SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #179 : THE KLF

Bill Drummond was/is part of The KLF. And that’s justifiable enough in my book for this posting.

Edited from wiki:-

The KLF (also known as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, The JAMs, the Timelords and other names) were a British electronic band started in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Beginning in 1987, Bill Drummond (alias King Boy D) and Jimmy Cauty (alias Rockman Rock) released hip hop-inspired and sample-heavy records as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, and on one occasion (the British number one hit single “Doctorin’ the Tardis”) as the Timelords. The KLF released a series of international hits on their own KLF Communications record label and became the biggest-selling singles act in the world for 1991

From the outset, they adopted the philosophy espoused by esoteric novel series The Illuminatus! Trilogy, making anarchic situationist manifestations, including the defacement of billboard adverts, the posting of cryptic advertisements in NME magazine and the mainstream press, and unusual performances on Top of the Pops.

On 12 February 1992, the KLF and crust punk group Extreme Noise Terror performed a live version of “3 a.m. Eternal” at the BRIT Awards, the British Phonographic Industry’s annual awards show; a “violently antagonistic performance” in front of “a stunned music-business audience”. Drummond and Cauty had planned to throw buckets of sheep’s blood over the audience, but were prevented from doing so due to opposition from BBC lawyers and Extreme Noise Terror. The performance was instead ended by a limping, kilted, cigar-chomping Drummond firing blanks from an automatic weapon over the heads of the crowd. As the band left the stage, the KLF’s promoter and narrator Scott Piering proclaimed over the PA system that “The KLF have now left the music business”. Later in the evening the band dumped a dead sheep with the message “I died for you – bon appetit” tied around its waist at the entrance to one of the post-ceremony parties.

Scott Piering’s announcement was largely ignored at the time. NME, for example, assured their readers that the tensions and contradictions would continue to “push and spark” the KLF and that more “musical treasure” would be the result.

In the weeks following the BRITs performance, the KLF continued working with Extreme Noise Terror on the album The Black Room,  but it was never finished. On 14 May 1992, the KLF announced their immediate retirement from the music industry and the deletion of their back catalogue:

We have been following a wild and wounded, glum and glorious, shit but shining path these past five years. The last two of which has [sic] led us up onto the commercial high ground — we are at a point where the path is about to take a sharp turn from these sunny uplands down into a netherworld of we know not what. For the foreseeable future there will be no further record releases from The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, The Timelords, The KLF and any other past, present and future name attached to our activities. As of now all our past releases are deleted …. If we meet further along be prepared … our disguise may be complete.

In a comprehensive examination of the KLF’s announcement and its context, Select called it “the last grand gesture, the most heroic act of public self destruction in the history of pop. And it’s also Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty’s final extravagant howl of self disgust, defiance and contempt for a music world gone foul and corrupt.”

Many of the KLF’s friends and collaborators gave their reactions in the magazine. Movie director Bill Butt said that “Like everything, they’re dealing with it in a very realistic way, a fresh, unbitter way, which is very often not the case. A lot of bands disappear with such a terrible loss of dignity”. Scott Piering said that “They’ve got a huge buzz off this, that’s for sure, because it’s something that’s finally thrilling. It’s scary to have thrown away a fortune which I know they have. Just the idea of starting over is exciting. Starting over on what? Well, they have such great ideas, like buying submarines”. Even Kenny Gates, who as a director of the KLF’s distributors APT stood to lose financially from the move, called it “Conceptually and philosophically … absolutely brilliant”. Mark Stent reported the doubts of many when he said that “I [have] had so many people who I know, heads of record companies, A&R men saying, ‘Come on, It’s a big scam.’ But I firmly believe it’s over”. “For the very last spectacularly insane time”, the magazine concluded, “The KLF have done what was least expected of them”.

There have been numerous suggestions that in 1992 Drummond was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Drummond himself said that he was on the edge of the “abyss”. BRIT Awards organiser Jonathan King had publicly endorsed the KLF’s live performance, a response which Scott Piering cited as “the real low point”. The KLF’s BRITs statuette for “Best British Group” of 1992 was later found buried in a field near Stonehenge.

mp3 : The KLF vs Extreme Noise Terror – 3 A.M. Eternal

Yet another that I’m unlikely to air at the football on a Saturday afternoon or at a Simply Thrilled evening.

JC

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