that his record – like the previous one – is a magnificent, pulsating beast combining bleeps with body-heat, and swirly sounds with the soulful tones of Maxine Harvey.
Record Mirror, 12 Jan 1991 (Single Of The Week)
They’re now possibly better known for lighting expensive fires and their art/media terrorism, but when the KLF unleashed this spookily euphoric mix of chants, sax and dance fury they helped coin the phrase ‘stadium techno’. Like the Sex Pistols before them, The KLF digested the feeling of the underground and spewed it into the pop charts.
Mixmag, Nov 2001 (#34 in '100 Best Tunes Ever')

Tracks & Formats

KLF 005

7″ Single / 7 Jan 1991
A 3 a.m. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L. – Radio) 3:42
B 3 a.m. Eternal (Guns Of Mu Mu – Edit) 3:30

KLF 005C

Cassette Single / 7 Jan 1991
A1 3 a.m. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L. – Radio) 3:42
A2 3 a.m. Eternal (Guns Of Mu Mu – Edit) 3:30

Tracks are repeated on B side.


KLF 005X

12″ Single / 7 Jan 1991
A 3 a.m. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L.) 5:50
B 3 a.m Eternal (Guns Of Mu Mu) 5:09

KLF 005CD

CD Single / 7 Jan 1991
1 3 a.m Eternal (Live At The S.S.L. – Radio) 3:42
2 3 a.m. Eternal (Guns Of Mu Mu) 5:25
3 3 a.m. Eternal (1989 Break For Love Mix) 5:44

KLF 005S

7″WL Promo Single / Jan 1991
A 3 a.m. Eternal (Radio Freedom Edit) 2:56

The Radio Freedom Edit is similar to the “Live At The S.S.L – Radio” version with the alleged machine-gun sounds cut, starting with the very first bass drum and P.P. Arnold’s “KLF, u-hu u-hu…” instead. For reasons unknown it also lacks the second half of the breakdown.

A similar version later appeared on the US promo CD though with the full breakdown again. Both variants fade out on Arnold’s final “KLF…” chant and before Scott Piering’s “Ladies And Gentlemen…” announcement.

Whilst the version on the 7″ promo does not have a distinct name – a sticker on the sleeve only stating ‘machine gun intro edited out’ – both are usually referred to as the “Radio Freedom Edit” even though only the latter is actually labelled as such. This is most probably due to the similar openings of both versions, leading to fans retroactively attributing the mix title from that release to the version on KLF 005S as well.


ADP-2265

12″WL Promo Single / 15 Aug 1991
A 3 a.m. Eternal (US Promo Mix) 5:42

Exclusively released in the US as a limited pressing of (reportedly) around 120 copies, this 12″ by Arista includes an alternate version of the “Live At The S.S.L.” mix featuring a radically different intro. Starting with Scott Piering announcing “Ladies and Gentlemen… please welcome, live on stage, The K-L-F!” the track itself opens on a drawn-out intro and some otherwise unheard vocal bits by Ricardo Lyte before it segues into what is pretty much the standard version.

13 thoughts on “3 a.m. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L.)

  1. I’m sure KLF 005S doesn’t have the “Radio Freedom Edit” from American promo CDs (on another note, it misses out on the “Ladies and gentlemen….” line and maybe a bit of the non-“Radio Freedom gun sample” part of the intro).
    The “MACHINE GUN INTRO EDITED OUT” sticker on the cover says it goes for 2:56, which may mean a different edit (without applause?) is on there.

    1. If somebody owning a copy of 005S is willing to clock the actual time we can gladly update both this and the original entry in Lazlo’s discography. While Discogs also lists the shorter running time chances are somebody just put in what’s printed on the sticker rather than checking for themselves.

      1. The results are in, and it seems the sticker is indeed somewhat accurate (give or take a couple of seconds depending on how nitpicking one might be). The outro reportedly does not fade out as quickly as expected, though.

        There’s a surprising amount of inconsistencies in the old discography (from which most of the info has been lifted) but that doesn’t mean we cannot fix it. 😀

        1. What do you mean by “The outro reportedly does not fade out as quickly as expected, though.”? Is the entire “applause/Ladies and gentlemen…” outro removed or what? I’d be interested if you could send me over the KLF 005S edit via email…

          1. We cannot check ourselves but people in posession of 005S tell it fades out before the end of the song. Not sure why that is, though – the running time of the longer US Radio Freedom version would still keep the track below the magic 3:30 minute mark.

  2. Now that you’ve added info about the US Radio Freedom Edit you should change the length back to 3:12 for the UK radio promo release. The US commercial 12″ featured the regular A and B sides on side 1 (12″ versions) and the other Moody Boys remixes (the ones that are not the Rankin Club Mix) on the B side.

    1. Will have to check again to be 100% sure but as far as I remember 005S is slightly shorter than what was released as “Radio Freedom” edit on the US promo due to the earlier fade-out.

      Adding further details about more non-KLF Comms releases goes against our self-imposed rule of not overbloating the individual release pages. The notice about the US promo CD only got added since we came across the accompanying press sheet, though if somebody could find a promo sheet for AD-2231 we would probably add that one, too. 😉

      The exclusive US promo mix on this release should totally be added to the tracklists section, though.

  3. Having finally listened to the 7″ version, I can confirm that the possibilities of a 2:56 Radio Freedom Edit are unlikely as the audience doesn’t come until the 3:03 mark in the US version. Currently I’m going for either the 3:13 US version or an straight 3:25 edit without the first 8 seconds.

    In Australia, the 7″ version apparently always played in full on the radio, including the “This is Radio Freedom *gunshots*” part that cuts off to the song’s “proper” intro.

    1. Like stated above, the version on KLF005S fades out before the last kick drum. (no, it doesn’t – see below)

      Our best guess it that they are usually both refered to as “Radio Freedom Version” because they both similarily lack the intro.

      1. Ok, so this was an assumption made on somebody confirming the running time but not having a recording of the single ourselves. Now that we do here’s the final verdict.

        A) The version officially labeled as “Radio Freedom Edit” from the US promo CD is 3:16 and fades out on P.P. Arnold’s final “KLF…” and therefore lacks the Scott Piering announcement.

        B) The version on KLF 005S is indeed 2:56 only, but rather than fading out even earlier it is actually missing the second half of the breakdown which means it’s identical to the opening bit.

        Also see this image for further explanation.

        Sorry for the confusion, but that should finally wrap that up. 🙂 It’s still safe to assume that the mix title was retroactively attributed to KLF 005S due to both versions having an identical opening.

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