Song of the Day: The Timelords “Doctorin’ The Tardis”
Pop music pranksters, The KLF managed some remarkable feats during their altogether too brief existence. One of those key feats was managing a UK number one (under the alias, The Timelords) by smashing together The Sweet‘s “Blockbuster”, Gary Glitter‘s “Rock & Roll Pt II”, the Doctor Who theme and a series of nonsensical chants. It shouldn’t work, but then, remarkable it does! The song ends up being, in its own idiotic way, possibly both the single best and single worst song to ever notch that coveted #1 slot in the UK charts.
Never ones to fail to point out the humor in the situation, the band were quick to rush out a manual entitled The Manual: How To Have A Number One The Easy Way in the immediate aftermath. This was after all the same band that took to selling large numbers of pound notes stapled to picture frames at fine art auctions. Or that got Tammy Wynette to sing about how they were “justified and ancient and drive an ice cream van” (apparently helping Wynette to a late career revival). Or performed at an award show by teaming up with Extreme Noise Terror, firing an M-16 into the audience (loaded with blanks) and announcing their exit from the music business. Or that subsequently burned £1,000,000 along with their master tapes.
The KLF, aka The Timelords, aka the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu were composed of ex-punk rocker turned Teardrop Explodes and Echo & The Bunnymen manager Bill Drummond and his co-conspirator, Jimmy Cauty (who would also co-found electronic music group, The Orb). Combining Cauty‘s electronic production skills with Drummond‘s genius for promotion and penchant for irreverent pranks, the group was immediately like nothing else in popular music. The KLF adopted the philosophy espoused by cult scifi novel series The Illuminatus! Trilogy, engaging in deeply situationist humor. From bizarre billboards, to cryptic advertising campaigns in the music press of the day, no one quite knew where The KLF were coming from.
Despite all the oddball marketing, the KLF were Still a band and during their altogether too brief lifespan, they released two well-regarded albums: the sample-heavy dance record The White Room and the ambient electronic soundscape Chill Out. The band ran from 1987 to 1992, when, as mentioned above, they promptly existed the music business: deleting their entire back catalog.
The KLF have subsequently periodically re-emerged for one off projects or pranks. They last re-appeared in 2017 to release a novel: 2023: A Trilogy by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. Following a book signing event held in back of an ice cream truck, Cauty and Drummond staged three days of events along with 400 volunteers under a banner reading “Welcome To The Dark Ages”. Truly, the heroes that we need now more than ever. Here is hoping that they re-emerge again soon.