The most frequently asked questions regarding The KLF. This is where you should start reading about the work of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty to explore the History of the JAMS.
From when they first paired up in 1987, to when the KLF split in 1992 (and even beyond), Drummond and Cauty progressed through many varying musical styles in their commercial releases.
There are never ending discussions about how good or bad a certain phase of their history was. You should be aware that Drummond and Cauty had very short attention spans and changed musical direction more often than other bands changed their underwear. You don’t have to like everything they’ve done, but have an open mind and remember the context of the time they produced those songs.
Here’s a short guide to the various incarnations:
1987-1988 as The JAMs
Punk ethic, political Scottish rap, blatant cut-n-paste sampling, primitive hip-hop, but they gradually got better at it with their second LP. Huge influence on Pop Will Eat Itself.
1987-1989 as Disco 2000
Started as a Cauty solo project. Cheesy pop. Resembled later JAMs singles like Burn The Bastards, while influencing the later following pre-Stadium House KLF records.
1988 as The Timelords
An exercise in nauseating novelty, charting a number one house record Doctorin’ the Tardis and explaining how they did it in The Manual. Huge influence on Edelweiss who in fact got a Number One hit by following the Golden Rules.
1988-1990 as The KLF
Twin styles of acid trance house and ambient soundscapes, very difficult to find the records, but check out the Chill Out album, which is still in print in the USA. The rave stuff was an influence on Black Box, and other Italians, while the ambient stuff practically started the whole 90’s ambient scene along with The Orb.
They also recorded various songs for their soundtrack of the “White Room” movie but never released them in their original form. Trying to mimic the style of the Pet Shop Boys around that time with their single Kylie Said To Jason.
1990-1992 as The KLF
Their early singles and huge parts of the White Room soundtrack were remixed and re-remixed and re-re-re-remixed into the Stadium House pop permutations you have probably heard on the radio. Influence on Blue Pearl, Utah Saints, Nomad etc.
1990-1991 as The JAMS
While gaining success with their KLF releases, they teamed up once more as the JAMS and released a remixed version of their previous promo It’s Grim Up North, a first glimpse of the always-scheduled-and-delayed Black Room album. Dark electronic.
1992 as The KLF
They started working on thrash guitar heavy-metal techno dance together with Extreme Noise Terror but scrapped most of the sessions. Could this have been yet another new musical style? Possible influence on God Machine and Kerosene (who both did a KLF cover).
1993-1995 as K Foundation
Like all good post-modernists they are branching out into interdisciplinary arts, releasing their only single K Cera Cera, a limited release in Israel/Palestine to celebrate the peace accord. A mix of orchestral sound and Russian choir.
1995 as One World Orchestra
They sneaked out of retirement for one day to record a hastily constructed orchestral/drum’n’bass track for the much hyped “Help! (Artists for War Child)” LP.
1997 as 2K
Celebrating the 10th birthday of The JAMS, they released Fuck The Millennium as a statement against the more and more growing Y2K frenzy and, according to Drummond, “to celebrate the crapness of comebacks”. Somewhere between early 90’s acid-pop, Chemical Brothers-style big beat and a 40-piece brass band.
2017 as The JAMs
In 2017 The JAMs came out of retirement once more to announce the release of 2023, as well as their foray into cremation and pyramid building.
Differences between international releases. the recording of Chill Out and the other sound of Mu, covering the early Brilliant releases as well as the K Foundation and the One World Orchestra.
Bootlegs of rare KLF releases have been released aplenty over the time. While some of them can be easily spotted, others are hard to distinguish from the original issues.
What does […] sound like?
Some of the more rare and obscure tracks and projects can be hard to track down, so these should give you an idea of what to expect.
Other Creative Exploits
The never ending list of things, events and projects from, around, before and after The KLF – from the never finished White Room Motion Picture to the infamous burning of a million pounds on the Isle of Jura.
Other Creative Exploits
Yes, when he was seventeen in the early seventies. It’s rather well-done in a stylistic, gothic-y-looking way. “It’s quite funny actually – the border is made up of Orcs climbing on top of each other up the sides, and crawling along the top and bottom. For the Tolkienesque out there, it features Gandalf with the Red Ring shining and Glamdring to hip, with Samwise and Frodo hobbits, and also three portraits of Legolas the Elf, Gimli the Dwarf and Gollum the gollum.” When Pete Robinson asked Cauty about it, he mentioned that ‘it was mainly student nurses who bought it’. It is signed J. Cauty at the bottom. This is one of Athena’s best-selling posters, and rumour has it that they came to pick it up in a helicopter. The publishing information from the back of the poster:
2931 Lord of the Rings/ Artist: J.Cauty. illustration based on the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien (c) George Allen & UNWIN (PUBLISHERS) LTD. 1954, 1966 (c) 1988 Wizard & Genius-Idealdecor 8618 OETWIL AM SEE/ZURICH Switzerland.
(this information is taken from the old FAQ – note that the original poster says (c) 1976 – Ed.)
Interestingly, the Walt Disney company used an image for one of their own comic books about Donald Duck experiencing the LOTR story, which is highly inspired by Jimmy’s poster.
For more details and a high quality scan see Athena Posters.
The Partnership of “Rockman and Lx” was producing great results, not only with their own work, but elsewhere – the ´Blue Danube Orbital mix´ of the KLF´s 3 a.m. Eternal and the promo-only remixes of ´Money´ by Fischerman´s Friends, for example. But, according to Alex, some of those mixes came out in Germany credited as KLF remixes.
It led to a lot of confusion, though the only real confusion is knowing who were the members of the Orb at the time the record was released.
In fact it was a row over this very question, of linking the KLF with the Orb, that fractured the original Patterson/Cauty pairing. Alex Patterson remembers that “the Sun Electric project (O’locco) was recorded at Trancentral, and Jimmy didn’t want to be known on the record as Jimmy Cauty so we called him Gavin Cauty. That was how ridiculous the whole scenario was becoming.”
Consequently, details of the Orb’s activities around this time are a little sketchy. But we do know that an Orb album was recorded by Alex and Jimmy early in 1990, and that Alex departed in April 1990, taking the group name with him.
Space was then released on KLF Communications, attributed simply to Space, and with only Jimmy credited by name. The split was decided acrimonious. Jimmy and Bill were keen that the Orb should join them on KLF Communications, but Alex felt that it was unfair, as “I felt the Orb was myself, with Jimmy working with me”. Jimmy already had the KLF and it appeared that that he wanted the Orb as well (Alex is at pains to stress that the argument is long forgotten, as he and Jimmy have since completely made up.)
The official KLF press release accompanying “Space” claimed that it was originally intended as the Orb’s debut album, but was now simply Jimmy’s own creation, as he’d removed all of Alex’s contributions. Alex accepts this: “Space was done solely by Jimmy. At the end of the day, he took out all of my ideas and replaced them, or just left them as empty spaces.” Alex has got the original version of Space, but as far as he is concerned, there’s no need for that to ever see the light of day. Others claimed that there has nothing been removed and that Alex simply isn’t credited at all.
To replace the dilapidated Ford Timelord Jimmy purchased two Saracen armoured vehicles at a scrap yard for ukp 4,000 and found equipment in them which he thought could have been used for sonic warfare. He has tried to assemble the acoustic gun from information he found on the Internet. Installing huge amplifiers and special speakers to cope with the very low frequencies cost him “tens of thousands of pounds”.
The 25,000-watt sonic gun can project sound for around 7 miles, and Jimmy annoyed his Devon neighbours by testing it on Midsummer’s Day, 1996. Jimmy said: “I moved to Devon six months ago for a bit of a rest and this is a project I am taking an interest in. I do not see it as music or art.” He said that he aimed the gun away from homes and it seemed to have no effect on sheep.
He was testing his two Audio Weapon Systems in a field near his new home. ‘He alerted people to the fact that he was doing this by setting off some military flares. Then he tested his Audio Weapons System for an hour for a very select group of scientists and friends. The Audio Weapons System is not designed to kill people.[Melody Maker]
Cauty first tested it at a Wire gig on Hungerford Bridge in May. In January, Panasonic [the “Finnish conceptual techno nutters”-NME] borrowed one of the Audio Weapons Systems for tests on how sonic waves affect the human body at Brick Lane in London. A fax from ‘Mr. Smith, the Head Of Commercial Exploitation at Advanced Acoustic Armaments’, was sent to The Maker. It read: “The test took place to establish the parameters of the new vehicle solo and in tandem with its sister model, SS 9000K+L. The test featured new software generated for our latest commercial client, EXP LTD, and is described by Mr. Cauty as featuring ‘the ultimate battle between sound and commerce ending in the death of all musicians and their ascension to rock-n-roll heaven or hell as befits them.’ Yesterday we received communication with ex- Government employees who, in the Sixties, worked on audio weapon development with an offer of help and some ex-classified equipment. We regret any such death or damage that has resulted from our tests, but there are casualties in every war. The Triple A Formation Attack Ensemble will perform ‘Foghorns Of The Northern Hemisphere’ as part of an educational programme supporting our research shortly.
Most of this is probably scam, but Cauty has (very allegedly) recorded an album of sonic waves for Paul Smith’s Blast First label under the name AAA. The album is in the hands of lawyers who are trying to clear some of the samples used on it, and remains unreleased until now. It appears to be a Cauty solo project.
More recently, Jimmy teamed up with new Asian-techno group, Black Star Liner for a happening in a field on Dartmoor [this is the EXP reference above]. Jimmy chartered a ‘chopper to take BSL and assorted journos out to Dartmoor, where he intended to remix the Halaal Rock track in his tank. Apparently, BSL bumped into Cauty on London’s South Bank, while he was driving about in his tank, he got hold of their album, and said that he wanted to work with them. Anyway, the chopper was grounded by severe fog, so everyone was put on a convey of buses. All the journos were given orange jackets to wear. They eventually arrived at a field full of military vehicles, and people in yellow jackets, wearing goggles and ears protectors, doing some form of formation dancing. The journos were lead to their seats, and had large floodlights shone into their eyes, while the yellow jackets let of flares all around them. There were a load of goats skulls on sticks around the field, and a whole pile of fireworks let of towards the end of the mix, when Cauty was mixing in some Jimi Hendrix. However, this didn’t really go down well with BSL. For the record, Choque (leader of BSL) said in the NME “Cauty’s truck is a bag of complete shite. And he’s a f—ing misery guts”
Then in November 1996, Jimmy turned up at the A30 road protests in Honiton, Devon, to lend his support. The A30 Action press release read:
“A30 Action and A.A.A.(Formerly the K Foundation, formerly the K.L.F.)
As of 2300 hrs 19.10.96 the armoured division of the A.A.A. Formation Attack Ensemble established a front line defensive position at the Trollheim Hill Fort, Fairmile, Devon, in collaboration with A30 Action in defence of the threatened trees, badgers and some insects. At dawn on 21.10.96, the Triple A will activate their S.Q.U.A.W.K. 9000 sonic device in response to any offensive action taken on behalf of the Connect consortium. The @utonomous communities of Fairmile, Trollheim and Allercombe have resisted the soul destroying consumer nightmare of the private profit A30 through a 2 year campaign of Non-Violent Direct Action. Now armed with the 2 Saracen armoured personnel carriers both loaded with 15 Kilowatt Soundsystems and weighing over 10 tons they intend to dance in the face of the legions of destruction.”
Shortly after Jimmy began blasting local Devon residents with Puff the Magic Dragon at the protest against the A30 road-building, an article appeared in the Big Issue (mag by and for the UK homeless), by self-styled “art terrorist” Stuart Home describing how he was kidnapped and shown an arsenal of weapons at Jimmy’s house.
The article was a spoof, but the UK security services took it seriously and put Jimmmy’s house under surveillance for several days before finally 30 police with sniffer dogs turned up and searched the place from top to bottom. They found nothing, except the two Saracens which were both properly taxed and insured. Jimmy was released without charge. He said “I suppose if you take two tanks to a road protest you’ve got to expect the authorities to get involved.” Finally, the two Saracens were towed from the road protest with Jimmy’s consent, (but not cooperation). A few weeks later he took them back.
From T-Shirts to Books, from Promo Videos to home-made DVDs – there have been many non-CD releases and collectibles during all those years. Read more about them and find out wether they are still available.
Questions that didn’t fit into any other category so we had to create one for them.