They ARE the justified ancients of Mu Mu land. All aboard the last train from Transcentral, it’s The KLF!
…aka The Timelords, aka The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, aka The JAMs!
Bill Drummond (b.1953) and Jimmy Cauty (b,1956) spent the late 1980’s and early 90’s at the top of the charts in many guises and while at their peak, they retired. They ‘deleted’ their back catalogue and disappeared into space. So let’s celebrate their contribution and ask, where are you now?
Drummond and Cauty began writing music in 1987, first as The JAMs and released their debut single, “All You Need Is Love”, that year. Although not a commercial success, it made No.3 on the UK indie singles chart and paved the way for another top five charting single, “Whitney Joins The JAMs”, a few months later. Under this name, Drummond and Cauty released an album, “1987 (What the Fuck Is Going On?)”, which also reached the top five on the indie album chart. The stage was now set.
The following twelve months were spent releasing more independent singles under multiple guises, including ‘Disco 2000’, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu and The KLF, all of which saw indie chart success. In 1988 the duo ‘wrote’ and created the song “Doctorin’ The Tardis” under a new name, The Timelords. This mashed up old hits from Gary Glitter as well as the theme music from the TV series, Doctor Who. Made as a novelty record, the song shot into the commercial charts and very quickly topped the UK chart. It was also a minor success in America, where it peaked at No.66 on the singles chart and No.16 on the dance chart.
The song was released as a joke in part and an attempt to have at least, a chart entry. By going to number one, the pair proved that sometimes anything will make it to number one! They wrote and published the book The Manual (How To Have A Number One The Easy Way) later that year and released the album “Who Killed The JAMs?”, although this only entered the indie album chart. Ny the end of 1988, they were using the name The KLF again and released “What Time Is Love?”, although this and subsequent releases (including “Kylie Said To Jason”) did either nothing or just charted on the Indie chart. Lasting commercial success came under the title of The KLF from the Autumn of 1990 when “What Time Is Love?” was re-issued and made No.5 on the UK chart and No.13 on the US dance chart.
That success rolled over into 1991 with the next single, “3am Eternal”, which would top the UK chart and the US dance chart and peak at No.5 on the US singles chart. having released three albums in between as The KLF, Space and Disco2000, Drummond and Cauty released “The White Room” soon after, taking the album to No.3 in the UK and No.39 Stateside. This would also find success internationally as well, as did the singles “3am Eternal” and the follow up, “Last Train To Trancentral” (UK No.2), which was a top ten hit across Europe and down to Australia. A re-worked version of “What Time Is Love?” with the prefix, “America”, was then issued making No.10 on the dance chart and No.57 on the Billboard singles chart, together with a top five placing at home.
1991 was not done yet as a fourth and a fifth single were on the way, firstly, they reverted to using the name The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu for “It’s Grim Up North” (UK No.10) and the back to The KLF at the end of the year, this time roping in Country legend Tammy Wynette to perform vocals on “Justified And Ancient”, which reached No.2 in the UK, giving the duo six consecutive top ten hits in just over twelve months. It was also a big hit in Tammy’s homeland, reaching No.11 on the singles chart and No.2 on the dance chart as it was a top ten hit globally, Wynette’s biggest hit in more than a decade.
And that was it. A year of unrivalled success having spent five years trying to be noticed and Drummond and Cauty quit the music business. At the following February’s Brit Awards, the pair announced “The KLF are done”. Nobody actually took them seriously at the time, but following a number of interviews, it became clear that both men were not joking. Their back catalogue was deleted and the publishing company wound up. But…it wasn’t quite it and as time would prove, there would be a comeback, of sorts. Drummond and Cauty did make a brief return in 1997 under the name of 2K and released the single, “Fuck The Millennium”, which would climb to No.28 in the UK charts. Both went their separate ways soon after and enjoyed a very quiet, ‘normal’ life. However…
…in early 2021, thirty years after their initial chart success, ‘The KLF’ back catalogue was finally made available digitally and the official videos published once again. An album, “Solid State Logik 1”, a greatest hits, was released on 1st January, bringing together their eight biggest hits as The KLF, The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu and The Timelords. Now, how about a proper comeback…?(!)
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