The Return of The KLF- Library of Mu

Library of Mu record:
Title: The Return of The KLF
Date: October 1997
Journal: Sky
Author: Mark Frith
Type of resource: Features
Status: text
No. views: 7636
Description: generic return of the KLF news feature full of mistakes, with some details about Jeremy Dellar/Acid Brass

The Return of The KLF

By Mark Frith (October 1997, Sky)

They were revered by clubbers, worshipped by pop fans and idolised by indie kids. They had number one records, won Brit awards and made Top Of The Pops watchable at a time when no one did. For two whole years a couple of middle-aged men made consistently brilliant records. And then...nothing.

Until now.


The full inside story of the musical comeback of the year. By Mark Frith.

If any year needed a KLF-style kick up the arse it's this one. OK, so you probably won't find a better year for major album releases and all of them - Radiohead, Oasis, The Verve, Prodigy - are fantastically accomplished products. But that's only half of what music is about.

The other half is about musical events. No, we don't mean festivals on airport runways. We're on about people putting on extravaganzas, doing something that means they're the talk of a nation for months after. Costumes, casts of thousands, you know the deal. The sort of thing that your first memory of music is based on, the things you'll always remember. So, like I say, it's a good job the KLF are back, isn't it?

These days the KLF go under the name of 2K but the deal is pretty much the same. The two people behind it haven't changed: Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty. And with consistently-brilliant creative minds like those at work, you can't go far wrong.

But these are two people who said they'd never make a record again, who dramatically quit the music business as they marched off stage at the 1992 Brit Awards and who showed their lack of regard for their ill-gotten fortune by burning most of it - one million pounds to be precise - on a remote Scottish island. But we're not going to tell that story. No, this is the story of how Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty were tempted back into the record shops. This is also the story of what looks like being the most dramatic musical comeback of the decade...

Mick Houghton, the KLF's publicist, has worked with Drummond and Cauty for all of their 10 years together. He was the man left to explain to the press why they killed that sheep and dumped it outside the Brit Awards party and why they burnt a million quid when there are thousands of charities that would have given a lorryload of collecting tins for it. He should, by rights, be stricken by nervous convulsions whenever Drummond or Cauty's names are mentioned, but instead he's brimming with delight because today, Friday 15 August, he is able to play to someone other than himself the new KLF/2K single. "I thought they'd do something this year. It's their 10th anniversary and they'd thought about a box set or a greatest hits but this is far more them. And there's only so long you can keep it to yourself," he says walking over to the stereo. "It's just too exciting to keep a secret." He presses play.

It is the best record they've ever made

Both Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty believe it is the best record they've ever made. When Drummond heard it played back for the first time it reduced him to tears...

As soon as it starts you immediately remember the excitement that comes from hearing a KLF record for the first time. The original ambient house melody kicks in - and it hasn't dated a day. The chorus is given an extra kick by Acid Brass' massed ranks of horns and trumpets. A lone Scottish voice screams throughout: "Fuck the millennium - we want it now," before giving way to: "For those in peril on the sea," sung by a male voice choir. It is quite brilliant.

So why did it all happen then? Why did two confirmed music-biz haters decide to make another record. And why this one? Fuck The Millennium is great, but then KLF have always been great. That's not the enigma. The enigma is them actually going out and doing something.

This Drummond/Cauty record was born for the same reason every other Drummond/Cauty record was born: curiosity for something new.

In late February this year, Drummond got a phonecall from Jayne Casey - a fellow member (along with Holly Johnson and Lightning Seed lan Broudie) of his early 8Os band Big In Japan. It was Casey's job to choose who should appear at an arts festival in her home city of Liverpool. One of the candidates was a 40-piece brass band called Acid Brass which played versions of house records. She thought Drummond might be amused that one of the songs was the KLF's What Time Is Love. He was more than amused. He was thoroughly intrigued.

Despite having no involvement in music at all for a few years, Drummond went to see the band play in Liverpool and was blown away by what he saw. The band played horn-laden versions of 808 State's Pacific State and Royal House's Can You Party before blasting out a euphoric version of What Time Is Love as their encore. Halfway through the song Drummond delved into his bag for his mobile phone and called his former musical collaborator. "Jimmy," he yelled. "Listen to this."

Next, Drummond asked Acid Brass organiser Jeremy Dellar if he could meet the group. He came along to rehearsals and chatted to them. "Unlike a lot of brass bands, this lot are young and in their 20s," says Dellar. "They were just over the moon to meet the composer of one of the songs they were playing." And what did Drummond get in return? 'it fired his imagination."

Acid Brass were over the moon

"Acid Brass were over the moon to meet the composer of one of the songs."

And what did Drummond get in return? "It fired his imagination."

It fired his imagination

It was at this point that Drummond decided the KLF should be brought out of retirement to make a record - a collaboration between the KLF and Acid Brass, pro visionally titled Jeremy Dellar Joins The JAMS. Now all he had to do was convince Jimmy Cauty.

On 19 April Acid Brass played a gig at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall. By now they were getting very well known in cool London circles. A CD of the Liverpool gig was released and the band picked up so much interest that they could easily fill the venue. Björk was there and so were Drummond and Cauty. And Cauty was as blown away as Drummond.

In June, Drummond and Cauty entered the studio with Acid Brass and the track was born. The song features many of the KLF's trademarks - the shouting of the Justified And Ancient chant and an arrangement of a traditional English hymn (for Those In Peril On The Sea). Jeremy Dellar was invited to hear it on the last day of recording. "They sat me down between two speakers the size of doors - it was quite brilliant. " Drummond and Cauty truly believe it is the best record they've ever made. In fact, when Drummond heard it back for the first time it reduced him to tears.

For the next month or so this one record will make all the others on the radio seem rather tame. If it's played that is. Chumbawamba may have been able to get away with singing, 'Pissing the night away," and Auntie Beeb may have just about been able to stomach The Verve's Drugs Don't Work, but a shouty Scot bellowing; "Fuck the Millennium," is maybe too much.

But censorship, or maybe an early release for the new Spice Girls single, is probably all that can stop Fuck The Millennium getting to No 1. "I wouldn't even be worried if Oasis released a record that week, " says Dellar, "I think we could beat them." The charts have suddenly got exciting again.

But don't get used to it. After their incredible one-off performance last week in London, 2K have already disbanded - save for maybe one Top Of The Pops performance in two weeks' time, if it gets to the top spot. After that Drummond and Cauty will retire and we'll be counting the days until the next musical kick up the arse.

Pray that they don't keep it so long this time.

This Is What The KLF Is About

A brief history of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty

1987 Former band manager Bill Drummond and musician/artist Jimmy Cauty form a band called The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu (the JAMs for short). They become notorious for sampling other bands without their say-so and daubing their slogans on billboards. They release two LPs, one of which is called 1987 (What The Fuck Is Going On?).

The Timelords

1988 Drummond and Cauty form a band called The Timelords and release a single called Doctorin' The Tardis. It makes No 1.

1989 The pair play raves as the KLF.


1991 After a top five hit with What Time Is Love the year before, the KLF reach No 1 with 3am Eternal. As the JAMs, they have a top 10 single with It's Grim Up North.

1992 The KLF win Best Band at the Brit Awards and send a motorcycle courier to collect their award. At the post awards party they leave a dead sheep outside the main door. That evening they also announce that they have left the music business.

1993 Using a large amount of their earnings from the KLF, Drummond and Cauty form a mysterious organisation called The K Foundation. On the night that Rachel Whiteread is announced as the winner of the Turner Art Prize, they announce that she has also won their prize for the worst piece of art that year. Their prize? #40,000.

The K Foundation

1994 The K Foundation cause outrage by burning a million pounds on a remote Scottish island. The event is filmed and is still occasionally shown in UK cinemas.

1997 2K release Fuck The Millennium on 22 September.


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