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"3 a.m. Eternal" is a song by the British acid house group The KLF. Numerous versions of the song were released as singles between 1989 and 1992. In January 1991, an acid house pop version of the song became an international top ten hit single, reaching number-one on the UK Singles Chart and number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and leading to The KLF becoming the internationally biggest-selling singles band of 1991.[1][2] When, the following year, The KLF accepted an invitation to perform at the 1992 BRIT Awards ceremony, they caused controversy with a succession of anti-establishment gestures that included a duet performance of "3 a.m. Eternal" with the crust punk band Extreme Noise Terror, during which The KLF co-founder Bill Drummond fired machine-gun blanks over the audience of music industry luminaries. A studio-produced version of this song was issued as a limited edition mail order 7" single, the final release by The KLF and their independent record label, KLF Communications.

"3 a.m. Eternal"
The KLF- 3 a.m. Eternal (pure trance original).jpg
Pure Trance Original (005T) cover
Single by The KLF
from the album The White Room
ReleasedMay 1989 (Pure Trance 2)
7 January 1991 (Live at the S.S.L.)
January 1992 (The KLF vs ENT version)
Format12" (Pure Trance Original)
Cassette, 7", 12" and CD (Live at the S.S.L.)
7" (The KLF vs ENT version)
Length5:55 (Pure Trance Original)
5:50 (Live at the S.S.L.)
2:43 (The KLF vs ENT version)
LabelKLF Communications (UK)
Songwriter(s)Jimmy Cauty, Bill Drummond
The song features Maxine Harvey on vocals
Drummond & Cauty singles chronology
"What Time Is Love? (Pure Trance)"
"3 a.m. Eternal (Pure Trance)"
"Kylie Said to Jason"

"What Time Is Love? (Live at Trancentral)"

"3 a.m. Eternal (Live at the S.S.L.)"

"Last Train to Trancentral (Live from the Lost Continent)"

"Justified and Ancient (Stand by The JAMs)"

"3 a.m. Eternal (The KLF vs ENT version)"

"K Cera Cera"
Alternative cover
"Live at the S.S.L." cover
"Live at the S.S.L." cover


The original 1989 12" single release constituted the second of The KLF's "Pure Trance" series. There were two issues, numbered 005T (pink writing on a black sleeve, with two KLF mixes) and 005R (black writing on a pink sleeve, with four more mixes, including remixes by The Orb and The Moody Boys).

Stadium House versionEdit

A version heavily reworked for a mainstream audience, "3 a.m. Eternal (Live at the S.S.L.)", was issued in January 1991 and reached number one on the UK singles chart and number five on the US Billboard Hot 100. This version had a rap by Ricardo da Force. Although a lot of crowd noise appears on the mix, it is in fact a purely studio-based creation. The "S.S.L." in the subtitle refers to a Solid State Logic mixing desk. The seven inch version of this mix appears on the album The White Room. The main B-side was a dub-based version of the same song, "3 a.m. Eternal (Guns of Mu Mu)", featuring the bassline from The Clash's "Guns of Brixton". Concurrent with the chart-topping version, yet another 12" was released, with resolutely underground remixes by The Moody Boys.

Critical receptionEdit

The Gavin Report wrote about the song: "Production wizardry from these techno-talents earns three stars for a highly original effort. A #1 track in their native England, it's won over audiences throughout Europe and stands to do the same in North America. Strengthened by a video that is nothing short of exceptional, it's getting major exposure on MTV with five plays a day in "Buzz Bin" rotation."[3]

Music videoEdit

There are two video versions for the SSL video. The American version includes an opening with a travel through the mythical "Land of Mu Mu" where the KLF are performing inside a pyramid scenery with singers in a stadium. The European version shows the KLF vehicle (the police cruiser used in their Timelords incarnation) voyage around London with rapper Ricardo da Force singing in the backseat and a rave showing in the background.

The KLF vs Extreme Noise TerrorEdit

In 1992, The KLF released a limited edition mail order only single containing a new version of "3 a.m." featuring the grindcore/crust punk band Extreme Noise Terror. The two bands also performed a live version of the song at that year's BRIT Awards ceremony. The Brits performance included a limping, kilted, cigar-chomping Drummond firing blanks from an automatic weapon over the heads of the crowd. After viewing the rehearsals, the NME writer Danny Kelly said: "Compared to what's preceded it, this is a turbo-powered metallic wolf breaking into a coop full of particularly sick doves... And the noise? Well, the noise is hardcore punk thrash through a disco Techno hit played by crusties. All bases covered, brilliantly. Clever, clever bastards."[4] At the end of the performance, Scott Piering announced to a stunned crowd that "The KLF have now left the music business". Within a few months, they did just that - their records were deleted and The KLF retired from the industry.

Danny Kelly later described the Brits performance as The KLF's "self-destruction in an orgy of punk rock..., mock outrage ... and real bad taste".[5]


The "Pure Trance Original" was described by Record Mirror as a "euro-flavoured deep house pulser" with atmospheric chanting and a "cathedral-like resonance".[6] In a January 1991 feature on The KLF, NME writer Roger Morton described the "Pure Trance Original" as a "classic club track" and the "Live at the S.S.L." version as "murderously powerful".[7] As Record Mirror 's "Single of the Week", the "Live at the S.S.L." version was regarded as "a magnificent pulsating beast combining bleeps and body heat".[8] Appraising the track retrospectively in 2000, The Guardian referred to the "Live at the S.S.L." version as an "epic pop masterpiece".[9]

References and usage in popular cultureEdit

In 2012, the British disco-pop group Saint Etienne made reference to the song in the lyrics of "Popular" on their Words And Music album, a song themed on getting number one single titles into conversation.

Formats and track listingsEdit

"3 a.m. Eternal (Pure Trance Original)" was aired as a UK 12" single in May 1989. "3 a.m. Eternal (Live from the S.S.L.)" was given an international release as a single on 7 January 1991. A single of remixes by The Moody Boys was given a limited release a week later. In January 1992, a one-sided 7" single of The KLF's collaboration with Extreme Noise Terror was released via mail order only, from a limited pressing of 1000 copies.[10][11]

Format (and countries) Track number
1 2 3 4
Pure Trance Original
12" (KLF Communications KLF 005T) P B
12" (KLF Communications KLF 005R) b O M E
Live at the S.S.L.
7" single, cassette single l g
12" single (US) L G K W
12" single (elsewhere) L G
CD single (Japan) l G B W
CD single (elsewhere) l G B
KLF Present the Moody Boys Selection
12" single, CD single W R K
The KLF vs ENT version
7" single (limited edition of 1000 copies) T


P - "3 a.m. Eternal (Pure Trance Original)" (5:55) g - "3 a.m. Eternal (Guns of Mu Mu)" (edit) (3:30)
B - "3 a.m. Eternal (Break for Love)" (5:39) G - "3 a.m. Eternal (Guns of Mu Mu)" (5:20)
p - "3 a.m. Eternal (Pure Trance Original)" (edit) (3:38) W - "3 a.m. Eternal (Wayward Dub Version)" (6:54)
O - "3 a.m. Eternal (Blue Danube Orbital)" (7:35) R - "3 a.m. Eternal (Rankin' Club Version)" (4:34)
M - "3 a.m. Eternal (Moody Boy)" (6:50) K - "3 a.m. Eternal (Klonk Blip Every Trip)"[12] (5:48)
E - "3 p.m. Electro" (5:58) T - "3 a.m. Eternal (The KLF vs Extreme Noise Terror: TOTP version)" (2:43)
l - "3 a.m. Eternal (Live at the S.S.L.)" (edit) (3:42)
L - "3 a.m. Eternal (Live at the S.S.L.)" (5:50)



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[38] Silver 200,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ "Allmusic:The KLF (Artist Biography by John Bush)". Allmusic. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  2. ^ "The KLF - the Band". BBC. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  3. ^ Sholin, Dave (31 May 1991). "Gavin Picks > Singles" (PDF). Gavin Report. No. 1858. p. 60. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  4. ^ Kelly, D. "Welcome To The Sheep Seats", New Musical Express, 29 February 1992 (link)
  5. ^ Kelly, D., "Million Dollar Bash", Q, February 1994 (link).
  6. ^ Review of "3 a.m. Eternal (Pure Trance Original)", Record Mirror, 16 September 1989.
  7. ^ Morton, R. "One Coronation Under A Groove", New Musical Express, 12 January 1991 ([1])
  8. ^ Review of "3 a.m. Eternal (Live at the S.S.L.)", Record Mirror, 12 January 1991.
  9. ^ Poole, S., Review of Bill Drummond's book 45, The Guardian, 26 February 2000 (link).
  10. ^ Review of "3 a.m. Eternal (The KLF vs Extreme Noise Terror)", New Musical Express, 11 January 1992.
  11. ^ Longmire, Ernie et al. (2005). KLF discography Archived 2008-01-11 at the Wayback Machine Compiled by Ernie Longmire, this has been the authoritative KLF discography on the internet for some 10 years or more and has been the subject of long-term scrutiny and peer review by KLF fans and collectors. It was also maintained by the fan site which is currently[when?] offline.
  12. ^ The title "Klonk Blip Every Trip" is a corruption of the British road safety public information film slogan "Clunk Click Every Trip".
  13. ^ " – The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  14. ^ " – The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  15. ^ " – The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  16. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 1636." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Top RPM Dance/Urban: Issue 1638." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Top 10 Denmark" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  19. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  20. ^ " – The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  21. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 11, 1991" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  22. ^ " – The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  23. ^ " – The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal". VG-lista.
  24. ^ " – The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal". Top 40 Singles.
  25. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  26. ^ " – The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal". Singles Top 100.
  27. ^ " – The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal". Swiss Singles Chart.
  28. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  29. ^ "The KLF Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  30. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 147.
  31. ^ "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Top 50 Singles 1991". ARIA. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  32. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1991" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  33. ^ "RPM Dance Tracks of 1991". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  34. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1991" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  35. ^ "End of Year Charts 1991". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  36. ^ "Swiss Year-End Charts 1991" (in German). Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  37. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1991". Archived from the original on 2009-07-07. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  38. ^ "British single certifications – KLF – 3Am Eternal". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type 3Am Eternal in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.