All aboard to Mu-Mu Land, with “3am Eternal” by The KLF, a UK number one in 1991 from the horned magicians, true national treasures.
A totally unique act in both pop and dance music worlds, Bill Drummond is an all-time hero and there are so many reasons to love the KLF, a perfect mash up of performance art with out and out bangers. Choosing my favourite tune for this countdown, I could have picked any of their “stadium house” trilogy, but “3am Eternal” edges it as my marginal favourite plus it was the song choice for their legendary Brits performance (more on that below). “3am Eternal” also made it all the way to number one in the UK; “What Time Is Love?” reached number 5, while “Last Train To Trancentral” fell just short as a number 2 hit. With all the accompanying noise around the KLF over the years (especially 1994’s notorious burning of a million quid), it’s often forgotten quite how massively popular they were – the biggest selling singles act in the WORLD in 1991, when people actually still bought singles in decent numbers, and all on their own record label too.
There is so much to say and rhapsodise over about the KLF (and so much has already been written), therefore I’ve decided to just highlight a few of my favourite KLF/Bill Drummond stories…
- “The Manual” – their blueprint on how to get a UK number one, based on their previous experience of doing just that as the Timelords, with “Doctorin’ The Tardis” from 1988.
- The KLF’s TOTP performances – jawdroppingly exciting, “Last Train To Traincentral” (linked to below) shows the pagan rave vibe onslaught in full effect, much to Simon Mayo’s confusion at the end.
- “Leaving the music industry” at 1992’s Brits, via a thrash metal performance of “3am Eternal” with Extreme Noise Terror (video link below), firing machine guns into the audience, dumping a dead sheep on the steps of the venue and deleting their entire back catalogue. They also won Best British Group that year.
- Duetting with Tammy Wynette on “Justified And Ancient (Stand By The JAMS)” – …they’re justified and ancient, and they drive an ice cream van…
- Bill Drummond and his mate Gimpo driving a van around the M25 non-stop for 24 hours, as documented in Bill Drummond’s superb memoir “45”.
- When manager of the Echo & The Bunnymen at the height of their 80s fame, drawing up a tour map in the shape of giant rabbit ears to include multiple remote Scottish islands and the like.
VIDEOS AND OTHER STUFF
- “3am Eternal” video on YouTube
- “3am Eternal” 1992 Brits peformance (introduced by Simon Bates!)
- Bonus video: “Last Train To Trancentral” on TOTP
- Other great KLF songs that just missed out include: What Time Is Love?, Last Train To Trancentral, Justified And Ancient (Stand by the JAMS)
- KLF aren’t on Spotify, so are therefore missing from my 379 to 50: 26 to 50 playlist
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