The KLF: Album-by-single-by-album

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by bunglejerry, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. Hermetech Mastering

    Hermetech Mastering Well-Known Member

    Paris, France
    Sorry it took a while, just timed, yes, 7:40 for A side. Would love to hear the even longer version too!
  2. Thanks to all who’ve appreciated my occasional interjections into the thread. Here’s a few of my thoughts on A:WTIL is love below – as always, difficult to add much to BungleJerry’s epic post!

    America: What Time Is Love
    1. So, just 18 months later, the KLF to the UK charts return with a remix of the track which first brought them into the public consciousness (itself a remix of course). And it uses many of the same samples as their previous big hits under the KLF banner! The production team knew they were pushing their luck here (as outlined in Turn Up The Strobe), but at least three things prevented a backlash. Firstly the epic heavy metal techno production and Viking concept is clearly miles from the original chart version. So it’s different enough (just!) that the public didn’t feel ripped-off. Second, B+J were manna from heaven for the press and industry, so the media got on board on last time. “Single of the Millennium” in the NME I believe! Thirdly – great video!
    2. Arguably they broke-up at the right time, because I think they were one more recycling away from a backlash – and the legend would’ve been tainted!
    3. The (over-)production is clearly fantastic and the sound pre-empts some later forays into techno-metal (e.g. The Prodigy), though obviously in the KLF’s own inimitable way.
    4. Like It’s Grim Up North, the single version does a sterling job in condensing an epic track into 3 or so minutes, somehow preserving the crucial elements and the epic feel. Glenn Hughes is merely a bit-part player in the single version, competing with 100 other elements,
    5. Unlike IGUN, the long version overstays its welcome slightly, coming back one last time when it should’ve finished-up. Perhaps the 7 ½ minute version finishes at the correct time?
    6. The Viking chorus is actually one person, multi-tracked! Again, great production job.
    7. I’ve heard both Aquarius and West Side Story cited as the “inspiration” for the operatic section. Perhaps a bit of both?
    8. MC Bello returned as he’d been the featured rapper on the original hit WTIL. His manager had previously turned down the offer of appearing on 3AM, unbeknown to Bello at the time, so Ricardo entered the fray!
    9. For the video, conditions on set were hellish. Most of the extras from the Viking re-enactment society didn’t turn-up for the second day of filming, though B+J did double their daily rate from £30 to £60. The society also got to keep the boat.
    Bolero likes this.
  3. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I love that the chorus was one person overdubbed. I never knew that! Amazing how far production came in the 1980s (and just as well they didn't record this one in Jimmy's house). Enya's Watermark album (1988) is the first I know of a massed chorus of overdubbed vocals.

    West Side Story obviously makes a lot more sense than Hair, because WSS is all about America, and the most popular song is actually called "America." But... it just sounds like "Aquarius" to me.
  4. Bolero

    Bolero Forum Resident



    ps Happy New Year, to all
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  5. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Happy New Year to you too!

    I have the next-to-final entry ready. I'll put it up pretty soon.
    Hermetech Mastering likes this.
  6. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter


    3 a.m. ETERNAL (CHRISTMAS TOP OF THE POPS 1991) (Spring 1992)

    Nothing ever seems like it ends at 'the right time', not at the time, anyway. Jimmy and Bill's snap decision to bow out of the music industry in February 1992, at the height of their powers and popularity, seemed like madness at the time. Well... it was madness, as was everything else they did. But it seemed far too early. It still does. Which is probably why it was the right decision.

    But... but... what could have been... we know that toward the end of the KLF's lifespan, an exhausted Bill and Jimmy were holed up in an upscale recording studio with a band called Extreme Noise Terror (or ENT for short). Active since 1985, ENT were a 'hardcore' band from Ipswich whose early recordings were far closer to 'punk' than to 'metal'. They had started their metamorphosis by the time Bill and Jimmy called them up to collaborate, but it was really their time with KLF that pushed them from what was called 'crust punk' toward what was called 'crust metal' - not as different as you might think, though those vocals are a different thing altogether.

    Contemporary accounts of these recording sessions have ENT working with the KLF on a series of songs that would form the basis of an album tentatively titled The Black Room, designed as the heavy partner to the lighter The White Room. Seemingly a more introspective and autobiographical turn for Bill Drummond, some of these songs had fragmentary lyrics ruminating on Bill's lot in life. A handful of sketches of arguable authenticity have surfaced, but they give next to no insight into what might have been.

    And we'll never know. Because as it happens, all we have of the KLF and ENT's collaboration are two different versions of the same song: a live recording and a studio version of "3 a.m. Eternal", yet another kick at an increasingly pummelled can. The studio track was certainly not intended for The Black Room (although who can say for sure with these guys...) but was instead designed for airplay on the Top of the Pops 1991 Christmas special. It was rejected from the show, so it sat collecting dust until some time in the spring of 1992, after their gimmicky "retirement" from the music business, as a one-sided mail-order white-label seven-inch numbered KLF 5TOTP, the last official musical release on KLF Communications.

    By then, of course, the KLF/ENT collaboration was most famous for the other performance of this song, live at the 1992 Brits, in front of a well-dressed and stunned audience. The mythology behind the performance (early fever dreams of Drummond hacking apart a sheep with a chainsaw on stage, dousing the front rows with sheep's blood, or even cutting his own hand off on-stage; a dead sheep left at the door of an afterparty; the machine-gun blanks shot into the crowd; the fact of it serving as KLF's retirement) can be discussed at great length. Overlooked by many is the fact that the performance itself, a god-forsaken scream of fury in the faces of the British music elites, was brilliant, as brilliant as anything else the KLF did in their five years together.

    On stage at the Brits, Drummond came onstage in a kilt and with a crutch under one arm. He proceeded to spit into the mic with such venom he recalled Johnny Rotten at his prime, even though the thrash tempo got the better of him and he messed up an entire verse of the song. The ENT vocalists, meanwhile, shredded their vocal cords like the best of them. While Bill was front and centre with the mic (and crutch and machine gun), Jimmy was in the back, another of the barrage of guitarists. ENT criticised his performance here as being off-key and off-tempo, a criticism I'm tempted to compare to Jackson Pollock complaining that another person's splash of paint on top of his own ruined everything. But then again, what do I know about 'abstract expressionism' or 'crust punk'?

    What I do know it that this performance shocked the staid British Music Awards out of their torpor. As the song came to a crashing halt, Scott Piering announced over the PA that "the KLF have left the music business", a riff on the Stadium House single version, which was a riff on Elvis Presley's live performances. Surely, no one at the time would have suspected it was true.

    But it was. Well, more or less.

    3 a.m. Eternal (Christmas Top of the Pops 1991) (★★★★★): Despite sounding for all the world like a simple recording of a bunch of lads bashing away at their instruments in the same room together, the studio version of "3 am Eternal" was apparently meticulously pieced together by Jimmy on an Apple, just as he had for so many of the KLF's rave and house classics. After a familiar sample or two from the Stadium House version, the guitars start to crash in as one of ENT's two vocalists, playing the unlikely role of Maxine Harvey, grunts out "KLF, uh-huh uh-huh." For a brief moment, it all sounds like a rather clever joke.

    But it isn't, at all. Later on, Drummond himself takes the role of Ricardo da Force, caterwauling the lyrics frantically and semi-coherently into the din. Whether or not it's technically Drummond's best vocals on a KLF song, it is no doubt his most compelling vocal performance: edgy, impassioned and nasal. The highlight of the track is really the interplay between the two vocalists (perhaps there are three; perhaps both ENT singers are present; I can't be sure). The masterful caustic rumbling growl of the ENT vocals (quite possibly tweaked in post-production to thicken them and add resonance) contrasts dramatically with Drummond's jabbering.

    I'm certainly no expert on punk or metal or any associated genres, but this pounding adrenaline rush strikes me as rather excellent - both as a punkish thumbed nose at their own successes and at the music industry that had started to enthusiastically embrace them, and as an actual listening experience. The guitars thrash away, the drums career along at an extremely high tempo, the vocalists spit and sneer, and the whole thing is an amazing out-of-control rush, headlong into a wall.

    And when the dust and smoke cleared, Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond were gone. Just like true magicians.
  7. MGSeveral

    MGSeveral Active Member

    The mail-order single sold out, payment only available by cheque so if you were unlucky and did not get one, your cheque got destroyed. Hmm, familiar theme?

    Anyway, the 7" did get reissued by Vinyl Japan, which is how I got one about a year later.
  8. Hermetech Mastering

    Hermetech Mastering Well-Known Member

    Paris, France
    I bought mine on Discogs about two years ago, didn't come with a picture cover, not sure if it's an original, re-issue or bootleg, any way to tell?

    What's the las release gonna be then bunglejerry, the '**** The Millennium' single? I was at the live event for that at the Barbican in London, it was a crazy night! Snagged two of the goodie bags with t-shirts and press info etc., but only managed to hold on to them both for about a decade, no idea where they ended up, can't believe it was over 20 years ago!****_the_Millennium
  9. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    ***k the Millennium came out on Blast First!, so it doesn't count.

    I started with a pre-JAMS roundup, so I'm going to finish with a post-KLF roundup. That will include FTM, alongside K. Cera Cera and The Magnificent, and otherwise will try to touch on Drummond and Cauty's individual work over the past 25 years. It's impossible to be comprehensive about this, but I'll do the best I can.
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