Questions that didn’t fit into any other category so we had to create one for them.
On their first LP, ‘1987: What The Fuck Is Going On?’ the stand out track is ‘The Queen And I’ – a derogatory, political rap about the state of democracy in the UK, which samples large parts of Abba’s Dancing Queen, (i.e. the whole chorus) and accompanies this with cheeky baby ‘wah wah’ noises. The whole thing is very punky, crude and hilariously funny. And Abba not surprisingly didn’t like it. The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society got in touch with the JAMs and ordered the masters and all copies destroyed, and all copies in the shops recalled. To avoid a court case the JAMs decided to comply with this but first they would try to meet Abba and convince them of the sincerity of their actions. Of course you could be cynical and say that the trip to Sweden was a publicity exercise pure and simple as they took an NME journalist and photographer along with them in Jimmy’s Galaxy V8 Ford police car, but the truth probably lies somewhere between that and a romantic road trip ideal that the JAMs have and an unthinking ‘lets do it’ attitude.
So the JAMs and their guests took the ferry to Sweden, drove cross-country to Stockholm where they presented a gold disc “in recognition of sales in excess of zero” to a blonde prostitute outside Abba’s studio at 3am (!) in the morning. The photographs of this were supposed to convince the world that this was Agnetha, now fallen on hard times. They obviously failed to get a meeting with Benny and Bjorn (if they even tried) and they set off back to England, stopping in a Swedish field to build a fire out of the unsold copies of 1987, a scene which is captured on the cover of ‘Who Killed The JAMs’ and History Of The JAMs’. As they returned to the JAMs-mobile to drive off an irate Swedish farmer appeared, furious at the heap of burning vinyl giving off acrid black smoke in his field, who proceeded to fire a shotgun at the JAMs-mobile as it drove off. Further down the road the unfortunate car broke down perhaps helped by the shotgun, but luckily (and not so romantically) the JAMs had taken out Automobile Association membership before they left and they got towed home. In Justified and Ancient History Pete Robinson states that on the ferry home they played their only live date for a Toblerone bar, and chucked some more copies of the LP into the sea.
The whole story is told in a great NME article, included on the Shag Times CD gatefold insert. At some point during the JAMs excursion to the land of Stigs they were reported to have run over and killed a moose. There’s even some lyrics about it in one of their songs. However, one list member (Chris Leuty) once wrote to the KLF about this (August 1990), cos’ “…I didn’t quite believe it, and got a reply from Jimi. He said, and I quote: “No it was a giant dog”. Write to James Brown c/o NME-he’s got some Polaroid photo’s of the attack.”
A postscript to all this LP destruction is that the KLF took out a full-page ad in The Face magazine, offering to sell the five remaining unplayed copies for 1000 pounds each. In 1988 Info sheet two, King Boy says “we sold 3 of the 5 LP’s … it went some way to paying off our creditors, we gave one away as a prize. We have one left, the price just keeps going up.” This could be the copy oft seen in the back window of their ice-cream van.
In the UK, a Flake 99, (or often just a ’99) is a wafer cone with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a piece of Cadbury’s Flake. Any ice cream van will know what you mean if you ask for a ’99.
The first KLF ice cream connection took place at the Liverpool Festival of comedy when they handed out 99’s from an ice cream van they’d borrowed from it’s owner outside Trancentral. Then came Justified and Ancient with its ice cream references in the lyrics, an ice cream van on the cover, a catalogue number of KLF 099, and promo’s labelled CHOCICE 1 to 3. When they appeared on TOTP Drummond and Cauty were dressed in huge latex 99 costumes designed by Luck and Flaw of the ‘Spitting Image’ TV programme. In promotional campaigns in the US, Arista organised ice cream van stunts too. The KLF used to “pop up” unexpectedly in places, blasting tunes and passing out ice cream, from their ice cream. During an intermission at one of Emo Phillip’s concerts, they drove onstage, blastin’ and passin’ which you could describe as being very typical of the “strange” behaviour of the KLF.
All this lead some fans to wonder if there was a connection to The Ice Cream Men from ‘Rudy Rucker’s cyberpunk novels ‘Software’ & ‘Wetware’. It would seem not as “The Ice Cream Man was a android controlled by one of the main computers on the moon, who was advancing the cause of one of the two factions in a revolution between the little robots and the big robots that was ongoing on the moon. It was also to allow the ‘personalities’ that had been read (by the aforementioned brain-eating) into the computer to operate as if they still had human bodies. (The brain eating took all of the chemically- encoded memories into a processor so that the computer could integrate the personality.) Anyway, the ice-cream man’s van was really a refrigerator for the robot brain that it carried around, I seem to remember. Since the novel took place in the Orlando-Cocoa Beach-Daytona Beach area of Florida, USA and no-one has reported that Bill and Jimmy acted a bit ‘mechanical’ on meeting them, I don’t see that there’s much connection beyond the coincidental. However, they were written back in the late 80’s, so there is a slight possibility of it being influential, but it just doesn’t seem likely to me.”
However, strangely, Info sheet 13 has a list of “questions that we get asked and are unable to answer. So we decided to hold “The Rites Of Mu” to celebrate this year’s summer solstice and in doing so hopefully make the above questions redundant.” One of the questions was ‘Are you the ice cream men?’ But the KLF’s ice cream activities came just after the ‘Rites Of Mu’, where they performed in Liverpool using an ice-cream van they had borrowed from a man in the street outside Trancentral. But why did someone ask if they were the ice cream men, before they had done any ice cream related activity?
Sheep have been associated with the KLF throughout their career. There were sheep noises on the ambient version of ‘Last Train To Trancentral’, and on ‘Chill Out’, where sheep also appear on the cover and merchandise insert. Its rumoured that some sheep appeared on stage at one of the club PA’s they did in 89-90. There are many publicity shots of the KLF standing with sheep, and sheep appear in ‘Waiting’. Sheep are mentioned in the “It’s Grim Up North” sleeve essay and when they showed The White Room film in Germany, several sheep were guests of honour. Then there was the notorious dead sheep incident at the BRITs.
But ‘Why Sheep?’ This incidentally is one of the “questions that we get asked and are unable to answer.” It is also printed under a picture of them holding a sheep on the “White Room” CD insert.
Its to his credit that list co-ordinator Lazlo Nibble is one of the only people to interview Drummond who has got an answer on this. The full X Magazine interview is in the ftp archive. Bill Drummond said: “The sleeve is a very very English thing. The Pink Floyd album ATOM HEART MOTHER, do you know that album? The sleeve with the cow’s head on it? That’s a very English thing and it has the vibe of the rave scene over here. When we’re having the big Orbital raves out in the country, and you’re dancing all night and then the sun would come up in the morning, and then you’d be surrounded by this English rural countryside … so we wanted something that kind of reflected that, that feeling the day after the rave, that’s what we wanted the music for. So when we went to the photo-library, we had a copy of ATOM HEART MOTHER under our arms, and we went in: ‘Okay, we want a picture of sheep, like this.’ They didn’t have any pictures of sheep that were like the cover of ATOM HEART MOTHER, but they had these other pictures of sheep … hundreds, thousands of pictures of sheep, and we picked the ones we used because it had that same sort of feeling.”
Additionally in the KLF vs. the BRITs article in NME Drummond is asked why cut up sheep on stage? “Tons of reasons. You know, it’s that whole thing about sacrificial lambs and about lambs to the slaughter. And there was something in there about that Geoffrey Howe thing, being savaged by a dead sheep.” [quiet peaceful Howe had a savage attack on Mrs Thatcher after she sacked him which helped to bring her down.] Danny Kelly then reminds Drummond that “sheep…(are) deeply embedded in the JAMs/KLF mythology (and so) wasn’t the sheep-hacking idea a bit like suicide? Drummond agreed “Exactly, that’s in there too. That’s what the ‘KLF have now left the music business’ was about…”
The Fall are a British indie group from Manchester led by loud-mouth singer Mark E Smith. They have been releasing uncompromising guitar punk-pop tunes for an incredible 18 years so far. There is no connection to the KLF other than Big In Japan and The Fall started at the same time and they (and members of the Teardrops and Bunnymen) were all hangers on in the Northwest punk scene in 1977.
However there are some connections in the KLF’s body of work. Firstly The Fall’s ‘Totally Wired’ single is sampled in ‘Next’ on 1987. It was the only sample on the LP that they had permission to use, and it is the only sample that appears on 1987 – The Edits (JAMS 25) which is the LP with spaces instead of samples so that it’s legal!
Secondly the lyrics of “The Prestwich Prophets Grin” on “Who Killed the Jams?” contain a reference to The Fall. In a section on changing identities, and the end of the JAMs the lyrics are something like:
Well Mark E Smith, it’s your turn now/
To roll the dice and win/
The tables turned, now we’re The Fall/
The North will rise again!
Around this time the Fall were enjoying their only period of chart success, including a dance-influenced single called ‘Hit The North’.
Then The FALL was listed as one of the alias of the KLF in The Manual, and spelt out as The Forever Ancients Liberation Loophole (and on a 1990 T-shirt). This refers to the liberation loophole which their lawyer David Franks found to release them from their contract with Eternity in the White Room movie. They mention the liberation loophole in the lyrics of the UK LP version of ‘Last Train To Trancentral’ by the way.
Different people pretending to be the same person, is a common situationist-inspired tactic as practised by Stewart Home and friends who produce different magazines all called ‘Smile’ written by multiple Karen Elliots reviewing music produced by multiple Monty Cautsins.
Solid State Logic is a manufacturer of analogue and digital audio consoles for music, broadcast, post production and film, founded in 1969. It’s mentioned various times in throughout the KLF catalogue: “The Manual” has a short snippet about them, it appears in Disco 2000’s “I Gotta CD” and, most notably, the 1991 version of “3 a.m. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L.)”.
The reference in “3 a.m. Eternal” points towards their range of mixing desks, most likely because it was recorded using one, so you _could_ read it as ‘live at the mixing desk’ (which pretty much sums up all singles from the Stadium House trilogy).
Before Christmas, one of the two newspaper ads had promised free cans of lager to those who turned up to the Brick Lane showing of the WTKFBAMQ film. As things had turned out this didn’t happen, so Bill and Jimmy were left with several hundred cans of beer. It was reported in very early 1996 that Bill and Jimmy had given away a few thousand cans of Tennant’s Super-strength lager to the homeless of London.
The reports allege that these were made into a piece of artwork (a photo appeared in Blah Blah Blah with the cube of 6,237 cans (approx. 25x10x24)) They were driven around London on the back of a lorry on New Year’s Eve (1995) by Gimpo, Bill and Jimmy. However, there was an accident on London Bridge, and some of the cans fell off. They were then distributed to the homeless by Bill and Jimmy that night. Bill also writes about this in his autobiography ’45’.
Shown on Monday 6th November 1995 (BBC1, 50 mins) directed by Kevin Hull and subtitled “A Foundation Course in Art”. The Omnibus programme set out to “tell the story of the creative partnership of Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond, and how they tried to storm into the art world.” The programme began with a (very) brief history of Bill and Jimmy’s music career, from the Timelords to the BRITs, and then concentrated on the burning of the million pounds. Using clips from the “Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid” film (complete with original soundtrack), interviews with both Bill and Jimmy, Gimpo and other associates like Jane Casey, the documentary managed to account the events leading up to and the burning itself, and then went on to look at the aftermath; Bill and Jimmy’s motives for doing it (they gave little away), what they planned to do with the ashes and whether the money burnt was genuine.
They had tried to get several galleries to exhibit the “Nailed to the Wall”, or host the burning, but none would, so they went to Jura and did it there. The programme makers took (“stole” according to Bill, who says he had no knowledge of it at the time) a briefcase containing the remaining ashes from the burning to a number of galleries, to see whether they considered it ‘art’ and what value they would place on it, but most didn’t and hence wouldn’t. It was also taken to a lab where some ‘experts’ examined the ashes, validated the notes and proclaimed them to be the remains of around ukp 80,000 worth of 50-pound notes.
The programme also looked at the beginnings of the film tour, with footage of the In The City showing, Bill and Jimmy in discussion with Jane Casey about projecting it onto the side of the Tate in Liverpool and Gimpo’s reactions to them giving him ownership of the film (“I’ve never been a film director before”). One interesting point is that the film showed Bill and Jimmy being interviewed for Radio 1, and Jimmy rummaging in a bag for the DAT of “The Magnificent”. Bill is clearly heard to say “Make sure it isn’t the DAT with 3 tracks on it”. The nature of these mystery tracks is (as yet) unknown.
List members thought the programme was not really pro-the burning, and perhaps a tad sceptical and biased against it, but was most interesting and informative, nevertheless. Some list members may still have copies lying around.
We’re not entirely certain. The closest fonts people have found so far are Compacta Bold and Commador. Both are pretty similar and can easily fool someone at first glance, though they are not 100 percent identical to the real thing.
It has also been suggested that the KLF font may be related to Folio, Helvetica, or even Hattenschweiler.
Is there any connection with Coldcut/Yazz? I saw a KLF record in the video for “The Only Way Is Up”!
Coldcut produced and released “Doctorin’ The House” as by Coldcut, the title of which was a pun on their original “Doctor In The House” available to DJs for some time before. The “Doctorin’ The House” release also featured Yazz and the Plastic Population.
The KLF thought this was a jolly amusing pun, and worked on their “Doctorin’ The Tardis” using Gary Glitter, the Doctor Who theme and The Sweet and released it to world-wide adulation and admiration.
Around the same time (but probably before), Coldcut produced Yazz’ first solo single, “The Only Way Is Up”, again featuring the Plastic Population, and billed to Yazz and them. No mention of Coldcut, except in the production credits. The video to this single (which was a UK number 1) showed a DJ scratching with a KLF record. I assume at the time that it was the back side of “Burn The Bastards/Burn The Beat”, as I don’t think “Doctorin’ The Tardis” had been released then. Try checking the relative release dates of the latter with “Doctorin’ The House”.
There are a few tracks out there which are not listed on our website. Chances are that the track in question simply is no KLF track at all.
The KLF “Please Don’t Go”
“Please Don’t Go” is a cover version by KWS (to our best knowledge). There are various versions of this song available, but none of them has ever been recorded by Bill and Jimmy.
The KLF “Turn Up The Strobe”
There are in fact two different tracks labelled “Turn Up The Strobe” out there. One of them is a very long track with not too much music at all but several voice samples spread throughout the track (most notably “I said it’s bigger than Scientology”). The actual title of the track is “God, the Devil and J.R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs part 9”, taken from a three hour radio broadcast of a band called “The Button”. It originally was going to be uploaded to mp3.com, but they didn’t seem to like all of the samples for some reason. The tracks then found their way to napster. When like minds of the Evolution Control Committee developed the “napster bomb”, The Button’s tracks were also made available in “bomb” form. Knowing that Turn Up The Strobe is a KLF “Holy Grail” which few (if any) have heard, they decided that it was a great delivery vehicle for the “bomb”.
The second track sounds like a very bad recorded trash metal jamming session, and is indeed by Bill and Jimmy (although its original name is either “The Black Room” or “Terminator 10”). The reason why there is no better version online is that it simply does not exist. Further recording of the “Black Room” album had been scrapped by The KLF in 1992, long before it had been finished.
The KLF “Kylie Said MU”
Apparently this is just a mislabelled remix of “Kylie Said To Jason”.
The KLF “38/The Black Room/Terminator 10/…”
These were taken from the first recording session of the “Black Room” album, so although they sound rather bad, they are indeed proper tracks by The KLF and Extreme Noise Terror. As mentioned above, there are unfortunately no better recordings of these.
Enigma ” Mea Culpa (KLF remix)”
The KLF never remixed any Enigma tracks during their five year long life span. The only artists that ever got the KLF treatment were Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys.