Doctorin' The Tardis sleeve

DOCTORIN’ THE TARDIS – The Timelords

12 – 18 June 1988 · KLF Communications KLF 003 · Writers: Nicky Chinn, Mike Chapman, Ron Grainer, Gary Glitter, Mike Leander, The Timelords

The Timelords were an off-shoot of art terrorism duo The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu, consisting of Jimmy Cauty (‘Rockman Rock’) and Bill Drummond (‘King Boy D’). Cauty had previously been a member of the ironically named mid-’80s chart also-rans Brilliant, while Drummond was already a music business veteran, having been a member of Big In Japan (alongside Holly Johnson and future Lightning Seeds main man Ian Broudie), managed The Teardrop Explodes and recorded a solo album for Creation in 1986, amongst other ventures.

Formed on New Year’s Day 1987, the Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu’s first single All You Need Is Love and album 1987: What The Fuck’s Going On? were critically acclaimed, but strangled at birth by a million apoplectic copyright lawyers when they spotted that the recordings seemed to be an attempt to sample every record ever made, from the Beatles’ All You Need Is Love to Samantha Fox’s Touch Me (I Want Your Body). The single was eventually released in a heavily edited form, but Abba took great exception to the sample of Dancing Queen on the album track The Queen And I and insisted that all copies of the album be destroyed. The duo travelled to Sweden to symbolically set light to the albums, an event which inspired the later recordings Build A Fire and Burn The Bastards.

After releasing further singles and a second album, Who Killed The JAMS?, Drummond and Cauty laid the Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu to rest at the end of 1987 and set their sights on mainstream chart success. Seeing that their experiments in sampling had been taken up and given a pop sheen by the likes of Bomb The Bass and S-Express, the ever-wily Drummond realised that this could be taken to even more populist extremes. To prove the point, he and Cauty set about welding together sections of The Sweet’s Blockbuster, Gary Glitter’s Rock ‘n’ Roll and the theme from Doctor Who. Throw in a playground-friendly chant of “Doctor Who-ooo, Doc, Doctor Who” and a few Dalek-style renditions of popular catchphrases of the day and hey presto! Instant number one single. Cauty and Drummond subsequently documented the making of the record and provided tips and instructions for anyone wishing to emulate their success in a book, The Manual: How To Have A Number One Hit The Easy Way.

The following year, the duo became The KLF and invented ambient house music with their Chill Out album, before going on to become the UK’s biggest selling singles act of 1991 with a string of top ten hits including What Time Is Love?, 3am Eternal, Last Train To Trancentral, Justified And Ancient and the US remix of What Time Is Love?, cunningly entitled America: What Time Is Love? This intensely busy period also saw them hit the top 10 under the Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu moniker with It’s Grim Up North, essentially a list of names of towns in the north of England, spoken over a techno backing.

The KLF’s last public appearance was at the 1992 Brit Awards, where they performed a version of 3am Eternal in collaboration with thrash metal group Extreme Noise Terror. Drummond, wearing a kilt, hobbled around the stage supported by one crutch, got the lyrics wrong, and ended the performance by firing a machine gun into the audience. After the performance, which was met with total bemusement by the assembled music industry bosses, the band left a dead sheep backstage (their original plan to throw sheep’s blood into the audience having been thwarted by the lack of sufficient quantities of blood and the protestations of Extreme Noise Terror, fervent vegetarians to a man) and split up, deleting their entire back catalogue and effectively vanishing from the face of the earth.

That is, until the following year, when they reformed as the K Foundation, declaring war on the elitist, self-serving British art establishment. One of their first projects was an attempt to sell one million pounds in banknotes nailed to a board to London’s Tate Gallery for £750,000. The Tate said it was a security risk, despite the K Foundation pointing out that the gallery would immediately make a profit of a quarter of a million pounds which they could use to buy some ‘real’ art. Their second shot at the Tate was in 1993 when they usurped the gallery’s Turner Prize award for the best British artist by offering £40,000 to the worst British artist of the year. Significantly, this prize money was double that of the Turner award, and in a wonderful piece of irony Rachel Whiteread won both. (In fact, she refused to collect the K Foundation award until Drummond threatened to set fire to it outside the gallery.)

The K Foundation also recorded the odd piece of music, the most notable of which was a single with the Red Army Choir, K Cera Cera (War Is Over If You Want It), which they claimed would only be released once world peace had been achieved. In fact the single did see the light of day in Israel to commemorate the peace process in the Middle East. Their best remembered exploit, however, was the ceremonial burning of a million pounds of their own money, earned during their KLF period. Footage of this event was later given limited release as a film, Watch The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid. Reviews were, to say the least, mixed and it is still under debate whether or not they burned a full million, or if the money in the video was actually real.

Since then, Drummond and Cauty have kept a reasonably low profile, although they resurfaced briefly in 1997, releasing the single ***K The Millennium (essentially yet another remix of What Time Is Love?) under the name 2K. This was accompanied by a 23-minute performance at the Barbican arts centre in London, after which the band split up again. Their plan to to commemorate the new millennium by building a pyramid from house bricks entitled ‘The Great Northern Pyramid Of The People’ failed to materialise, and their current whereabouts are unknown.


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