« Previous | Main | Next »

Classic Scottish Albums: The KLF

Post categories:

Davie Scott Davie Scott | 12:55 UK time, Monday, 5 September 2011

My good friend and brother in rock Duglas T Stewart agrees that there is something compelling and ultimately very moving about the strange video that accompanies The KLF's 1992 single Justified And Ancient. In it a wizened and world weary Tammy Wynette gets her heartbroken pipes round a folksy ol' tune and some lyrical tosh about ice cream vans, the justified ancients of Mu Mu and an exhortation to 'stand by the jams' while a choir wave their hands ecstatically chanting "all bound for Mu Mu land" and scantily clad drummers pound away earnestly. It's the Dada Wizard Of Oz, hypercandied, stoopid, magical. And this is a thing about one strand of the greatest pop music - there are some artists who are so fleet of foot, so cocksure that they can chuck together a series of outré, often plain bad elements and still come up smelling of sonic roses. Examples might include Dexys Midnight Runners who brought banjos, fiddles, poorly conceived facial hair and dungarees to bear on American R&B and came up with Come On Eileen, or Brian Wilson who combined idiotic teenage themes, sophisticated chord changes and structures, frankly farty sounding synths and his own 1970s-vintage, cigarette-ruined croak for the latter-day classic The Beach Boys Love You.

The KLF - 'The White Room'

The KLF - 'The White Room'

Gosh, the chutzpah, the emotional endurance to go 15 rounds with something you suspect (in the opening seconds of round 1) might be absolute rubbish and then sit exhausted in the corner stool, realising either:

a. It WAS rubbish
b. It is basically The Mona Lisa, OK Computer, insert masterpiece here.

Very funny moment making this programme. We have Glenn Hughes (ex-Deep Purple, Trapeze) on the line from his palatial gaff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the very essence of California breezing through what CSA producer Victoria McArthur and I imagine is quite an impressive head of hair. Conviviality itself, Glenn is talking (in that curious transatlantic croak recently trademarked by Paul McCartney) about the career-turning moment when he hit the ball clean out of the park with a guest vocal on What Time Is Love America. As he continues we start hearing the odd local yelp from a dog. Maybe three dogs. Or four. A rock star would probably have at least four dogs, right? Glenn ploughs on regardless. Now those five dogs are getting excited, angry, and ready to rampage through the streets. Glenn continues, and now we're hearing just the odd syllable, the snatched consonant as the dogs go completely, biblically mad, howling now, six or seven actually by the sounds of them. Big dogs, frenzied, screaming dogs and somewhere, in the tiny middle of this craziness is Glenn and the continuing anecdote. Victoria and I are calling out, Glenn! Glenn! Glenn! He can't hear us but he's trouping on anyway. And as the animals eventually turn the dial down from the setting 'Hell Hound Of Hades' to 'Spot the Dog Has A Slightly Irksome But Not Actually Painful Jag At The Local Vets' it is clear that Glenn is just coming to the end of his anecdote. There is a lovely pause before he says, hey, Davie, did you, like, hear anything there? Did you hear those dogs barking?

The White Room by The KLF is wearing wonderfully well. That Dexys / Wilson trick is carried off track by bonkers track and still feels (nearly 20 years after release - really, really ouch) vibrantly, profoundly daft. Son of the manse Bill Drummond and his partner in chaos Jimmy Cauty continue various forms of cultural agitation and I for one live in hope that we may see their like again.

Thanks for listening to the 5th Series of Classic Scottish Albums. We hope to have more for you very soon - and keep the suggestions coming, they really do help us focus on where we should go with this...


  • Comment number 1.

    That was a superb programme. I would have previously just said "nah" to KLF but will be buying the album.

    As a bit of an aside for anyone interested here is the list of albums to date, not a bad library if you bought them all!

    Average White Band: The White Album
    Aztec Camera: High Land Hard Rain
    Belle And Sebastian: The Boy With The Arab Strap
    Bert Jansch: Bert Jansch
    Big Country: The Crossing
    The Blue Nile: A Walk Across The Rooftops
    Capercaillie - Delirium
    The Cocteau Twins: Heaven Or Las Vegas
    Deacon Blue: Raintown
    Donovan: Sunshine Superman
    Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
    Gerry Rafferty: City To City
    Glasvegas: Glasvegas
    Incredible String Band: Incredible String Band
    The Jesus And Mary Chain: Psychocandy
    John Martyn: Solid Air
    KLF - White Room
    Lloyd Cole: Rattlesnakes
    Orange Juice: You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever
    Primal Scream: Screamadelica
    The Proclaimers: This Is The Story
    Sensational Alex Harvey Band: NEXT!
    Simple Minds: New Gold Dream
    Al Stewart - Year Of The Cat
    Teenage Fanclub: Bandwagonesque
    The Waterboys: This Is The Sea

  • Comment number 2.

    Norrie - that's great to read. I loved getting back with that album - and what a story...major props to Victoria McArthur on this one...

  • Comment number 3.

    good to see this classic track get its due's ... if ever opposites have merged into such as seductive 3.37 mins of random pop this is it ... cheesy trance meets country's golden girl, creating Drummonds magnum opus on ice cream vans ... does it get any better.

    great stuff, really enjoying the show so far, keep it up, davie

  • Comment number 4.

    Great show about a mad and wonderful album. I will definitely be listening to this one again.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hey Davie....Its certainly in my my Top 20 Scottish Albums ( I have tried to rank these in order of what these records mean to me)
    John Martyn: Solid Air
    Orange Juice: You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever
    The Scars: Author Author
    The Jesus And Mary Chain: Psychocandy
    Primal Scream: Screamadelica
    Teenage Fanclub: Bandwagonesque
    The Vaselines – Dum Dum
    Glasvegas: Glasvegas
    Sensational Alex Harvey Band: NEXT!
    Belle and Sebastain: Tiger Milk
    The Delgados - The Great Eastern
    Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - Everything's Getting Older
    Danny Wilson - Meet Danny Wilson
    Martyn Bennet -Bothy Culture
    The Cocteau Twins - Garlands
    Josef K – Only Fun In Town
    KLF - White Room
    Isobel Campell and Marl Lanegan - Ballad of the Broken Seas
    The Shop Assistants - Will Anything Happen
    Mogwai - Mogwai Young Team

    There's a story to them all and that's one of the wondrous things that happens, we create a relationship with a body of work, its a moment in time and often it is timeless. They frame and reflect our emotions, they fuel our souls and fill a void. We are all in a much better place because of their creation and we live in anticipation of that next great masterpiece and if its made by a Scot we radiate with pride and love gelled by our common belonging.

  • Comment number 6.

    Deejay - great list, great post. You might know we've made progs for numbers 1,2,4,5,6,8,9 and of course 17 on that list. look out for repeats. The Martyn Bennet is an interesting shout and a great story...I love the Bill / Aiden album too. Would love to feature the Danny Wilson record...a personal favourite and a choice that seems to be gathering a head of steam...
    So many possibilities here...

  • Comment number 7.

    what no Kevin McDermott? Surely Mother Nature's Kitchen, Bedazzled and maybe even Wise To the Fade are worth a feature?


More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.