TATE TAT AND ARTY- Library of Mu

Library of Mu record:
Date: 20 November, 1993
Journal: NME
Author: ?
Type of resource: Articles
Status: original
No. views: 8048
Description: Art award preview with lots of analysis of the career of Bill Drummond


By ? (20 November, 1993, NME)

Deed sheep, crutches, a tardis, billboard sabotage and now a UKP40,000 prize offered to the year's most appalling work of art. Yes it's another bonkers 'scam' from KLF-ers BILL DRUMMOND and JIMMY CAUTY - this time as the K FOUNDATION. DAVID QUANTICK gives three cheers for situationist art terrorism genius!

On Tuesday November 23, the K Foundation - aka Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty of The KLF, Justifled Ancients Of Mu Mu and The Timelords - will have an advert shown on Channel 4 midway through the Turner art award ceremony.

No one will say what it contains, other than that the K Foundation will announce the name of the person they deem to be the worst entrant for the Turner Prize, and give them UKP40,000. "Why is the K Foundatian so much more sexy than any other art foundations?" asks one ad. "Is UKP40,000 enough?"

The art world sneers - one critic said the K Foundation offer merely "replicates the grammar of the Turner award" and, in effect only exists as a parody of one award, rather than as a broad statement - and the mainstream press seem to regard the whole thing as an expensive plug for a record by a dance group.

But you and I know better. We know Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty aim to change the world. They are, after all, the only band ever to have a string of massive hit records including two Number Ones, write a book about how to have a Number One, and then retire from music.

The question we may profitably ask as we lounge on our sofas is - why? In the inevitable words of the JAMMS - what the fuck is going on?

Myself, I blame Bill Drummond... "Once upon a time, in a land far, far away..." - Lori & The Chameleons, 'Touch

THE FIRST time I came across Bill Drummond was in print, 14 odd years ago. Drummond and Dave Balfe were running a tiny Liverpool indie label called Zoo - Drummond had played in Zoo band Big In Japan with Holly Johnson, while Balfe was keyboard bloke in The Teardrop Explodes, also on Zoo - and they had plans. There was much talk of pop and rock, world domination and the indie ethic. Drummond and Balfe brought out the Teardrops, called themselves The Chameleons to record the pre- Saint Etienne ethereal disco of Lori And The Chameleons and produce Echo And The Bunnymen's debut album.

The subsequent Zoo story was a mad visionary thing, an epic tale that made the Factory story look mundane. In five years, Zoo released extraordinary records by the Bunnymen and the Teardrops, organised mad days out in Liverpool, turned lan McCulloch into Jim Morrison and Julian Cope into Scott Walker and, most memorably, sent the Bunnymen on a tour of bizarre and apparently random sites, including the Northern Isles. "It's not random," said Drummond, speaking as the Bunnymen's manager. "If you look at a map of the world, the whole tour's in the shape of a rabbit's ears."

That was when we knew Bill Drummond was not as other men. When Zoo fell apart, Drummond went to A&R for WEA, signing Zodiac Mindwarp and persuading Pete Waterman to produce Brilliant, a band featuring Killing Joke associate Jimmy Cauty. Brilliant never made it, WEA were a reputed UKP500,000 up the creek and Drummond left.

In 1986 I was sent to interview Bill Drummond for NME. Drummond was supposed to be promoting his debut album, 'The Man', a country rock LP on Creation recorded with members of The Triffids and featuring songs about lan McCulloch and Julian Cope (most notably the great 'Julian Cope Is Dead'), a poem read by Drummond's father. and a cover of the '60s song 'Goin' Back'. It was, and is, a strange and often Iyrical pop record; but Bill decided he would talk about a new project.

So we went up a country lane where Drummond, wearing a donkey jacket and pushing a rubbish cart, delivered a speech about how he could transform a band's life if you sent him UKP100. He was being filmed by his collaborator Bill Budd and intended to sell the result as an advice guide. "No remixes,' he advised.

The next time I met Bill Drummond I was in a room with him and lan McCulloch. McCulloch had just released his second solo LP and was every inch the rock god we love him for being; Bill Drummond was enjoying his second Number One single with The KLF and was sat on the floor in the same donkey jacket, wearing NHS specs and reminiscing about building the M3. He was going to see Right Said Fred that night, and talked about that rather than the forthcoming Extreme Noise Terror/KLF version of '3am Eternal'.

BILL DRUMMOND'S career is like no other. We can't underestimate the importance of Jimmy Cauty, who is The KLF as much as Drummond, but one suspects that the real boiling genius of the duo is initiated by Drummond. The elements of the K Foundation affair are classic Drummond - honesty mixed with deranged publicity-seeking, pop terrorism ideas mixed with utter strangeness and mysticism ("Who has hidden the agenda?" asks one advert), and a sense that the things pop groups do should be visionary and above all should not be mundane.

The campaign mirrors Drummond's interest in the truthful and the cynical. His managerial video talks about idealism and its limits "I joined CND: they didn't ban the bomb.") and about the realities of pop. It talks about lawyers and advances and studios, but its central thrust is the bankruptcy of pop and how it must be stopped. It ends, "Before you say 'don't', this papa ain't gonna stop, because I believe in rock'n'roll."

Throughout Drummond's career, there's been cynicism (discussing the sheer naked pop efrontery of 'Doctorin' The Tardis' in The Manual, the authors note that they would have made much more money if they had called the single 'Doctor Who' so people would remember the title more easily) and there's been care (no one who didn't love pop music could have made a record so commercial and so Pet Shop Boys-lovely as 'Kylie Said To Jason', or the madly wonderful 'Last Train To Transcentral', or the Tammy Wynette version of 'Justifled And Ancient'). There's been mysticism, fron Drummond's insistence that the Bunnyman of Echo And The Bunnymen was a Norse god, the trips to the remote islands of Scotland with a variety of acts, to the pilfering of Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus trilogy for ideas (like the name 'Justified Ancients', the 'Woodstock Europa' idea and others). But most of all. there's been a belief that, both in music and life, there's something more.

THAT IDEA of something more has moved many people before, of course. U2 attempted to come to grips with being a stadium rock band who had somethlng to say and failed; for all their self-parodies, jokes and flashing images of Nuremberg rallies, they still remain a plain stadium rock band. Punk rock purported to change the world, but couldn't even get rid of Genesls.

Many have tried, and they've all bloody failed, time and time again.

What's unique about Drummond and Cauty is the way that, under all the slogans and the sampling and the smart hits and the dead sheep and the costumes, they appear not only to care, but to have some idea of how to achieve what they want.

The nearest parallel to the K Foundation donation would be The Beatles' grandiose plans for Apple Corps; but where Apple handed out money willy-nilly to little end and failed to achieve anything more than get some hippies stoned and put up some nice posters about war being over if you want it, Drummond and Cauty have found a specific target - the relationship between art, money and the critical establishment- and attacked it. By actually offering UKP40,000 to the artist who produces the duffest piece of work, they've simultaneously sent up the whole thing and proved their integrity the hard way.

Drummond has hit his targets nearly every time, becoming better at it as he goes; ' 1987 - What The F--Is Going On?' is the best comment on sampling culture ever made, The Timelords single the funniest attack on pop, The KLF the best use of singles and success, and the retirement of the latter a glorious slap in the face.

Cauty and Drummond have, at every turn, taken an issue, mocked it, beaten it at its own game, and then walked away laughing. They may be situationist art terrorists, they may be idealists, they may just be potty. but one thing is undeniable; no one in this lark has ever been more intelligent, no one funnier and no one ever better to question the absurdity of our friend, Modern Life.

God bless the K Foundation. They are, as ever, completely justified in what they do.

Research greatly aided by Pete Robinson's Justified And Ancient History, c/o S7 Maple Drive, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 3UR

Inset: STAND BY YOUR SCAM MAD-DOG DRUMMOND'S TOP FIVE PROJECTS THAT NEVER HAPPENED 1 Chain-sawing an elephant's legs off during the Brit Awards 2 The incredibly costly but unluckily mind-numbingly dull movie The White Room 3 Deep Shit graphic novel and seven-inch flexi disc 4 Full-scale Extreme Noise Terror vs KLF world tour 5 'The JAMMS in Deep Purple' album

Pictures: Drummond in cop's uniform with goat's skull (inset K Cera Cera ad) - 'Ongoing Situationist: Bill Drummond'

Smiling buisnessman with briefcase of lots of money in front of two rusty-pink armoured cars with K logo's on the side (inset the Serious Direct Action ad) - 'The KLF's bank manager, yesterday'

The Galaxy custom V8 Ford circa Doctorin' The Tardis: 'The only pop star car to ever make it to Number One'


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