Last Triumph To Trancentral- Library of Mu

Library of Mu record:
Title: Last Triumph To Trancentral
Date: 1991-09-01
Journal: Road Rocket
Author: Hugo Wilson
Type of resource: Interviews
Status: text
No. views: 2559
Description: Mainly a potted history, but also interview quotes mainly discussing Jimi's love of motobikes.


Last Triumph To Trancentral

By Hugo Wilson (1991-09-01, Road Rocket)

Only the KLF themselves really know what the Kopyright Liberation Front are about. Forget straitjacket descriptions like ambient house pop dance crossover stadium rockers, the KLF are masters of mystery, kings of konfusion and all that. They understand bikes, though, in their own unfathomable way

WANTED: ICE-CREAM VAN
1960S TYPE WITH ROCKET BACK LIGHTS
CONTACT KLF COMMUNICATIONS
PO BOX 283, HP22 5BW

THIS ADVERT clearly needs some explanation. The explanation involves silliness on a major scale. The KLF - The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu - The JAMS - Rockman Rock and Kingboy D. They may have other aliases. Their real names are, apparently, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty.

The most obvious thing they have done in the last four years is make a number of hit records. They have also made films and videos. They have also conducted a campaign of self promotion through the blunt use of graffiti and the weird happening. They are into motor-bikes and they are mad. Definitely Road Rocket material.

Drummond used to play for the Liverpool band Big in Japan. He went on to manage Echo and the Bunnymen. Cauty was the guitar player for mid eighties hopefuls Brilliant. That project came to an un-glamorous end. Both men were well sick of the music business in general and record companies in particular. They formed the KLF.

That was in 1987.

They began using primitive rapping and sampling techniques to make music. What this means is that they appropriated chunks of other people's records, mixed them up and made great dance tracks. A sort of musical collage. Nothing was sacred. They used everything from Samantha Fox to the Monkeys via Dave Brubeck and the Beatles. All you need to do this is some fairly basic and easily available electronic equipment.

Initially they operated as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu and put out their records on their own KLF label.

Unfortunately this sort of thing doesn't go down too well with copyright lawyers...

One of the songs they used was Abba's seventies hit Dancing Queen. Abba didn't like what the JAMS had done to their record, so they set wheels in motion to stop them. Bill and Jimmy set their wheels in motion to sort it out, their wheels being a 1968 police specification Ford Galaxie 500. Into this vehicle they bundled the remaining copies of the offending LP 1987. They also took a music journalist and a photographer. Destination? Sweden and Abba.

The trip wasn't a resounding success. They failed to see Abba, crashed into a moose, presented a gold disc to a Stockholm prostitute, burnt the remaining copies of the LP and returned with a very dead Ford courtesy of AA 5 Star travel insurance. Nice.

These days the KLF (Kopyright Liberation Front) are as philosophical about copyright law as they are about the AA. "We thought you could get away with breaking the law," says Jimmy. "You cant" The album is now a collectors' piece.

For their next escapade they changed their name to The Timelords and released a single called Doctorin' the Tardis. It was a Gary Glitter rock 'n' roll rhythm with a touch of the Doctor Who theme. The BBC hated it. It went to number one within three weeks of release.

They followed this up with a book. Entitled The Manual it carried the subtitle, 'How to have a number one hit the easy way'. Like most manuals, it was hilarious. Unlike most manuals, this was intentional. It also contains a money back guarantee. If you follow the instructions inside you WILL have a number one selling record. Towards the end of '88 the Ford was pressed into service for another trip. Scandinavia held no appeal. They went to Spain to make a film.

They've got six hours of film representing about two weeks driving. But the project is on hold. Bill explains, "It's that road movie thing, it can only end in death. We're not ready for that yet." Fair enough.

In 1989 they got on with what they did best - doing mad things and making dance records, specifically the track What Time is Love which provoked masses of unauthorised cover versions and copycat tunes. The KLF response was simple: collect all the bootleg copies onto an LP called the What Time is Love Story No one asked their permission to make the cover version, so no one gets asked if they want to be on the LP. Neat.

Another re-mix of What Time is Love made it to number five in the UK chart in the summer of 1990. This year 3am Eternal spent two weeks at number one. A third track, Last Train to Trancentral reached number two. The album The White Room, has been in the LP charts since its release in March. There's more - a 30 minute video called The Stadium House Trilogy. It contains the brilliant video for Last Train and other things. And there's going to be a world tour in 1992.

They have just returned from the outer Hebrides where they have been making a film while wearing druid outfits and Rhino horns. In fact they weren't interested in being photographed without some form of disguise. "We're trying to detach ourselves from reality," Bill explained. They are doing pretty well on that score.

We met them at a West London recording studio to hear bike stories. Bill, 37, kicked off with a tale of a paranoid weekend and a borrowed chopper. The details of the story are unprintable. His riding impressions of the machine are: "I'd never ridden a chopper before. It was absolutely horrible." Jimmy, 34, aced him with "The famous exploding Panther story". "It was my first big bike," he said. "The gearbox was tied on with rope and it had an armchair bolted on in place of the sidecar body. I was at one of those petrol stations which are unattended at night. You put 50-pence pieces in the machine and it lets you take the petrol. We were filling up and the bike caught fire."

Obviously Jimmy legged it, leaving a blazing bike on the garage forecourt. Some hero with a fire extinguisher put the blaze out before the premises went up in flames, but the Panther was a goner.

The charred Panther was replaced with a sunbeam 57, the BSA group's mid-fifties gentleman's bike. "The bloke I bought if off didn't want to sell it to me," Jimmy said. "He said I should buy a fast bike. He was right. It did about fourteen miles an hour and overheated."

As soon as he had made some proper money Jimmy bought a proper bike. It was a one-year-old US-spec 750cc Triumph Bonneville. This was 1977. It stayed US-spec for about two weeks before the high bars were junked and the development process began. The end result of fourteen years of use and abuse is seen here.

In fact there are now two Bonnies. The original bike has a blocked sludge trap and a multitude of other ailments. So the tank, seat and other assorted nick-nacks have been commandeered to get bike number two into the correct shape. But bike number on will work again. "When I've got time" says Jimmy.

For the photo session he gaffer-taped some fire extinguishers to it in place of the missing alloy tank. "They look brilliant. I'm going to have some proper tanks made like that," he said while running over the other details. Clip-ons are "essential". The headlamp stalk makes the whole bike look "longer and more animal like." Maltese Cross back lights are "optional", as are blown fork oil seals which squirt oil into your face when you brake.

The basic philosophy is keep it low, keep it long and trash everything you don't need. The only exception to this rule seems to be horns. The bike used to have four air horns: plenty loud enough. Unfortunately they used so much power that the engine would die if you used them. A minor consideration.

Jimmy comments that it would be nice to use the bikes in a video. Bill responds, "The trouble with bikes on film is that they don't blow up as spectacularly as cars."

"Yes," Jimmy agrees, "but they crash more spectacularly."

"And," Bill adds, "they're better for being shot off."

Jimmy changes the subject. "I can play guitar and ride a motorbike at the same time. I've been practising." Obviously a respectable magazine like Road Rocket cannot possibly endorse this kind of behaviour.

Their favourite road? The A4 gets the unanimous verdict. I wasn't quite able to fathom why.

The conversation continues. Bill expresses a preference for seeing scooters rather than shiny Vincents.

He also admits that he is "Not currently biking. I'm stupidly romantic about bikes. I know the reality is being absolutely frozen and I'm glad I'm not doing that now". Actually, his hobby is bird watching, which is fine too.

Pretty soon it's time for them to get back to the "unenjoyable" business of making a new single. It may come out around September. Their working title for the project is The Ice Cream Men. Which brings us back to the ice cream van. If you want to part with a relic of the sixties, sent us a card: we'll forward it..



Comments

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Posted by Guest on 2008-10-24 05:41:41

I seem to recall that this piece (from the second, and final, issue) had a picture of Jimmy Cauty sitting on a real lash-up of a combo. Long, straggly hair, army greatcoat, looking miserable as sin. The sidecar chassis had a threadbare old 1950s armchair strapped to it. The caption was excellent (possibly the work of Mark Graham). It read: "Mr James Cauty, a stickler for detail, and his painstakingly restored Panther combination." Mick P, Rome, Italy


Posted by Guest on 2009-10-06 12:22:47

i have a 1962 original commer mr whippy van in mint condition for filming tel david cummings on 01914604050


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