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

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

  1. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    Poor mastering on the US as well... It's nice to have both however for the variations. I still need to track down the Blow Up! Justified single for the non US single track.
  2. -------------------------------------------
    Building a better White Room album (1991)
    So I’ve been quibbling a bit about the rushed nature of the eventual White Room release. Just for fun, here’s my take on how to make it better, only using tracks completed prior to its eventual release, with no fantasy overdubs – so no LTTT (single version), Grim (single), J+A (single) or America: WTIL. Practically everything else if fair game, as far as I can tell.

    I’m going to stick closely to the eventual release. I don’t think a major overhaul is needed, at least not on Side A. Disclaimer – I haven’t built and listened to this (not enough time…), so this order might not work!

    Side A - Live from Trancentral [Stadium House side]
    1. Justified and Ancient Was Such a Long Time Ago…
    AKA the intro (UK version). I like the intro, but let’s make it easy to skip…

    2. What Time Is Love (Live at Trancentral)
    The 12” version, segued with MC5 sample censored (commercial reasons). This has all 3 verses.

    3. 3 AM Eternal (Live at the SSL – radio)
    Same as on White Room UK, segued with crowd noise. No benefit t0 using 12” version – bad edits and repetition of sections.

    4. Make It Rain
    As White Room UK, segued with crowd noise.

    5. Church of the KLF
    As White Room UK

    6. Last Train To Trancentral (LP Mix)
    As White Room UK. As noted, single mix not finished at initial release, as far as I know.

    End of side = end of concert

    So only 2 real changes - long version of WTIL and shifting Make It Rain to third track (proper). Too front-loaded? Perhaps. Would need to listen to see if really works, but OK on paper.

    Side B - Lost in Trancentral [ambient/downtempo side]
    1. 3 AM Eternal (Blue Danube Orbital Mix)
    Possibly segued into...

    2. Madrugada Eternal (Club Mix)
    Possibly segued into...

    3, Build a Fire
    As per White Room UK

    4. The White Room
    As per White Room UK or an early fade if want to create tighter edit

    5. No More Tears (Radio Edit)
    Less it more with this track IMO – 4 minutes long and consequently tighter.

    6. Justified and Ancient
    As per White Room UK

    End of side = leaving Trancentral, back at the beginning again.

    Big changes here... A remix of the familiar 3AM eases listeners into the different landscape of Side B. The phenomenal Madrugada Club introduces steel guitars into the equation, with soft club beats, which nicely tees up Build a Fire. The rest is pretty much as is, with a shorter, sharper mix of No More Tears used instead. Would think about nixing this track, though it does have its fans.

    Practicality in 1991? Would they really have considered the Blue Danube mix for inclusion? Maybe not, as quite old and an Orb remix, though I’m sure Dr LX would’ve jumped at the chance for some massive royalties! But maybe the Strauss estate would object...

    And does Madrugada belong to this suite of songs? Well it was the theme to the White Room trailer, so my answer is a resounding yes! The club mix is sufficiently different from the Chill Out version to be worth re-using (and B+J weren’t exactly shy about re-using stuff anyway).

    In theory the above line-up would be a big improvement IMO - particularly if arranged properly! Not saying the above is the optimal order however.
  3. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I have an irrational love for the soundtrack version of No More Tears, so I'd put that there, personally. Other than that, they're definitely interesting choices.

    And re: Grim, the white label dropped two months before the album, so that's an option too.
  4. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Also I think the flow might be better if you went "Build a Fire" --> "MA (club mix)" --> "White Room". Keeps the steel guitar segue but builds tempo up track to track.
  5. Bolero

    Bolero Forum Resident

    Interesting stuff!

    Nowadays with playlists its pretty easy to reorder the album to do that

    will have to hunt down a lossless version of the UK to compare
  6. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter



    With a keen eye for seizing the moment, the KLF in their "strictly commercial" phase certainly knew how to milk every last drop out of their fleeting fame. At a time when such a thing was not especially common, the KLF put out a "video EP" corralling their recent videos into one package. It was certainly no "greatest hits" collection, though, focusing only on the three songs that with this release were confirmed to be a "trilogy". Their three almost-identical videos were placed back to back, with comically elongated opening and closing credits making it seem like the "trilogy" was some kind of prog-rock epic. Additionally, UK audiences (though not American or Australian audiences) were treated to a 15-minute montage of backstage footage with a unique and otherwise-unavailable soundtrack.

    No doubt logistically unable to get together the resources necessary to put a mass-market VHS cassette in shops nationwide, Bill and Jimmy partnered with an organisation called Picture Music International to put this out, with a very un-KLF Communications-like catalogue number of MVR 9900983, making it fair to question whether I should be including this at all. It is, however, clearly a KLF Communications project, with which both Bill and Jimmy were heavily involved (though interestingly the packaging barely mentions Drummond, saying "Conceived & Created by Jimmy Cauty" instead), and is filled with not-otherwise-available extra content.

    Opening Credits (★★★★): The opening credits roll over a one-minute excerpt of the "UFO Mix" of the Pet Shop Boys' "It Must be Obvious". The KLF did few outside remixes during their time together, but they did remix both the a-side and the b-side of the Pet Shop Boys' "So Hard" single. The a-side is an interesting but largely conventional remix, while the b-side is... something completely different. Nine and a half minutes long, the "UFO Mix" of "It Must be Obvious" drops the titular song in for the first minute and the final two minutes, but the six minutes in between have absolutely nothing to do with the Pet Shop Boys at all, being a sound collage most similar to Space (given the sci-fi theme) but still quite unlike it. This is the darkest ambient material either Jimmy or Bill (who likely had little to do with this) ever released during their time together. It doesn't even pretend to be music, alternating quiet passages with boomingly loud sound effects (distorted machine-voices, bleeps and bloops, backwards voices, huge sucking sounds). The Pet Shop Boys are merely one element among many. God knows what Tennant and Lowe must have thought when it was submitted.

    3 a.m. Eternal: The seven inch mix, and I guess the most polished video of the three. Certainly the one I remember most from back in the day; Ricardo La Force bellowing into a walkie talkie while being driven around in Ford Timelord by Jimmy with Bill in the passenger's seat, absolutely barmy choreography with billowy capes designed by Cressida, Maxine Harvey and P.P. Arnold lip syncing as if their life depended on it, and Jimmy and Bill pulling ace rock-god moves in tandem with low-slung guitars. The colour blue just everywhere. And, again, the whole thing looking - for all its ridiculousness - really slick and the work of a cohesive band with three black singers.

    Last Train to Trancentral: Seven-inch mix again. More or less the exact same thing, except that Jimmy and Bill are now rocking sitars, and Cressida gets a lot more screen-time, wearing an "Indian headdress" and looking like a preteen on a sugar high, Wanda Dee is there lip-syncing her line and strutting her stuff. Ricardo La Force looks hard as nails, perhaps annoyed by his place here on the sidelines. The set is the same, a pyramid-shaped stage with people dancing in capes. Both Ford Timelord the car and the "last train" in question get replicated as scale models, and while the low-budget scale models might seem cheesy, it's worth observing that Jimmy has, for a decade or more now, been using scale models as his main artistic medium, so perhaps we see Jimmy's future in art being laid out here. Everything is still really blue in colour.

    What Time is Love: Someone can correct me if I'm wrong here, but I think that "3 a.m. Eternal" and "Last Train to Trancentral" both had their promo clips come out to accompany the album release, while "What Time is Love" was made after the fact and debuted on this collection. It is maddeningly similar to the two preceding videos, ridiculous in its own way. The background dancers have exchanged their cloaks for angel costumes, but Cressida's dressed like the devil. Isaac Bello looks amazing in a white Kufi hat, a handful of men are wearing mock "Zulu" costumes, and there's shiny tin foil everywhere. Wanda Dee keeps mouthing her four-word sample as if her life depended on it, fixing her gaze on the camera and rubbing her hands all over her body in a frankly unpleasant way. In seeming tribute to the Art of Noise and their video for "Close (to the Edit)", Bill and Jimmy spend the video laying into musical equipment with circular saws, shooting sparks everywhere. That's about it.

    Closing Credits: It takes fully two minutes for the KLF to ensure everyone from the caterers to the Best Boy gets their time in the sun, and the payoff is the first official release of "It's Grim Up North", or rather two minutes excerpted from the white-label promo version that came out the previous December. It's strange and mysterious here, more ominous than the main attraction songs.

    This is Not What the KLF is About (★★★½): The final fifteen minutes of the 30-minute VHS cassette are taken up with the sort of "backstage footage" you might expect to surface as "extra material" on a DVD (excepting of course that the outtakes here are longer than the actual material itself. It's mildly fascinating to see the madness of the Stadium House videos being orchestrated, but it's certainly nothing you'll need to watch more than once. The value is in the audio: another 15-minute audio collage unavailable elsewhere (and no more than coincidentally related to the video it accompanies). It's aimless largely in the same way that Waiting was aimless, but it rewards repeated listening. While it features lengthy excerpts from Space and Chill Out, it has a much greater sense of unease than either of those, largely due to the thick bed of unsourceable audio of talking voices, found sounds of bad weather conditions, and the constant thwub-thwub of music spooling backwards. The piece gets louder as it progresses, and elements from the Stadium House tracks themselves (and the Pure Trance "What Time is Love") are introduced and varispeeded into madness. Like Chill Out, more preacher voices show up (at least one Scottish!), and it all ends with the sonar ping from "3 a.m. Eternal".

    I can't really figure out why the American and Australian releases skipped over this: it is fully half the length of the release, after all.
  7. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter


    IT’S GRIM UP NORTH (October 1991)

    Born in South Africa and raised in Scotland and the East Midlands, William Ernest Drummond nevertheless counterintuitively sought out his fame and fortune in the late 70s in Liverpool. James Francis Cauty, meanwhile, while choosing London as a base for his artistic endeavours all of his adult life, is nonetheless a child of Cheshire in the Northeast. With the North of England being one of those places which the locals might savage mercilessly but woe be to anyone who dare criticise from the outside, Bill and Jimmy were just Northern enough to launch this sonic onslaught on the British populace.

    The most enigmatic and unusual of the six "mega-singles" of their 1991-1992 glory years, "It's Grim Up North" was actually a final version of an early work-in-progress version that had been released as an underground promo-only 12" in December of 1990. Both versions were released under the name Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, perhaps originally to preserve the track's underground nature (ironically, since that was more or less their reason for abandoning the JAMS moniker for the KLF in the first place). Regarding the commercially released version, perhaps the pseudonym was appropriate as this version had lead vocals by Bill Drummond and was, of course, a very different beast to the uplifting stadium house anthems for which the duo were gaining a reputation. As it turns out, it was a once-and-only-once resurrection of the previous (not-well-hidden) pseudonym.

    It was indeed brave to put out such an uncompromising, anti-commercial release in the midst of their chart dominance. It duly went to #10 on the charts all the same, proof that the British public would at this point eat up anything Drummond and Cauty put out, but also reassuring proof that complete artistic integrity and disregard for expectations could, on occasion, reap commercial rewards. The British public and the British music industry loves its iconoclasts, but who else but Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty would have released a single like this?

    Unsurprisingly, Arista in the USA gave this a sniff and turned up their nose. Toshiba in Japan eventually put it out in a singles box set but didn't go for it upon release either. Only three European labels (in Belgium, Germany and Denmark) took a chance on what of course was ultimately a celebration (?) of very distinct Britishness. Perhaps non-Brits couldn't be expected to get the joke.

    There are five releases to discuss here: an early take (It’s Grim Up North (Original Club Mix)) showed up in December 1990 on a one-sided white label, JAMS 028T, but the commercial release consisted of the following: a 7” and a cassingle, JAMS 028 and JAMS 028C respectively, both with seven-inch edits of (Part 1) and (Part 2); a 12” (JAMS 028R) with the full versions of (Part 1) and (Part 2); and a CD single (JAMS 028CD) with the (Radio Edit) plus the full-length versions of (Part 1) and (Part 2) along with a fourth track evocatively called “Jerusalem on the Moors”.

    "It's Grim Up North", amazingly, was the song to get Bill and Jimmy entered into Hansard when it - or more precisely a graffito of its title on the M1 - was mentioned on the floor of the House of Commons during debate. Bill and Jimmy denied making that particular timely act of vandalism, though guerilla promotion was always and remains part of their artistic ethos.

    While I might rank this piece very high on a personal list of "best KLF moments", within this song are the seeds of the band's eventual undoing: by most accounts, the pressure of dealing with newfound fame while recording a follow-up to their platinum The White Room album set the pair - or more specifically the elder of the pair - en route to a nervous breakdown. Among the many tragedies of this is that we never got to - and never will get to - hear that album, provisionally entitled The Black Room. The yin to the breakthrough album's yang, The Black Room was originally intended to be an album in the musical style predicted by this track. It later morphed toward guitar-thick metal-crossover, but forty minutes of "dark techno" in this vein would have been a thing of wonder and glory.

    It’s Grim Up North (Part 1) (★★★★★): The "dark techno" sound of this track was born of an impulse to build a dance track with no cymbals, snares or any other high- or mid-range elements. While the commercially-released version does indeed have cymbals (the early white-label doesn't), and while the commercially-released version has all sorts of mid-range crashes and bangs serving as equal parts drumbeat and factory ambiance, they pale in comparison to the multiple bass and sub-bass kick drum patterns that weave in and out of the mix here, a subsonic polyrhythmic barrage that seems to evoke in all who hear it the same conflicting reaction: the desire to dance but a seeming inability to do so. The result is entirely physical, as the song (when played loud) really does seem to pin you in your place. As so many of the KLF's songs seem to evoke travel, the tunnelling, pummeling sound of this groove brings to mind a punishingly fast trip (down the M62) in dismal weather through the grey industrial towns listed in the song's lyrics - for that is, in its entirely, what the lyrics of the song are: a lengthy list of Northern communities, read in a monotone by Drummond, who seems to relish the sound symbolism of these place names and who seems to be turning them into a kind of incantation (the track titles of the Chill Out album, and the soon-to-come lyrics of "America: What Time is Love" have a similar cartographical bent to them, with a similar purpose).

    There is not much in the way of traditional "music" in the first seven minutes of this track: every sonic element is in service of the pummelling barrage: churning industrial sounds evoke giant machines, smokestacks and steam trains, squelchy treble squeaks evoke rust, certain arpeggiating motifs and simple musical riffs show up, several of which are in an entirely different time signature to the main thud of the kick drum. The most conventionally musical aspect, certain semi-audible choral sounds serve as a kind of foreshadowing. It is certainly a composition all the same: these varying elements are all arranged carefully for fullest effect, to the extent that, while never letting up, the song shifts and mutates enough to be constantly fascinating. The bass is physical, but the song manages to feature both subsonic noises and supersonic noises, both of which tend to inspire nausea or disquiet in the listener. Along with the polyrhythms that constantly wrong-foot the listener and the musique concrete elements of train whistles, industrial whirring, pouring rain, etc., these conspire to evoke the "grimness" of the title and, thus, of the North itself.

    For the first seven minutes, that is. Famously, the last three minutes of this ten-minute track are an instrumental, quasi-orchestral, rendition of the historical patriotic anthem "Jerusalem" (a/k/a "And did those feet in ancient time"). William Blake composed the three verses, which imagine Jesus walking on English soil and contrast the paradise of Jerusalem with the "dark Satanic mills" of England, as a poem in 1804. The poem was set to music in 1916 by Sir Hubert Parry, and the resulting "hymn" is often considered as a kind of alternate National Anthem for England, as opposed to the UK whose national anthem is, of course, "God Save the Queen".

    So "It's Grim Up North" is a medley of sorts, and the transition between the two parts is slow and gradual, the major-key uplift of the hymn fighting for dominance with the cacophonous clatter and clank of the preceding techno song. It's easy to take it as a joke, a thumbed-nose at yet another sacred-cow anthem, and a way to render the track all but unplayable on radio or in clubs, but even though the obvious parallel of the "dark Satanic mills" probably explains Drummond and Cauty's decision to use the song, it really does make sense on a deeper level: the hymn really is a ray of sunshine breaking through dark clouds, and note how the pounding rain and wind at the start of the track seems to evoke the grimness and dread that the song aims for, but after the last cymbal crashes of the hymn fade away, at the end of the song we're still left with pounding rain and wind - but now, the rain seems hopeful, cleansing. The uplift that the hymn provides is remarkable, regardless of the relative locations of tongue and cheek. The entire ten-minute suite is grueling and punishing but somehow ends on a note of genuine glory. The North may be grim, but as any Northerner can confirm, there's beauty in that grimness and cause to celebrate.

    It’s Grim Up North (Part 2) (★★★★★): Even given the existence of a crust-metal version of "3 a.m. Eternal" designed specifically to shock, I wager that "It's Grim Up North (Part 2)" is the single most extreme moment in the KLF's recorded career (obviously not the most extreme action they ever did: that's a title that could never seriously be up for contention). In essence, it's merely an instrumental version of the a-side, but unmoored from the verse-chorus-verse structure of the original, the backing track's percussive assault becomes all the more brutal and shocking. Periodic dropouts have the song wavering from quiet (or indeed dead silent) to punishingly loud. It's six minutes long, but that's immaterial: it could have been two minutes, it could have been twenty. Play this for someone who doesn't know the KLF and they'll walk away with a really unusual image of the band.

    One thing it is not, though, is a "part two" of a two-part suite. Nothing is gained to the power of the a-side by playing the b-side directly after it. The parenthetical titles are a bit of a red herring, really. They could have just called them "(vocal)" and "(instrumental)" or "(a-side)" and "(b-side)".

    It’s Grim Up North (Radio Edit) (★★★★½): The ten-minute 12" devotes seven minutes to the song proper and three minutes to the orchestral coda. On the four-minute radio edit available on the CD single, this ratio is reduced to two and a half minutes to one and a half minutes, meaning that the manic thrill of the techno thump is over in 150 seconds. The city list is truncated and the between-verse instrumental moments are largely eliminated. The emotional effect of the full track is largely lost, so it's a pity that they maintained the segue into "Jerusalem"; a four-minute distillation that was techno from start to finish would probably have been a better idea (though this is the edit used in the video, and the sight of Bill, Jimmy, a drummer and a mannequin soaking wet and gazing proudly into the distance as the anthem plays is a memorable one).

    Jerusalem on the Moors (★★★): Perhaps a wasted opportunity for what might have been a decent joke, this is a reprise of the three-minute orchestral rendition of "Jerusalem" that closes out the "Part 1" version of the single. Unfortunately, that's meant quite literally: it is pretty much the final three minutes, excised out, which means that the industrial crashes and bangs (and some musical moments, and Drummond's distorted recitation of the title) are still present over the first half of the track. The genius of "It's Grim Up North", the fact of this hymn rising out of the clamour of the preceding seven minutes, is lost here, and all we have instead is a version of "Jerusalem" that's been mucked up a bit, like a Renaissance work of art with spray paint over it - which, okay, is a Situationist statement of its own (the mocking raspberry-sounds that years ago could be heard on the 1987 album irreverently playing the French and British national anthems show up again for this kind-of-anthem), but doesn't make a whole lot of sense on a single which plays expertly with reverence and irreverence. A straight take on the orchestral recording would have been preferable, I think.

    The single credits, incidentally, read "all tracks written by W. Drummond / J. Cauty" - a blatant falsehood that breaks no laws when discussing public domain music but it still a bit dodgy.

    It’s Grim Up North (Part 1 - edit) and It’s Grim Up North (Part 2 - edit): I have never heard these particular edits, so I can't comment on them. I’m not completely sure that the (Part 1 - edit) is something different to the (Radio Edit), but it is ten seconds shorter. So...

    It’s Grim Up North (Original Club Mix) (★★★★): Some artists put out white-label releases low-key in order to "test the waters" to see if a work-in-progress of a song or a remix would meet with the reaction they were hoping for. While Bill and Jimmy put out many white-labels during their time together, you generally get the impression that it was never for anything as insecure as that; after all, they rarely seemed to care what the public thought of their various experiments.

    This particular white label, put out ten months in advance of the (very different) commercial release - before even the Stadium House version of "3 a.m. Eternal" - seems to have been a rare exception to this. This early version differs greatly from the released version and, in my personal opinion, not for the better. The vocals here are delivered by Pete Wylie, a Liverpudlian associate and bandmate of Drummond's from way back, in a genuine Northern accent unlike Drummond's inescapably Scottish vocals. He seems quite detached as he recites the name, and while many of the elements - rain, machinery, arpeggiating synths, thumping four-on-the-floor - remain the same, this version lacks most of the power that makes the commercial track so fascinating. With a mostly unchanging musical bed and with Wylie's recitations not appearing until the four-minute mark, this track goes on too long and then, without the "Jerusalem" segue, doesn't know how to end, so it just peters out.

    Yes, it's a fascinating curio, a radically different early version with an intriguing guest vocalist. But their subsequent refinements of this track are entirely for the better, leaving this version little more than a curio.
  8. Hermetech Mastering

    Hermetech Mastering Vortextual Waveform Projection

    Paris, France
  9. TheLazenby

    TheLazenby Forum Resident

    Thought this might be worth sharing..... ever want all official versions of "Last Train To Trancentral" in one place? ME TOO! :) So I put this together....

    01) Intro (E-Train To Trancentral excerpt)
    02) Go To Sleep
    03) Wichita Lineman Was A Song I Once Heard
    04) Trancentral Lost In My Mind
    05) Last Train To Trancentral (Pure Trance Remix A)
    06) Last Train To Trancentral (Pure Trance Remix B)
    07) Last Train To Trancentral (The White Room Import LP Version)
    08) Last Train To Trancentral (Live From The Lost Continent)
    09) Last Train To Trancentral (The Iron Horse Mix)
    10) Last Train To Trancentral (808Bass Version)
    11) Last Train To Trancentral (120 Rock Steady)
    12) Last Train To Trancentral (Mu D. Vari-Speed Version)
    13) Last Train To Trancentral (Benio Over And Out)
    14) Outro (E-Train To Trancentral excerpt)

    Sources, if you're curious....
    01) 'What Time Is Love?' (CD single)
    02) 'The White Room: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (unreleased CD)
    03, 04) 'Chill Out'
    05) 'Ambient House' (various artists compilation)
    06, 07, 09) 'This Is What The KLF Is About I' (boxed set)
    08) 'Mu' (compilation)
    10, 11, 12) 'Last Train To Trancentral: KLF Meets The Moody Boys Uptown' (CD single)
    13) 'Deep Heat 10: The Awakening' (various artists compilation)
    14) 'What Time Is Love?: Remodelled and Remixed' (12" single)
    Bolero, Dan Steely and bunglejerry like this.
  10. -------------------------------------------
    Building a better White Room album (1991)
    So I tried some of my ideas, but they didn’t really work. I guess Bill and Jimmy might’ve been better at sequencing albums than me! (who’d have thunk…)

    I stand by the straight version swaps however. Apologies BungleJerry – I’m not a big fan of the White Album OST version of No More Tears! I can cope with a 4 minute edit of the 1991 version though.

    Incidentally I deliberately left the original Pete Wylie mix of Grim off my reimaging of the White album – too strongly associated with the Black album, which of course never came to fruition.

    Stadium House video
    The "Conceived & Created by Jimmy Cauty" credit is very interesting. Could it have been an accidental omission? Whatever the typical division of labour within the dynamic duo, I can’t see why this is more a solo-Jimmy than anything else they did.

    It’s Grim Up North
    So I’ve rhapsodised about this track before. Of B+J’s 6 top ten UK singles during their peak years, this is by far the most obscure, for a number of obvious reasons, chiefly the uncommercial nature of the track itself and the return of Bill as frontman. A few observations:

    1. Along with Chill Out, IGUN is perhaps the only B+J track that hasn’t aged in a negative manner (subjective opinion alert). Perhaps Space too, though this always had a 1970s Kraut/space rock feel to it.

    2. The release under the JAMs banner was the correct commercial decision and shows that the team were making all the right choices at this juncture. The KLF brand would’ve propelled IGUN a couple of places higher, but alienated more than a few of their fans. Such was their fame at the time – and subsequent recognition by the initiated, but not the casuals – a JAMs release was the perfect compromise.

    3. None of the places named in the track are actually that far north! Though the conception was perhaps just industrial towns around Yorkshire/Lancashire/the M62. Not sure how Nantwich made the cut though…

    4. The atmospheric video was filmed illegally on a half-finished motorway/bypass after the construction workers were slipped a few quid – around £30,000 allegedly. Though this might just be myth-making…

    5. IGUN is the one track of the big 6 where I unambiguously choose the 12” as the definitive version. But I still rate the single version however – it squeezes the key parts into a digestible 4 minutes. And the Jerusalem finale is essential…

    6. Following the above, the Jerusalem section is a conceptual and artistic masterstroke, perfectly drawing the parallel between the rave thump, the mechanical sounds of heavy industry and Blake’s dark satanic mills, tied together with the “story” of the common man. This was a few years before acid brass tried something similar, which of course Bill and Jimmy purloined for 2K to diminishing effect.

    7. Bill delivers the goods here in his best ever vocal performance. Fair enough, all he does is reel-off the list in a thick Scottish burr, but he does this with aplomb.

    8. Amongst hardcore fans, there’s naturally a tendency to venerate the obscure i.e. the original Pete Wylie version. I’m therefore glad that BungleJerry concurs that, whilst the original is interesting, the final single version is in fact superior. Apparently the original is some famous DJ’s (Sasha?) favourite ever record however.

    9. Following the positives, the (artistic, if not commercial) success of IGUN had a few negative effects on the KLF story e.g. the aforementioned 2K debacle and the terrible K Sera Sera orchestral track, released in limited numbers in the Middle East during the mid-1990s. There’s a hilarious anecdote from Michael Eavis, of Glastonbury fame, recounting how B+J wanted him to play K Sera Sera at the climax of the festival. Paraphrasing, Eavis said something like “I listened to it all the way through twice, but there was no getting around the fact it was rubbish!” A fair assessment Mr Eavis!
    Bolero likes this.
  11. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Man, am I glad to have you in this thread! I love your insight.

    FWIW to 2K and K Cera Cera you could also add "America No More", which with the bagpipes is kind of in the vein you're describing however is amazing. I don't hate "K Cera Cera" personally, but obviously you can't appreciate it viscerally like you can their best moments. It's an objet d'art, and intriguing in that, while it's a KLF song (K Foundation song), Jimmy and Bill neither composed it nor performed on it. Biggest problem with "K Cera Cera" is that it had no good reason to exist, and all that "world peace" stuff was rather childish as a "grand message".
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  12. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter


    JUSTIFIED & ANCIENT (November 1991)

    The story goes that Clive Davis, in attempting to court the fiercely independent KLF to his American label Arista, touted his ability to just pick up the phone and get access to any famous musician in America. While undoubtedly raising eyebrows at the crassness of the presentation, Bill and Jimmy decided to take him up on his offer - leading to the final moment of anarchic juxtaposition in their commercially-released recording career (the histrionics of Deep Purple's Glenn Hughes on "America: What Time is Love?" actually came out in the USA earlier), this rather famous rehash of what we might as well call their "theme song", recorded with Tennessee country-and-western legend Tammy Wynette.

    The novelty was in the seeming randomness of the collaboration, the KLF's dayglo-bright pop-house clashing rather strikingly with Wynette's homespun Southern charm. As a nod to her country roots, Bill and Jimmy brought in a pedal steel player (not, amazingly, "Evil" Graham Lee) to put in a few country-style whines deep into the mix, but otherwise this track is pure 1991 chart, a brilliantly-executed three and a half minutes of daftness and earworm-hooks that follows some of the rules of Jimmy and Bill's "The Manual" but does so with a much larger budget and with a bar-to-bar attention to detail. But nothing to do with Country and Western at all.

    Wynette remained a paragon of charm in the aftermath of this song, painting a picture of a quiet old small-town woman jettisoned into an imaginary world of excitement with no real clue of what was happening but happy to go along for the ride. (While seemingly engaging in a generational torch-passing, Wynette was at the time only 49 years old; in fact, only 11 years older than Bill Drummond himself.) "Mu Mu Land looks a lot more interesting than Tennessee," she was quoted as saying, "but I wouldn't want to live there." She expressed pleasure at her children's excitement to see her on the pop charts. Rather incongruously, "Justified & Ancient" has since appeared on several Tammy Wynette greatest hits collections, released both during her lifetime and after - despite obviously sticking out like the sorest of thumbs on CDs otherwise dedicated to country music.

    The truth is, though, that promotional efforts for the "Justified & Ancient" single got the better of the country legend, over-promotion leading to an on-stage collapse several months later. The recording itself was apparently fraught; as surprising as it seems, Wynette was apparently unaccustomed to singing with a click track, having spent decades recording her own material in an aberrant tempo that her band would attempt to adapt to. Drummond was despondent that the recording would be unusable, but Cauty microadjusted the recording syllable by syllable to keep it all in time. The result, released scant weeks after “It’s Grim Up North”, was every bit the commercial hit that probably everyone expected, racing almost to the top of the charts, spending the first two weeks of 1992 at number two behind, of all things, a re-release of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". Outpomped by the original, I suppose.

    A return to maximum commercial marketability, "Justified & Ancient" was released in almost as many different markets as "3 a.m. Eternal", and as such has a rather dizzying range of releases to track down. Sticking, as always, with the UK only, that gives us the following (the catalogue number 99 is, of course, a reference to the lyrics, which refer to a uniquely British tradition of sticking a Cadbury's Flake chocolate bar into a soft-serve ice cream cone and calling the result a "99"). There are a 7" (KLF 099) and a cassingle (KLF 099C), both consisting of "Stand by the JAMS" on the a-side and, rather surprisingly, the radically-different album version with Black Steel on the b-side (called here "The White Room version"). The main UK 12", KLF 099X, has the Maxine-sung "All Bound for Mu Mu Land" on the a-side along with an otherwise-unavailable edit of Tony Thorpe's "Make Mine a '99'" remix, and the "Stand by the JAMS" single version together with Tony Thorpe's "Let Them Eat Ice Cream" remix on the b-side. A CD single, KLF 009CD, has a generous five tracks on it (coming in only a minute shorter than the entirety of the "Who Killed the JAMS?" LP): the 7" version of "Stand by the JAMS", the album version, "All Bound for Mu Mu Land", "Make Mine a '99'" and "Let Them Eat Ice Cream". If this weren't enough, fully three different white-label promos exist, with silly catalogue numbers: CHOC ICE 1 holds the readily-available "All Bound for Mu Mu Land" and "Make Mine a '99'", while CHOC ICE 2 has the 12" version of "Stand by the JAMS" widely available on Arista but otherwise unavailable on a UK release; here it's merely called "Tammy" and has "Let Them Eat Ice Cream" on the b-side, called "Tony". CHOC ICE 3, meanwhile, is single-sided and only contains the otherwise-unavailable "Anti A Capella Mix".

    And here's a final kick in the teeth: across these mixes, four people will perform lead vocals: Tammy Wynette, Ricardo Da Force, Scott Piering and Maxine Harvey (all four are on the "Stand by the JAMS 12" version"). Of those four, only Maxine Harvey is still alive, the others having died in 1998, 2013 and 2000, respectively.

    Justified & Ancient (Stand by the JAMS) (★★★★½): Anything theatrical needs a theme song, and as the KLF was nothing if not theatrical, it makes sense for them to have one too, so here it is: the most famous KLF song not part of the "Stadium House trilogy", "Justified & Ancient" was a keystone of their career, appearing time and again across their recorded oeuvre, having been sung by no fewer than five vocalists with mutating lyrics that evolved into a kind of in-joke celebration of Bill and Jimmy's career exploits. The lyrical banality and jokey self-reference was not overlooked by contemporary critics, who nonetheless hailed this recording as a perfect pop confection. The ice cream van on the single cover makes a certain amount of sense: this song is sweet, enjoyable and filling - if ultimately lacking in nutrition and potentially stomach-ache-inducing.

    Tammy sings two verses, one that is based on the original "Hey Hey We are Not the Monkees" verse but modified to include an ice cream van and a self-reference about the KLF telephoning her at her Tennessee home. She sings a second verse, though, one that is different to the second verse on Black Steel's album version; it is more self-reference, with the big tag line being the unused song title "turn up the strobe" (which at one time would have been Pure Trance 4).

    Wynette's performance is great, full of character and charm. But even without her, "Justified & Ancient (Stand by the JAMS)" is still an excellent concoction, dense and thick with melodic elements. It all comes together so naturally that you'd be forgiven for overlooking how incongruous the component parts truly are: a clanging sound reminiscent of a train crossing, a pedal steel, the KLF's umpteenth Hendrix sample ("Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"), some bright and tangy synth-string lines, a would-be ethnic chant of "Mu Mu Land", and a rap verse by KLF stalwart Ricardo Da Force, wherein he gets out what is surely his greatest aphorism: "Fishing in the rivers of life". The tempo is quick but not overly so, making it more suitable for radio play than for dance club play. Which was the point. This one was intended to be sung on schoolyards and played in shopping centres. It's fully up to the task.

    Justified & Ancient ("The White Room” Version): Could Black Steel's soft-spoken and soft-focus "ice cream van" version of this song been a hit on its own merits? Perhaps not, but it's lovely all the same if a bit of a moment of confusion for any Tammy fans unfamiliar with The White Room album. This track is on the CD single, which maintains a tradition that survived all three "Stadium House" singles of appending the CD release with the older, different-sounding "early version". But it's also the b-side of the 7", where a seven-inch edit of "Make Mine a '99'" exists. Why?

    Justified and Ancient (All Bound for Mu Mu Land) (★★★★): This is less of a "remix" than an "extended version" of the 7" mix, with the main body of the song being almost exactly the same - with, of course, one major difference. Instead of Tammy Wynette, both verse and chorus are sung here by Maxine Harvey. To someone accustomed to the more famous Wynette version, this can at first seem a bit like very slick karaoke: Maxine's vocals are excellent (if strangely thinly recorded) but feel like an impostor or imitator until, of course, she sings the line, "All bound for Mu Mu Land" (which was kept intact from this recording on the Wynette version).

    As could be expected, Maxine doesn't sing the line about Tennessee, instead singing the "apple cart" line common to every other version of the song. She does, however, sing a third verse not available on any other version, another quatrain of self-reference, throwing in the titles of two of their classic singles, the second JAMS album, and even the label name they used before "KLF Communications".

    You get the sense, listening to this, that Bill and Jimmy originally conspired to put Maxine's vocals out on the main version of this single, and that in fact "Justified & Ancient" was merely the fourth installment in their series of older KLF songs redone in a pop-ready format - in other words, that the concept for the single and very likely most of the recording itself was carried out before the idea of including Tammy Wynette was even hatched. Apart from the previously-mentioned steel guitar lines, everything is identical, down to the tiniest little detail (if you carefully line up the two mixes, you can spontaneously create a Tammy and Maxine duet).

    The extra minutes don't do a whole lot more: Ricardo's verse shows up twice, a breakdown includes a quick little Scott Piering-narration (as was becoming a KLF tradition), and Maxine's third verse shows up.

    Justified & Ancient (Make Mine a '99') (★★★★½): The main "alternate remix" of "J&A" is this particular track, remixed by Tony Thorpe rather far from his personal wheelhouse of Jamaican-influenced dance music. This is a surprisingly glitzy deep-house remix, one that you could expect to hear on a Paris catwalk or in a New York ballroom. It's a repetitive four-on-the-floor beat, reduced primarily to one chord. Scott Piering's line of "light years ahead" taken from the narration part of "All Bound for Mu Mu Land" becomes a bit of a theme here, as bits of Maxine's and Ricardo's performances are cut up and mixed up to form new messages. In other words, it's something along the lines of "Last Train to Trancentral (Live from the Lost Continent)", where a continuous series of voice samples turn an instrumental into what passes for a vocal track. However, Ricardo's entire verse shows up late into the track intact, and in fact the arrangement preserves much of the single version's song structure (deconstructed, of course, as dance mixes inevitably are). Tammy is nowhere to be seen, but a harmonica sample adds a bit of flavour. It's a well-executed mix that does not outstay its welcome, but dear God is it a long way removed from the art-terror mix-and-match sample-and-scratch of the primitive 1987 original.

    Justified & Ancient (Make Mine a '99' - edit) (★★★★): It's shorter, little more than three minutes long. It seems less glitzy somehow.

    Justified & Ancient (Let Them Eat Ice Cream) (★★★★½): This is effectively an instrumental version of "Make Mine a '99'", meaning that even the skeletal voice samples are gone, leaving largely the deep house groove and the drop-ins from the single version (meaning really that this is the Paris catwalk mix). With the voices gone, perhaps it's easier to see the familial relation between these remixes and the main single version. But this is still far from an instrumental version of the single (which is also a thing that exists), and I suppose if you were compiling a "Pure Trance" version of all of their singles, this'd be your go-to for "Justified & Ancient".

    Justified & Ancient (Stand by the JAMS - 12" version) (★★★★½): Having suffered through the elaborate prank of "America: What Time is Love", Arista was surely already at the end of their tether with Bill and Jimmy's eccentricities and probably weren't too keen on the idea that the single version, sung by a different singer than the album version, would be released with a 12" remix sing by a different person still. All the same, the USA got the same Maxine-led 12" as the UK and, seemingly, the rest of the world, but Arista put out a CD single that relegated Maxine to track four and held a five-and-a-half-minute "12" version" of the Wynette-led a-side. Despite the name, this mix didn't get commercial release on a 12" in any market, showing up in the UK only on the white-label promo CHOC ICE 2. It is a minute and a half shorter than "All Bound for Mu Mu Land" due to the third verse and the second iteration of Ricardo's verse both being eliminated, but otherwise it's exactly the same as that mix except with the lead vocalists switched. Scott Piering's narration is also present, making this perhaps the ideal version of the song for people who want to hear just one.

    Justified & Ancient (Anti A Capella Mix) (★★★★): That title is, of course, a cuter way of saying "instrumental version" - "instrumental" and "a capella" being opposites in a way. And, yes, that's exactly what this is: more or less the "All Bound for Mu Mu Land" version with Maxine's vocals stripped away and almost all of Ricardo's vocals stripped away. Actually, the steel guitar is present, so call this an instrumental version of "Stand by the JAMS" if you want, though it's in excess of seven minutes. It's all the same in the end. It's interesting to hear this as an instrumental; certain elements stand out more clearly (the Hendrix wah-wah, the synth-strings) and the occasional breakdown is starker without Ricardo calling "bring the beat back" over top. Still, it's just an instrumental version. So, like, big whoop.

    Oh, and Scott Piering's narration is left intact. For some reason or another.
  13. Bolero

    Bolero Forum Resident

    another great informative post.....thanks Bunglejerry!

    I had no idea these guys put out so much stuff, and so many different mixes of things
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  14. -------------------------------------------
    Justified and Ancient (single)
    Great write-up as always. Here’s a few thoughts:

    1. This is the sound of Bill and Jimmy at their commercial zenith. They had the Midas touch at this point and could’ve no doubt ploughed the same furrow for a few more years if they chose to.
    2. The elements and samples are really well integrated e.g. Hendrix, which I didn't notice for years. As always, serendipity played a big factor in the recording. For example, the Zulu chanters came from a track Tony Thorpe was working on concurrently (Zulu Nation?), which B+J decided to incorporate into the J+A mix.
    3. Tammy vocals – re-edits notwithstanding – work better than Maxine’s (I believe Bill was disparaging about Maxine's efforts in 45). Definitely a good choice of collaboration for all concerned and game of Tammy to go along with the ridiculous lyrics. It could easily have backfired and made her look ridiculous (in a bad way)! Good point about the relatively small age gap between Bill and Tammy.
    4. The long version with Maxine on lead vocals is a bit of a drag. Weird that they repeat the rapping section. Of course repeating a sung verse is quite normal, by seems really lazy in rap music - maybe because it's obviously replayed and undermines the rapper's implicit braggadocio - and I can’t think of another example of the top of my head.
    5. The best mix is probably the 12” version i.e. with Tammy and Scott Piering – assuming you like the song of course! There’s a mix of the long Maxine version on the Japanese compilation Mu which I believe is down-shifted half a note for some reason. This is the one I have – unusual, but definitely not the best version (see above).
    6. The UK release of J+A after the Stadium House trilogy makes perfect sense - a bit of a breather following its frenetic predecessors. I didn’t know that America WTIL preceded J+A in terms of recording and release (in the US) until many years later. I don’t think this schedule would’ve worked in the UK – another version of WTIL straight away may have provoked a premature media – and perhaps public – backlash. As it happened, in conjunction with the limited edition 3AM TOTP release and Brits performance, the later release of the thrash metal America: WTIL made perfect sense and the UK media got on board one last time…
    7. These days Jimmy largely dismisses the KLF’s musical legacy, with the exception of the J+A single, which he considers the only track to have stood the test of time – mainly because it still gets played regularly on UK radio (no doubt boosting the Cauty coffers in the process…). There’s a certain “pop purist” logic to this, though Chill Out’s influence on underground electronic music shouldn’t be underestimated. And I’m sure 3AM gets some airplay too. So probably just Jimmy being contrary (perish the thought...)
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  15. BungleJerry - would be great to hear your thoughts on the 3AM thrash version, which I believe was sold by mail order limited to 2,000. "Greb metal" was a great description!
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  16. Hermetech Mastering

    Hermetech Mastering Vortextual Waveform Projection

    Paris, France
    Hopefully that ones coming next! I only picked up my copy a couple of years ago.
  17. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    About the American release of A:WTIL?, though this is a bit of a spoiler issue, Arista didn't see A:WTIL? as a different single release, they merely saw it as another remix of "Live at Trancentral". It's all a bit mixed up Stateside: TVT put out "Pure Trance", and first of all Wax Trax! put out "Live at Trancentral" before Arista licensed it. But Arista tentatively put out "LAT" in September (with "Build a Fire" on the B) before putting out "America" just one month later. But Arista gave the two releases consecutive serial numbers, and of course the cover of "America" just says "What Time is Love" (and puts LAT and the Moody Boys mixes on the b-side).

    So to the UK, it was two separate releases, separated by about a year, whereas in the US, it was more or less a single release, with an Arista-commissioned remix for the 12".

    I don't think Maxine's vocals are all that bad. The lack of fire is, I'm quite sure, down to the production. As far as I can tell, there's no multitracking or even reverb on her voice, which leaves it thin and characterless. The problem, of course, is that the down-home feel Tammy brings contrasts perfectly with the bombastic self-regard of the lyrics. Maxine's performance this lacks the resultant irony.

    I mentioned you could sync the two songs up to create a duet: after I wrote that, I tried it, and it really does work well, with a feel kind of like Prince's "Pop Life" with its comically loose double-tracking. They perform the melodies differently, so they weave from unison to harmony, but it's an interesting "third version".

    Oh, it's coming! I consider it to be the last KLF Communications release (arguably, that's the "The Rights of Mu" video, but meh). There's just two things left: A:WTIL and the thrash 3AM.
  18. Kit B

    Kit B New Member

    Not really that surprising in 1991! It's massively likely that Lee's KLF parts were all recorded while he was in the UK, and I've always suspected that in fact they were leftovers from The Man sessions.
    bunglejerry likes this.
  19. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Help! Does anyone have a UK 12" of "America: What Time is Love"? If so, is its matrix number KLF USA 4T or KLF USA 4X? And is it the 9-minute "uncensored" version or a seven-and-a-half mix about which I know nothing and can't find out there anywhere?
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  20. Hermetech Mastering

    Hermetech Mastering Vortextual Waveform Projection

    Paris, France
    I have it. Catalogue number is KLF USA 4X. Bought it the day it came out. No info on the cover or label about timings. If I get a chance to spin it later, I'll time them.



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  21. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Cheers. 4X ought to be 7 1/2 minutes long. I'm wondering what minute and a half got cut out.

    Also wondering why the main 12" mix is apparently so hard to find online!
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  22. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter


    AMERICA: WHAT TIME IS LOVE (February 1992)

    The following story is entirely made up:

    In the summer of 1991, having released The White Room and some attendant singles, Arista in the USA were unsure what to do with "What Time is Love". They had issued the "Live at Trancentral" version to radio, and reception had been lukewarm. "But it was a success in the UK", they said. But what label was better than Arista in converting European tastes to American tastes? Who but Arista had transformed Milli Vanilli's successful European album All or Nothing into the globe-straddling phenomenon of Girl You Know It's True? Who but Arista would, in one year, take the middling Europop album Happy Nation and transform it into Ace of Base's multi-million-selling The Sign?

    So Clive Davis calls up Bill and Jimmy. Waves an advance in front of them and asks them to go back to the studio to recut "What Time is Love" with America in mind.

    Compulsively unable to distinguish between the voices of their superegos (saying that acceding to Arista's demands was contractually prudent) and the voices of their ids (saying that it was preposterous to "Americanise" a house song and that the very request should be mocked), and yet consistently keen to take up interesting challenges, Bill and Jimmy brainstormed everything that came into their head when they thought "America", used the piles of dosh laying at their feet to make it happen, and churlishly sent the resultant track across the pond to their American paymasters, who confusedly put out the resulting record, realising they'd been had.

    I have no idea whether the aforementioned tale is true. But it seems true to me, and for a song steeped in mythology, who needs facts?

    Arista put out "America: What Time is Love?" in October. Bill and Jimmy held out, pursuing other rabbits down other holes. Having decided to explode in magnificent fashion, Bill and Jimmy went to the British music awards programme in February 1992 and belted out their number-one hit together with a thrash metal band before declaring they had left the music business. The 1992 Brits were, of course, their second most infamous move, and much can be written about it. For our purposes, it's important to note that merely two weeks after this very public "retirement", KLF Communications released this track, complete with new b-side "America No More", into shops. Thus, it served as the band's closing salvo, at least in the UK. And what a way to go out.

    In the early days of the JAMS, Bill and Jimmy claimed that they intended to record an album-length cover of the album Deep Purple in Rock. Surely that threat was meant only as literally as any of a dozen others, but Deep Purple was in their mind when they went searching for a heavy metal screamer to record the all-American version of their hit song. One of six people to, at various times, bear the mantle of "Deep Purple singer", Glenn Hughes stuck with them through three albums until their 1975 break-up, and by 1991 was struggling to keep a journeyman singing career alive through the haze of alcohol and drug addiction. His vocal is pretty amazing - powerful and silly in a retro 70s metal way. He gamely showed up in the video as well, shrieking on a Viking longboat in the pouring rain alongside Isaac Bello in a rain jacket, Jimmy and Bill in armoured headgear, Cressida topless but for strategically-placed electrical tape, a drummer, and rows of rowers. He later claimed that it was the experience of appearing in this track that caused him to get clean, and he claimed to continue performing this song alongside his old Deep Purple classics when out on tour. God bless him.

    Designed for an American audience though it may be, "America: What Time is Love" was a sizeable hit during the KLF's chart reign, hitting #4 for two weeks - one position higher than "Live at Trancentral". The US mixes on Arista are not the same, but even ignoring them, the release schedule in the UK was as chaotic as for other KLF releases: a seven-inch, KLF USA 4, and a cassingle, KLF USA 4C, held the surprisingly brief radio edit of "America: What Time is Love" along with the full-length "America No More" on the b-side. The chief commercial 12", KLF USA 4X, held a seven and a half minute version of "America" with no subtitle, which I cannot find on Youtube and know nothing about, with the standard "America No More" on the b-side. Wikipedia and the principal online KLF discography both list a commercial release, KLF USA 4T, with the 9-minute "Uncensored" version of "America" alongside the standard "America No More", but I see no evidence of this single actually existing. The CD single, KLF USA 4CD, is the main reference point for this release, containing the radio edit of "America", the standard "America No More", the "uncensored" version of "America", and as a fourth track "America No More (Just the Pipe Band)". Three promo 12"s to discuss are as follows: KLF 92 PROMO 1, which features a unique five-and-a-half-minute "promo edit" of "America" alongside the standard "America No More"; KLF 92 PROMO 2, which features the interesting "January: What TIme is Love" and has no b-side, and the dubious KLF 92 PROMO 3, which features "What Time is Love (Acid Mix)".

    I am not including the Acid Mix primarily because I doubt its provenance. It could fit in just fine on "The 'What Time is Love' Story" frankly and has all the hallmarks of a fan-made mix to me. The bagpipe sample, quite well-done on its own merits, is the probable reason to link this mix to the release at hand, but it is an entirely different kettle of fish. But I can't see Jimmy and Bill putting together something like this at the end of their career together.

    America: What Time is Love: I have never heard this track and so I can’t comment on it.

    America: What Time is Love (Uncensored) (★★★★★): The journey from the extreme minimalism of the "Pure Trance" original version of "What Time is Love" to the extreme over-the-top maximalism of this version is a long and winding one (one that actually continued to a fourth installment in 1997 called "***k the Millennium"; thankfully I needn't trouble you with that post-retirement track). The duo that jokingly asserted on their debut single that you can "remix" one song until it's a completely different song altogether are now proving it five years later; the three-note anthem of the original is only audible during brief breakdowns; otherwise it's utterly buried beneath an avalanche of sound.

    The "Illuminatus!" mythology and Discordian notions that underpin the KLF's work are, thankfully, easy to overlook. I've personally never felt compelled to explore them in any real detail, leaving the esoteric references as merely another level of nonsense in their lyrical body of work. Yet it's a bit unavoidable here: the "Justified Ancients of Mu Mu" referred to in Scott Piering's amusingly overdramatic introductory monologue are not Bill and Jimmy, who are not 1,000 years old. To the sound of a Viking Gjallarhorn (or rather an electronic replica) and chanting male voices, Piering draws a picture of a mythical Medieval JAMS discovering America in the year 992.

    When the song bursts through from this tongue-in-cheek intro, it's a holy hell of a noise impossible not to be awed at: layers of guitars (most prominently a sample of the riff from Motorhead's "Ace of Spades") and Glenn Hughes' epic heavy-metal screech, but over top of a light-footed rave backdrop that makes the result not seem like heavy metal at all but a powerful kind of dance music. The all-male choir alternates between singing either the kind of nonsense that's probably meant to evoke rowers on a longship or otherwise the word "America" sung to the tune of the old Hippie anthem "Aquarius" (the composers of Hair are not credited). Back from wherever he went, Isaac Bello, the rapper on “Live at Trancentral”, is given three verses - his lengthiest contribution to any KLF song and more than Ricardo ever got - referencing the silly mythological conceit of the track but only in passing, and also making no more than a passing reference to his original verses from the "Live at Trancentral" version of this song. Even Wanda Dee is here, but way in the background, far behind Hughes' shrieking of her lines.

    A fantastic mess of a song, it somehow manages to stay on this side of total insanity... at least until the song breaks down to a lengthy quasi-orchestral part (with neither metal nor rave influences) where the massive choir singing "America" just gets larger and larger until the song-proper comes back with a vengeance, and Hughes takes the song into overdrive, singing without a hint of irony, "be young, be free, the American way" and reeling off a list of 32 American place names (mostly cities, but with a few states stuck in there - don't blame them; they're English) before letting the song break down with a perfectly Spinal Tap "Goodnight America, we loooooove you!"

    So much of the song is a p*ss-take, a joke about over-the-top American and rockist cliches. A very important part of that joke, what stops it from merely being novelty parody, is Hughes' utter conviction, which never for a moment seems less than total. The Wagnerian feel of the whole song evokes nothing more than Jim Steinman and his productions for Meat Loaf and others, another artist whose material is actually redeemed by his singers' utter faith in the ridiculous words they are singing. The disparity between, and interconnectedness of, sublime and ridiculous has always been an important element in Drummond and Cauty's work. God knows this recording is truly and utterly ridiculous. And yet somehow it is also sublime.

    America No More (★★★★★): "America No More" is allegedly the last track Bill and Jimmy recorded together before their "retirement", though how to square that with the work they were doing with Extreme Noise Terror, I don't know. Let's call it the last commercially-released track they recorded together under the KLF name. More amazingly, in fact, it was their final new composition as a duo. In 1991, the KLF's annus mirabilis, they managed not to release a single new composition, instead reworking existing material all year long. With the exception of "It's Grim Up North", you actually have to go all the way back to Chill Out in February 1990 to find new compositions by Drummond / Cauty. But "America No More" was indeed something new. And rather amazingly, a b-side for a band that never otherwise had a true b-side in the entirety of their career ("Uptight (Everything's Alright) has one, but it's a Disco 2000 song).

    A gorgeous, emotional and sombre reflection on war, "America No More" is unlike anything else in the KLF's oeuvre, certainly in that the instruments are not electronic and the composition has nothing to do with dance music. It is a sound painting, a collage of war sounds (helicopters, explosions) layered with a constant progression of voices, either documentary narrators or real statements from American people on the topic of war. The first third of the song presents a quick history of the United States' involvement in global war, starting with the voice of John F. Kennedy. A reflective melody is played on a guitar (the single cover claims a Gibson 330, a hollow-bodied electric guitar; the cover also attributes it to Drummond). As the guitar line ends, the synthesised drone that has been carrying the guitar part also fades out, and part two begins, the same melody played on a single bagpipe.

    As the bagpipe part begins, the voices begin to speak only about the USA-Iraq war frequently called the "Gulf War" that raged during the presidency of George H.W. Bush and was precipitated, as the samples attest, by Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. The voices are not merely soundbites; some of them are quite lengthy quotations that allow their speakers to make a particular point. Certain religious commentary tries to provide a religious context for the war, a rather frightening comment speaks of the American desire for a quick and definitive victory, comparing war to sport and elections.

    The solo bagpipe verse is, so the internet claims, played by a certain Jim Caution. A claim is made that he made up the tune on the spot; if this is so, he certainly deserves co-composition status, since the same melody is played by Drummond at the beginning and played again in part three. It is a beautiful melody, similar to all other bagpipe melodies but evocative in its own right as well.

    The crescendo comes in the third part, when Caution is joined by five other pipers and two drum players to repeat the verse a final time en masse. The intensity rises as the quotations become more disturbing. The whole thing is extremely emotional and haunting. A bagpipe is a battle instrument, and warriors in Drummond's native Scotland went to die in Scottish fields to the accompaniment of its comforting drone for centuries. The Americans didn't in Iraq, but there is still a sense of history repeating, pointlessly. As it ever was, as it ever shall be.

    The bagpipes end more than a minute before the song does, and the collage of voices and war noises takes centre stage. The helicopter in particular is stunning if played with good speakers. Bombs zip from speaker to speaker, Jesus's name is evoked and... the whole track ends. Not with a bang but with a whimper. Unlike the KLF's career, a different kind of battle.

    America: What Time is Love (Radio Edit) (★★★★½): It seems like an impossible feat to boil the entire epic suite that is the full-length version of this song into a mere three and a half minutes, but somehow this radio edit does, seemingly losing next to nothing and maintaining both the level of excitement and, somehow, the pomp of the longer version. Personally, I need my full nine minutes or it's no good for me, but I can appreciate the craft that went into the creation of this radio edit.

    America No More (Just the Pipe Band) (★★★½): Well, that’s an outright lie: it's just the pipe band and an underlying synth pad - not the actual drones of the five bagpipes, but a spacey synthetic one that sits on two different notes, almost like a chord pattern.

    This is what I wish "Jerusalem on the Moors" had been: mere studio verite, completely decontextualised and put out there for mere consideration. It's an interesting artefact, but it's also quite stirring on its own. Not as stirring as the proper version, but you can play this for your granny and she'll find it just lovely.

    America: What Time is Love (Promo Edit) (★★★★½): Shorter than the long version, longer than the short version. That's all I have to say.

    Actually, let me add: shorter than the 12" version I mentioned above, shorter than the US 12" version but longer than the US 7" version. And longer than the version used in the video, which is none of the above. Excluding "January", that makes seven edits of this song that differ in length but not otherwise in content. May God have mercy.

    January: What Time is Love (★★★★★): Seemingly a gimmicky attempt to get some seasonal airplay for their soon-to-be-released single (the promo was released two months after the Arista release and two months before the KLF Communications release), the first minute and a half of this recording features, in place of Scott Piering's narration, the pipe band from "America No More" playing two verses and two refrains of "Auld Lang Syne", the Scottish evergreen New Years' Eve chestnut (which of course had already appeared, sung, on the Who Killed the JAMS? album).

    The metal/rave song bursts into glorious noise out of nowhere just as the commercial 12" version, but after his initial scream Glenn Hughes is nowhere to be found for the duration of this track (actually his scream is present a second time later on). It's not exactly an instrumental: Ricardo's three verses are all intact. But until the final minute or so of the track, the choir is also absent, removing all references to America and leaving this song not explicitly Americocentric (until that last minute, of course).

    Glenn Hughes in his pomp takes up a lot of aural space, as does the choir, so in their absence the layers of guitar and the song's propulsive groove are more audible. The craft of the song is laid bare, and it is slightly less ridiculous. Whatever the point of the "January" version might be, it's a valuable listening experience for that very reason.
  23. kyodo_dom

    kyodo_dom Forum Resident

    Tremendous stuff @bunglejerry. :tiphat:

    All my JAMs/KLF vinyl is in the UK, but your thread (and the great contributions of others, esp. @Crumpled Enchanter, - thanks to you all too!) has made me determined to enjoy a full-on B&J trip at some point during the winter holidays, when I'll be back over there. I wish there was a way to edit this entire thread into some kind of eBook or PDF. It's one hell of a resource, even given the "proper" B&J-related books that have been published.
    Bolero and bunglejerry like this.
  24. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I have a terribly bad habit of dropping balls at the eleventh hour. I haven't forgotten that I've got one song left to go (and a postscript). I've just been putting it off.
    Hermetech Mastering likes this.
  25. Hermetech Mastering

    Hermetech Mastering Vortextual Waveform Projection

    Paris, France
    No hurries here, as and when you have the time and inclination!
    Dan Steely likes this.

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