Library of Mu record:
Date: 09 November, 1996
Journal: NME
Author: Mark Manning
Type of resource: Articles
Status: text
No. views: 1925
Description: Will surely be included as appendix 2 in future editions of Bad Wisdom - Manning's tale of the recording of the soundtrack for the book, in similar style.


By Mark Manning (09 November, 1996, NME)

What possessed ex-KLF mastermind BILL DRUMMOND and hairy '80s rocker ZODIAC MINDWARP to take Elvis to the North Pole? Zodiac's alter ego MARK MANNING tells the story of the recording of the soundtrack of the book of a crazy rock'n'roll trip.

Somewhere down the spiralling insanity that is my excuse for a life, I collided into Bill Drummond. He is the only person I have ever met with similar complications, delusions and inadequacies to myself. We made records and sent each other raving, drooling letters.

During the maelstrom of our friendship, we decided to visit the North Pole with an icon of Elvis Presley - the Blizzard King. The precise reasons escape me, but it's all in the book we wrote about this ludicrous event, Bad Wisdom. It's a rite of passage book. laying down of childish things kind of thing. It's also a sordid odyssey awash with vodka, broken marriages, psychic overload, bad sex and drugs.

But, not satisfied with merely scrawling our appalling personalities over sheets of A4, we also decided to commit the atrocity to vinyl: a book soundtrack. If films can have soundtracks, why not books? We thought we were brilliant.

We would, of course, record the album in Helsinki...

Flight Y63 to Finland glides from the runway and into the clear blue sky like an excellent drug. The tiny vodkas are flowing.

Bill scurries down the aisle to the small lavatory. Three thoughts occur to me simultaneously: Bill does not smoke, he has borrowed my Swan Vestas...and he has all the float money. I belt down the aisle and kick down the toilet door.

I'm too late. A triumphant grin on his face, a burnt matchstick in hand, Bill has a nice little blaze going in the toilet bowl. Ten thousand quid - charcoal. Five thousand of it was mine. Don't get me wrong - if Bill wants to burn his own money, that's fine by me. The stupid c**t can burn down his house with his wife and kids melting and screaming at the windows for all I care. But five grand of that worthless charred shit was mine. Now, that _does_ piss me off.

I give the Jock a dead arm, a hard punch to the bicep and drag him back to his seat. He is chuckling to himself.

Why does he do these things? The answer is simple: he thinks it impresses women. And in a way he's right. I mean, why do men really do anything at the end of the day if not to secure a mate and our species?

So, to Helsinki and Harald Blatwurst, the president of outlaw Viking motorcycle gang The Mates Of Satan. Harald looks like a pair of women's tights stuffed with monkey nuts. Nobody could say that to his face, though.

Bare-chested, covered in Viking tattoos, Harald is also the lead singer of one of rock music's most closely guarded secrets - the heavy metal Nordic legends, Molten Rock. Molten Rock are the be-all-and-end-all of the power chord, Viking scream and fret-melting solo. They have never recorded. They think studios are for wimps - metal should always be live. They have never been outside the Arctic circle - until now.

The squadron of biker Vikings arrives in Helsinki at midnight. They visit the studio and force the engineer to record their fierce rendition of Led Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song'. It is the best recording of the song ever made. Harald screams victoriously and is heading back to the Arctic circle within the hour. Helsinki releases a collective sigh of relief.

Two am. Finvox studios. The engineer is leaving for a good night's sleep. The incident with Harald Blatwurst, Molten Rock and The Mates Of Satan had totally freaked him out.

His hands shake as he locks the studio door. He drops the keys, ice runs down his spine. It is snowing in the reception lounge. A sonorous voice speaks through the weird indoor snow. The engineer knows who it is instantly and is not afraid.

The mystic legend the Blizzard King is here. The engineer falls to his knees and reaches to kiss the King's hand. To engineer the music of the King is the greatest honour ever. The aurora borealis flickering around his giant frame, the King records two tracks in just under two hours. He play all the instruments himself and then, just as mysteriously as he had appeared, the King is gone. The two songs he leaves behind are Frank Sinatra's 'Strangers In The Night' and Jimmy Morrison's 'Break On Through'.

The recordings are extraordinary, transcendant. Once the session is finished, Bill wastes no time celebrating, and starts burning tenners immediately. It doesn't matter, because we have three of the most perfect recordings in the history of rock'n'roll on our hands.

Bad Wisdom, the soundtrack, has three in the can.


picture of Bill and Z, with the caption: 'The KLF's Bill Drummond and Mark Manning, aka Zodiac Mindwarp: boys will be, er, art terrorists'



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