Why sheep?

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…”

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