I hate it when someone asks me what my favourite band is; there are plenty of them, and they vary with my mood. It might be Faith No More (on a number of times I’ve seen them live basis, although to be fair I think the Macc Lads just beat them on that count), or Underworld, or Adam and the Ants or even Carter if I’m in a particularly strange mood.
Most of the time, though, it’s:
Also known as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, furthermore known as The JAMs, although the first time I heard of them was when they called themselves The Timelords and appeared out of nowhere with a completely brilliant number one single called Doctor in the Tardis:
I’m using a shitty recording of their Top of the Pops performance instead of the actual video, because by Christ they knew how to do Top of the Pops. Anyway, Doctor in the Tardis came about because they wanted to have a number one single based around the Doctor Who theme music, and the only beat that fitted it was the glitter beat, so they mixed it up with The Sweet’s Blockbuster and Gary Glitter’s Rock & Roll Part 2. It got to number one, and then they wrote a book about how they did it, called it The Manual – How To Have A Number One The Easy Way and sold it with a money-back guarantee. If you followed their instructions to the letter and didn’t get a number one single within three months, they’d refund you the cost of the book. Never mind that if you’d followed their instructions to the letter you’d be in debt to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds. It keeps getting reprinted every now and then, and while a lot of it’s out of date, I strongly advise you to read it if you haven’t already.
And that was it for The Timelords. Then a few years later I noted a track called What Time Is Love troubling the charts, and thought that the band’s name sounded familiar. Doctor In The Tardis had been released on a label called KLF Communications, and here was an outfit called The KLF. Interesting. And then they showed up on Top of the Pops:
Distinct lack of cloaks and top hats, but the KLF logo was the same. After that came another single, 3AM Eternal, and they really started to work TotP:
By this time I was really interested. And then they topped it with this:
Last Train To Trancentral was the final part of their Stadium House Trilogy, three chart-focused singles for which they invented a whole new genre. Big dance tunes with crowd noise layered on top, lots of re-used samples to ram home the fact that they were, indeed, The KLF, and reasonably nonsensical lyrics peppered with their own home-spun mythology, lots of it pinched from The Illuminatus! Trilogy. What’s not to love?
After Last Train To Trancentral I began a long campaign to find as much of their stuff as possible, and amassed a pretty decent collection. I eventually found a bootleg of their long-withdrawn first album, 1987 (What The Fuck Is Going On?) in a record shop in Halifax. It’s a sample-strewn, rough and ready masterpiece that fell foul of Abba thanks track two of side two nicking virtually the whole of Dancing Queen. Tracked down their second album, Who Killed The JAMs?, in a second-hand record shop in High Wycombe, and along the way picked up assorted 12-inch singles and rarities, including this one by one of their side-projects:
Anyway, after Stadium House they were away for a few months then returned as The JAMS with It’s Grim Up North, then they went back to full-on KLF madness, firstly recruiting Tammy Wynette for Justified And Ancient, then revisiting What Time Is Love? with this completely bonkers epic:
How can you top that? Only by turning up at the Brit Awards with Extreme Noise Terror to do a death metal version of 3AM Eternal that climaxes with Bill Drummond firing a machine gun into the audience, then announcing that The KLF have left the music business.
So that’s what they did:
And that was it. Apart from re-appearing as the K Foundation, awarding a prize for the worst work of art that just happened to be the winner of the Turner Prize, burning a million quid, disappearing again and finally re-appearing as 2K for one last bash at the Barbican:
I was there. It was awesome.
Tomorrow: WE DO WHAT WE LIKE AND WE LIKE WHAT WE DO.