The label says it’s The KLF but to all intent and purposes it really is a release from The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu ; the packaging and labelling are the same as their three previous singles and the biggest clue can be seen from a few words that were printed on the label – ‘THIS IS A TRANSITION RECORD’. There’s also the fact that the record, prior to it being issued as a single it had been a track on the LP Who Killed The JAMMs released in February 1988.
There’s no doubt that the wholly uptempo nature of the tune is in keeping with that much later KLF material which brought fame and fortune, not to mention infamy after the burning of £1,000,000. But at the time, it was simply a way of drawing the ‘career’ of the JAMMs to an end and the next thing that Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty would go and do is record and release a novelty single as The Timelords that became a surprise #1 hit.
The subject matter of Burn The Bastards is the debut JAMMs LP 1987 (What the Fuck Is Going On?) which had been produced using extensive unauthorised samples in a very crude and elementary way – eventually a complaint from ABBA about the use of Dancing Queen led to an order from the bosses in the music industry for all remaining copies of the album to be firstly withdrawn and then destroyed. Drummond and Cauty took legal advice but were told it would cost a minimum of £20,000 to defend in court and they had little chance of winning.
They complied but in ways that were often unorthodox such as throwing them into the sea off the coast of Sweden after a well-publicised but totally futile attempt to have ABBA’s management change their minds. The records overboard event had come after they had illegally gone into a farmer’s field outside of Stockholm and set fire to copies of the record – only to be forcibly removed with the threat of arrest by the police (it’s even been suggested they were chased out of the field by the farmer brandishing a shotgun). An image of the bonfire was used on the sleeve of the second LP.
Making great use of Dance to The Music by Sly and the Family Stone (along with a cheeky wee swipe of Bad by Michael Jackson), this single is an absolute hoot and infectiously danceable. If Bill’s rough Scottish brogue is too much for you, then get yourself moving to the instrumental b-side:-
The single vanished without a trace.