What Time Is Love? (Pure Trance)

One of the cornerstones of The KLF’s history, and a departure from their previous sample-riddled output as The JAMs and their brief pop detour as The Timelords. Instead What Time Is Love embraced the emerging rave scene and the style of music it brought along with it.

We were drawn to the purity of that kind of music, of music that has no form, nothing to write about, no reference points and no irony.Bill Drummond (Sounds, 24 Nov 1990)

What Time Is Love was meant to kick off The KLF’s Pure Trance series but failed to gain significant recognition in the UK at first until it became a hit single in European clubs.


Everyone remembers “3am Eternal” and “Last Train To Trancentral”, but the one that caught on like a virus was surely “What Time Is Love?” Its circular keyboard motif, suffused with the new club culture’s combination of illicit thrill and menace, went beyond the sensory distortion of straight acid house. Somehow, it was pop too. […] “What Time Is Love?” embedded itself in the pop landscape as the moment when dance music realised it could eat the world alive. Within weeks of its release, no club would play it, but no club needed to. It was already on every radio in the land, changing everything for ever.
Andrew Harrison, Unknown 'Club Classics' Feature
Andrew Harrison

Tracks & Formats

KLF 004T

12″ Single / 17 Oct 1988
A What Time Is Love? (Mix 1) 7:05
B What Time Is Love? (Mix 2) 7:00

There are no official mix names stated anywhere on the sleeve or labels, though according to the master cassette inlay they are the “Original” and “Sub Bass Acid” mix respectively. Later releases including the A-side mix usually labeled it as the “1988 Pure Trance Original” (or simply “Original”) as well.

10 thoughts on “What Time Is Love? (Pure Trance)

  1. If you trying to get both remixes on ONE CDS, watch out for the austrian WTIL “Power Remix” CDS:

    CDS ( GiG Records ‎– 9031-72897-2) features:

    1 What Time Is Love (7″ Remix) (Remix – Jürgen Koppers) 3:54
    2 What Time Is Love (Pure Trance 1 Side A Mix) 7:08
    3 What Time Is Love (Pure Trance 1 Side B Mix) 7:05

    1. Tracklist claims it includes the full length Power Remix and only one of the Pure Trance mixes but the above tracklist is indeed correct. For all the confusion the Power Remixes have caused this is actually a worthy “mispress”, though a rather pricey one as well.

  2. According to the Rites Of Mu fansite, the names of both mixes have been officially stated as this according to a master-cassette with unedited versions of the Primal and Techno Slam mixes and the Monster Attack mix.
    A-side: Original Mix
    B-side: Sub Bass Acid Mix
    Should these be added or not?

  3. Just to note, the actual main riff is from Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber, notably Judas Death and The Thirty-Nine Lashes. Or did they get the riff from Anne Clark’s track ‘Our Darkness”. Although i think Bill mentioned the nicked the riff from Jesus Christ Superstar.

    1. Not sure whether they ever actually admitted nicking the riff on purpose or it just crawled out from their subconscience. It’s certainly a striking resemblance, though.

      1. Amazing a website devoted to The KLf, and yet you don’t know anything about where the riff from What time is love originally came from, almost laughable!
        I used to correspond with The KLF way back in early 1988 just after Shag times was released, mainly Cressida did all the mail correspondence, either handwritten or typed. Bill said the riff came from Jesus Christ Superstar! it’s also mentioned by Lazlo Nibble.

        1. We do know, but even in that interview Bill claims it merely happened by accident. There isn’t a single source that says they knowingly ripped the riff liked they sampled “Dancing Queen” for example.

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