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By Robert Webb (03 November, 2000, The Independent)
The Independent's Guide To Pop's Unlikeliest Collaborations
PERHAPS THE oddest modern-day pop pairing. The avant-garde all- rounders Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty - aka the KLF, the JAMS and the Timelords - brought in the veteran Country star Tammy Wynette to accompany them on this 1992 dance hit. After an initial discussion with Drummond, Tammy reputedly thought the track was called "Justified and Anxious" until he arrived in Nashville with the tapes. She admitted that it was "one of the craziest things I've ever done in my life".
The song was indeed unorthodox for someone more used to yodelling about marital breakdown. "They're justified and they're ancient/ And they drive an ice-cream van," ran the lyrics. "They called me up in Tennessee/ They said, 'Tammy, stand by the JAMS'/ All bound for Mu Mu Land." For the video, Drummond and Cauty winched her up on to a 50- foot platform, dressed in "a skin-tight turquoise mermaid outfit", as she put it. "And I had this crown on. I don't know what the meaning of that was."
When they appeared on Top of the Pops, the KLF, naturally, came on dressed as giant ice-cream cones. "I know about ice-cream vans," said Tammy, "but I'd never heard of a 99. Bill explained it to me, and now it makes perfect sense."
Tammy seemed genuinely pleased, if bewildered, by the brief encounter. "I really don't know why they chose me. I was apprehensive at first, but I'm really excited with the way it's all turned out."
So she should've been. The song was her biggest British hit since "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" in the mid-Seventies. It was a diversion rather than a change of direction, though. "Mu Mu Land looks a lot more interesting than Tennessee," Tammy reckoned. "But I wouldn't want to live there."
The surprise hit did nobody's career any harm. Afterward, the KLF claimed they were plagued by scores of artists down on their luck, pleading for a career-reviving collaboration. "I was in the studio," recalled the engineer/producer Mark Stent, "and we had Neil Sedaka phoning up; we had Sweet phoning up. We had all kinds phoning up." Neil Sedaka and the Sweet. Now there's a thought.
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