Given its sheer quantity over more than 70 years, most chart pop music rarely stays in the popular memory for long, quickly going out of date never to come back into fashion.
So it was for the KLF - alias the Timelords - who had two Number Ones and four other Top 5 hits between 1988 and 1991. Their catchy house music had an edge and eccentricity that appealed to an "indie" audience listening out for successors to James, the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays. That audience loved the way the KLF were funny, imaginative, mischievous and always surprising. If you're among them then you will know the rich, crazy folklore.
It's a relatively small crowd though and I'm not sure anyone else was paying nearly as much attention; it is curious that the KLF's heavyweight "break all the rules" approach to publicity left them without a simple, enduring, mainstream public image. I struggled to think of the single picture or video to use with this blog. The car from the Doctor Who video? The pointy capes? The ice cream van? I went with Tammy Wynette.
So whatever they did with machine guns and a dead sheep at the Brit Awards in 1992, I'm not sure they are remembered much more widely or fondly than, say, S Express, Adamski or Enigma. And since they immediately deleted their entire catalogue in 1992 and have never re-released any of it on CD, vinyl or on streaming services, I doubt young music fans are discovering them for the first time now as they are with so many other "old artists".
But they made some great records, and some of us are now very excited that they might be back later this year. As ever, the publicity is vague, off-the-cuff and mock-pompous. For more news on this, and for more and better words on the KLF by a proper writer, the terrific Andrew Harrison wrote this in yesterday's Guardian newspaper
And, from us, here is a KLF Top 10:
1 - The White Room
. Vinyl LP from 1991 with all the hits.
2 - It's Grim up North
under the alias Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. Lists 68 towns (and one motorway) in the north of England followed by an excerpt from Jerusalem
. Eerie, rousing and moving.
3 - Chill Out
. One of the earliest "ambient house" concept albums. No hits, apart from snatches of Elvis and Acker Bilk; just a continuous piece of music. Genuinely lovely.
4 - The Magnificent
under the alias One World Orchestra from the War Child charity album Help
, then used in Serbia as a protest song against the government of Slobodan Milošević.
5 - What Time Is Love?
video. If you can remember only one thing about the KLF it would probably be this.
6 - 45
. Charming, sad, inspiring, funny diary of a year by Bill Drummond (of the KLF) with none of the bombast of the music.
7 - Justified and Ancient
video. Features Tammy Wynette who sings lead vocals.
8 - Downtown
from Shag Times
under the alias Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. Best song from an early, patchy sampling/hip hop album.
9 - Doctorin' the Tardis
under the alias the Timelords. Doctor Who meets Gary Glitter on Top of the Pops but is somehow cool.
10 - The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way)
. Book by the KLF about how they had a Number 1 hit with Doctorin' the Tardis
Posted by Mark Lawrence on Friday, 28th April 2017 at 10.20 am.