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Music / The KLF

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"We had to pass the pyramid blaster / the JAMs are here, it's what you've been after."

"As providers of perverse, throwaway, three-minute pop-song manna, though, the KLF were Punk Rock, The Renaissance, Andy Warhol and Jesus Christ all rolled into one."

"This is what KLF is about, also known as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, further more known as the JAMs..." well as The Timelords, Disco 2000, 2K, K2 Plant Hire, The K Foundation and of course The One World Orchestra Featuring the Massed Pipes And Drums of the Children’s Free Revolutionary Volunteer Guards.

Comprising Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, the group achieved their greatest success in the period 1989-92, when they were known as The KLF and were associated with a style they called Stadium House (basically, Acid House with pop/rock production and sampled noises from cheering crowds). However, they also dabbled in other genres, usually Electronic Music (ambient, various house subgenres, techno, alternative dance), and became infamous for their satirical media stunts. For instance, when they were sued for unlicensed Sampling by ABBA, they responded by torching copies of 1987 (What the Fuck Is Going On?) in a field (a photo of this became the cover of their next album).

To read up on a complete history of the group, the best place to start would be the band's Wikipedia Entry.

Studio albums
  • 1987 (What the Fuck is Going On?) (1987) note 
    • most copies have been destroyed, the rest are collector's items.
  • Who Killed The JAMs? (1988) note 
  • Chill Out (1990)
  • The White Room (1991)
    • The White Room (Director's Cut) (2021) (a re-edit of The White Room which removes the Stadium House trilogy and adds some unreleased tracks intended for the original 1989 release of the album).

Non-Album singles

  • "Whitney Joins The JAMs" (1987) note 
  • "I Gotta CD" (1987) note 
  • "One Love Nation" (1988) note 
  • "Doctorin' the Tardis" (1988) note 
  • "What Time is Love? (Pure Trance)" (1988)
  • "Uptight" (1989) note 
  • "3 A.M. Eternal (Pure Trance)" (1989)
  • "Kylie Said the Jason" (1989)
    • The Lead-off Single from the Original 1989 version of The White Room
  • "It's Grim Up North" (1991) note 
    • The Lead-off Single from the Original techno-metal version of The Black Room
  • "Justified & Ancient (Stand by The JAMs)" (1991) note 
  • "America: What Time Is Love?" (1992)
  • "K Cera Cera" (1993) note 
  • "The Magnificent" (1995 - Appeared on the charity album The Help Album) note 
  • "***K The Millennium" (1997) note 

Other Records

  • The Man (1986) (Bill Drummond's solo record, released a year before forming the KLF. A Scottish Folk album.)
  • 1987: The JAMs 45 Edits (Basically 1987 (What the Fuck is Going On?) with all of the unauthorised samples removed)
  • Shag Times (1989) (a collection of non-album singles & remixes)
    • Released in the United States as The History of The JAMs a.k.a. The Timelords.
  • The "What Time is Love?" Story (1989) (compilation album of various "What Time is Love?" knock-offs)
  • Space (1990) (Jimmy Cauty's solo album, made from scrap parts from the original version of The Orb's debut album)
  • Waiting for the Rights of Mu (1997) (The audio from the Home Video releases Waiting and The Rites Of Mu)
    • Presumed to be a bootleg, but was sold through normal retail channels for a while.
  • Solid State Logik 1 (2021) (a collection of the 7" single versions of the KLF's biggest hits)
  • Come Down Dawn (2021) note  (A previously unreleased early mix of the Chill Out album. It lacks the Elvis Presley samples, and the last ten minutes is completely different, but the remainder is pretty much the same as the original release.)
  • Solid State Logik 2 (2021) (a collection of 12" single versions)


  • Waiting (1990)
  • The Stadium House Trilogy (1991) (A collection of all three "Stadium House" singles Music Videos)
  • The Rites Of Mu (1991)
  • Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid (1995) note 
  • Pissing in the Wind (Footage of Bill, Jimmy, and Mark Hawker Pissing in the wind.) note 
  • This Brick (4 minutes of a still picture of a brick made from the ashes of the million pounds burned.) note 

Unreleased Items

  • The White Room (1989)
    • Both a film (which was never finished) and an unreleased album. Both circulate online.
  • The Black Room (~1990-91) note 
    • Described by Bill Drummond as "Megadeth with drum machines." Only song released from this version was "It's Grim Up North".
  • The Black Room (~1992) note 

The group provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: They never did find the white room, or finish the film, or stage that art exhibition, or build the people's pyramid, or fuck the millennium...
  • Album Intro Track: The White Room starts with Black Steel singing the first verse of "Justified And Ancient" before being cut off by "What Time Is Love".
  • Arc Symbol: Sheep.
    • They were the audience to the only showing of the unreleased White Room film.
    • On the cover of Chill Out.
    • This image, which appeared in The White Room album liner notes. (If you can't read the caption, it says "Why sheep?")
    • A dead one was thrown into the 1992 Brits aftershow.
  • Arc Number: 23. note 
    • Their first single "All You Need is Love" was released with the Catalog number "JAMS 023".
    • It was 23 years between the release of Tammy Wynette's single "Stand by Your Man" and her appearance in "Justified & Ancient".
    • Jimmy and Bill didn't discuss their money-burning until August 23, 2017 — 23 years to the day after the original event.
    • Their reunion as 2K in 1997 lasted for exactly 23 minutes.
    • "Kopyrite Liberation Front" has 23 letters.
    • Their comeback 23 years after their £1 million exploits was at 23 seconds past midnight on 23 August 2017,note  to launch their novel "2023".
  • All There in the Manual: Well, as far as the Timelords episode goes, anyway.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: As the norm for early 90s Euro-Dance, a rapper (either Ricardo Da Force or Isaac Bello) appears on their most popular hits.
  • The Band Minus the Face: Owing to some copyright clause, Wanda Dee wound up with partial rights to the KLF stadium house tracks that sampled her. So when Cauty and Drummond quit the music industry, she started playing those tracks at her live shows and touring the US as "Wanda Dee featuring The KLF".
  • Boastful Rap: Frequently, from their debut "All You Need Is Love" onwards ("We're the hottest MCs on the River Clyde!")
  • Book Ends: The White Room begins with Black Steel singing the album version of Justified And Ancient but he gets cut off after the first verse. At the end of the album, he gets to finish singing the song.
  • Careful with That Axe: "America: What Time is Love?" begins with the narrator telling the story of how the vikings first landed in America. After a brief silence, Glenn Hughes suddenly bursts into the song with his trademark shriek while the music joins him.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Their entire back catalog... at least until the 31st December 2020, when large swathes of it appeared on streaming and on YouTube.
  • Censored Title: ***K The Millennium. They were never going to get away with it uncensored, but at least they got to choose which letter survived.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: 1987 (What The Fuck Is Going On?) was pulled from the market due to having a massive amount of unauthorized sampling. In response, the band released 1987 (The JAMs 45 Edits), which consisted of all of the original material from the album with long stretches of silence where the samples were. The liner notes for The JAMs 45 Edits cites what samples would have been there and provides a guide for the listener to replicate the original version of the album themselves. This edited version of the album had such a small amount of actual music on it that it was formally classified as and sold as a 12 inch single. For an idea of how much material was removed from the 41 minute album, the liner notes to The JAMs 45 Edits mentions that the second side has "some great wadges of silence": one is filled by playing ABBA's "Dancing Queen" "from beginning to end"; and the other by playing a pre-recorded VHS cassette of "last week's Top of the Pops" for "about three minutes". The only sample that remained on The JAMs 45 Edits was from "Totally Wired", by The Fall.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The full, uncensored version of "Fuck the Millennium" has over 100 uses of "fuck" in about 14 minutes.
  • Concept Album:
    • Chill Out is the soundtrack to a road trip in the Southern US.
    • The first half of The White Room (Side A on vinyl) represents the group playing a live show, as does their Stadium House longform video.
  • Cool Car: The Jamsmobile (aka Ford Timelord), claimed to be an ex-stuntcar and credited as the "talent" in The Timelords. Possibly parodied with the Ice Cream Van.
  • Cool Shades: Rockman loves his cool shades. Cressida also dons cool shades in the "Last Train To Trancentral" video.
  • Distinct Double Album: The original UK version of Shag Times, their 1988 "best of" - disc one is the singles and the best album tracks that they could still legally release, disc two is largely instrumental dance mixes. The second disc was originally intended as a separate LP called Toward The Trance.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Aside from the contentious samples, Cauty and Drummond spend most of 1987 (What the Fuck Is Going On) attempting to be the British equivalent of The Beastie Boys. They continued this here and there on Who Killed the JAMs, but by the time they started recording as The KLF, most of the hip hop elements of their sound were long gone.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Both "Justified & Ancient" and "Last Train To Trancentral" appear in Chill Out before their eventual release on The White Room. For the record, the chorus of 'Justified & Ancient' featured on Chill Out was actually sampled from the first track of 1987, 'Hey Hey We Are Not the Monkees'. 'Last Train To Trancentral' actually began life as the backing track to a different track, "Go to Sleep", featured on the 1989 version of The White Room.
  • Epic Rocking: The UK version of the album Chill Out was a single, 45-minute-long track. (The American version divides the album into individual songs, but sounds identical to the UK version.)
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: "America No More".
  • Fading into the Next Song: 1987, Chill Out, side one of The White Room. (In the latter, the fading was accomplished via crowd noises sampled from U2's Under a Blood Red Sky. These samples were removed from from the US release of The White Room, which eliminated the fading.)
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Justified Ancients of Mu-Mu was frequently abbreviated as The JAMs. Cauty and Drummond gave multiple, contradictory explanations of what The KLF stood for, the most memorable being "the Kopyrite Liberation Front".
  • Funny Background Event: In the music video for "Last Train to Trancentral", look closely at the titular train. Its driver appears to be a sheep.
  • Gospel Choirs Are Just Better: "Down Town" has a gospel choir alongside King Boy's rapping and a sampled Petula Clark. Because they could.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Japanese writing is sprayed all over the video for "Justified and Ancient". Much of it is meaningless or flashes up too quickly to be understood.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Jimmy and Bill recurted a number of Guest vocalist for their most popular hits. Most notably, country legend Tammy Wynette was recorded for the single version of "Justified and Ancient". Former Deep Purple member Glenn Hughes joined for "America: What Time is Love?".
  • Hardcore Punk: Memorably teamed up with the crust punk/grindcore band Extreme Noise Terror for a spectacular performance at the Brit Awards.
  • Heroic BSoD: It's been rumored that Bill Drummond was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, possibly due to the group's success. This was possibly the reason why the group left the music industry.
  • I Have Many Names: As noted above, the duo's group actually went by a number of aliases.
  • The Illuminati: The Justified Ancients Of Mu-Mu are named after a society from The Illuminatus! Trilogy who subvert the Illuminati by infiltrating it and feeding it false information. The KLF Communications "pyramid blaster" logo is also a parody of the "eye in the pyramid" Illuminati symbol.
  • Listing Cities: "It's Grim Up North" and the full-length version of "America: What Time Is Love?".
  • Live Album: Subverted. Side one of The White Room is made to sound like a live show, but is faked using samples of crowd noise from other people's live albums. "Burn The Bastards" is a similarly fake "live" recording, and "America: What Time Is Love" takes it up to eleven (as indeed it takes everything else up to eleven), complete with a fake audience member "commenting" on the performance at the end.
  • MacGuffin Location: A quest to discover "the White Room" is a major strand of their mythology.
  • Mind Screw: Pretty much everything about "Justified and Ancient (Stand By The JAMs)", The K Foundation and 2K.
  • Money to Burn:
    • After quitting the music business in 1992, Drummond and Cauty re-styled themselves as the K Foundation. Finding themselves with about £1,000,000 in cash as the overall profit from their time as the KLF, they decided to bestow a £40,000 prize on the "worst artist of the year." The announced recipient, Rachel Whiteread, refused to accept the award at first, but changed her mind at the last minute after Drummond and Cauty threatened to burn the money. She said she would distribute it as grants to artists in need.
    • At about the same time, Drummond and Cauty tried to set up an art exhibition whose centerpiece would be "Nailed to the Wall," consisting of their £1,000,000 nailed to an easel. When no major gallery showed interest, they instead burned it all in 1994. And filmed the whole thing, releasing it as Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid in 1995. They made a brick from the ashes of the fire and filmed it for three minutes, releasing the result as This Brick in 1997.
  • More Dakka: The KLF announced their retirement from the music business at the 1992 BRIT Awards, with Drummond firing blanks from a machine gun over the heads of the audience.
  • New Sound Album:
    • Chill Out was completely different from anything they'd released before, and The White Room was completely different from that. If they'd ever finished it, The Black Room was supposedly going to be a different sound again.
    • Their early work as The JAMs is steeped in Hip-Hop. The original version of The White Room is a mixture of House Music and synth-pop (ala Pet Shop Boys), Chill Out is ambient album, The Stadium House Trilogy is Acid House with Stadium Rock production, and what we have of The Black Room, it's Thrash Metal.
  • No Ending: A subtly-implied one in Chill Out. The track titles suggest a journey up the US gulf coast, but stop short of the implied destination, New Orleans.
  • On a Soundstage All Along: The Disco 2000 video for "Uptight" does this, though considering the preceding three and a half minutes mostly consists of Mo and Cressida dancing about in front of some sheets, it's not much of a reveal.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • ***K The Millennium in its radio edit includes a verse from the hymn Eternal Father, Strong To Save. That's a gag. The full-length version includes three - that's an Overly Long Gag.
    • A common complaint about 1987: What The Fuck Is Going On is that the Top of the Pops sequence goes on way too long.
  • Pastiche: The duo have said that they were infatuated by the Pet Shop Boys during the recording of "Kylie Said to Jason", which is apparent in the melody and vocals.
  • Performance Video: The Stadium House video (from which the promo for "Last Train To Trancenctral" was extracted) takes the form of a mock-up live show.
  • The Quiet One: Rockman lets his music do the talking.
  • Rearrange the Song: All their hits went through extensive rewrites, reworkings, remixes and reissues. After the single "Kylie Said To Jason" flopped, the original version of the album The White Room was scrapped. On the version that eventually got released, every track had been extensively rearranged - whole verses were dropped, songs underwent Genre Shift (the minimal, dubby original versions of "What Time Is Love" and "3am Eternal" were transformed into upbeat rave tracks, "Build A Fire" changed from a bouncy synthpop song to a country ballad, "No More Tears" likewise into a long minimal reggae-dub-ish piece), and in the case of "Go To Sleep", the song was completely rewritten from its main musical elements to become "Last Train To Trancentral".
  • Recurring Riff: Several of these, "Mu! Mu!" is probably the most iconic. Another would be guest rapper Chike's "ANCIENTS of Mu-Mu" which was reused several times, as well as the whole "They're Justified, and they're ancient...." verse.
  • Rhyming with Itself: Ricardo's rap in the "Live at the SSL" version of "3am Eternal" has "Everywhere you turn'll / Point to the fact that time is eternal". They may technically be different words, but it's the same sound and jars in context, especially after the previous verse used a similar rhyme, but got it right with "Everything you learn'll...".
  • Road Trip Plot: The White Room.
  • Sampling:
    • 1987: The Monkees '(Theme From) The Monkees', ABBA 'Dancing Queen', The Beatles' 'All You Need is Love', MC5's 'Kick Out the Jams' (later to be used on the S.S.L version of What Time Is Love) just to name a few
    • Chill Out: Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto", Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross", Van Halen's "Eruption", 808 State's "Pacific", Pink Floyd's "On the Run", various preacher samples, Russian broadcasts, Tuvan throat singers, etc.
    • Whitney Joins the JAMs samples I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) along with the Theme to Mission: Impossible.
    • And sound effects all over, including crowd noise from concert recordings by U2 and The Doors (and also - if the liner notes for The White Room are to be believed - Haircut 100), rocket launches and trains. LOTS of trains. Oh, and sheep.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Kylie Said To Jason" is packed with these, the titular "Kylie" and "Jason" being Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, then stars in the popular Australian TV soap opera Neighbours.
    • The Time Lords "Doctorin' the Tardis" is themed around Doctor Who, but also has a shout out to comedian Harry Enfield's character Loadsamoney, with its "Bosh bosh bosh, loads of money" lyrics.
    • Their initial name, The Justified Ancients of Mu-Mu, was taken from The Illuminatus! Trilogy. The group's career is basically one huge shout out to the trilogy. Drummond and Cauty also both embraced Discordianism, which inspired the majority of their antics.
  • Stage Names: Rockman Rock (Cauty) and King Boy D (Drummond). Initially these were adopted for legal reasons (Plausible Deniability) but it took about 23 seconds for everyone to find out who they really were. They kept the names anyway.
  • Stylistic Suck: "Doctorin' the Tardis", a mashup of the Doctor Who theme, Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Pt. 2", and Sweet's "Block Buster". Intentionally written as a Springtime for Hitler, it ended up going to #1 on the charts, and provided the duo with enough material to write The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way), a satirical manual about how to achieve a hit without talent or money.
  • Take That!: 1987 takes shots at several issues. One example is "The Queen and I", which includes the line "When cancer is the killer/John Player run the league", in reference to John Player & Sons, a tobacco company that sponsored a one-day cricket league, the John Player League (now known as the Pro40 League), lambasts tabloid mentality ("They all keep talking about Princess Di's dress"), and the government overall ("When I was younger, I knew just who to hate/From the teachers in our classroom to the leaders of our state/I've registered to vote this pleasant land's free"). And just to make clear which way the group leans towards with regards of the monarchy, besides the famous sampling of ABBA's "Dancing Queen", the song also samples the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" and "Anarchy in the U.K." towards the end.
  • Train Song: "Last Train To Trancentral".
    • The "Mu D. Vari-Speed Version" remix has samples of Trains playing in the background while someone speeds-up and slows down the track.
  • Un-Installment: Of the planned five-part "Pure Trance" series, only 1, 2 and 5 were released. Sleeves were printed for 3 and 4, but the records themselves were never pressed. The corresponding numbers in the KLF Communications catalogue sequence (KLF 006 and KLF 007) were also skipped.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Ricardo's raps tended toward this.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: "Kopyright Liberation Front". Or, to have exactly 23 letters, "Kopyrite Liberation Front".