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Virtual Trouser burns a million quid

By culture editor DJ NRG Raver

Posted April 12, 2012
Mu Mu Land
Justified and ancient: And they drive an ice cream van. (Check bottom for credits)

It's grim up north so Virtual Trouser's all bound for Mu Mu Land with the KLF. But what time is love?

Welcome to Virtual Trouser, the interwebular arm of Naked Trouser (NT), the arse-kickingly top-banana alternative music night the rest all dream to be.

Thanks to YouTube, Metacafe and all those other video-sharing sites on the wibbly wobbly web, we can now take you on a journey through the genres and artists heard on a typical NT night without you having to leave your front door.

And this time it's stadium house and ambient beats in the company of those avant-garde pranksters, the KLF, also known as the Timelords, the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu and the K Foundation.

bill drummond
Avin' a larf: Bill Drummond shares a joke with the world. (Check bottom for credits)

Formed in 1987 by ex-Big in Japan member and Echo and the Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes manager Bill Drummond (alias King Boy D) and co-founder of the Orb Jimmy Cauty (alias Rockman Rock), the duo created a string of hit singles fusing acid house, hip hop and pop, as well as the classic albums The White Room and Chill Out, probably the greatest ambient record ever.

Essential tunes include What Time Is Love?, which samples Kick Out the Jams by 1960s proto-punk band the MC5, Last Train to Trancentral, 3am Eternal and Justified and Ancient with country and western singer Tammy Wynette on vocals.

Other top tracks include It's Grim up North, which namechecks numerous gritty places in the north of England before segueing into the William Blake-inspired hymn Jerusalem; America: What Time Is Love?, a guitar-heavy re-working of the original featuring the poodle-permed Deep Purple vocalist Glenn Hughes; plus their first UK number 1, Doctorin' The Tardis, a novelty track that samples the Doctor Who theme tune.

The success of Doctorin' inspired them to publish a book called The Manual, which describes in easy steps a foolproof method for creating a best-selling record with very little talent.

This recipe was immediately followed by Austrian joke band Edelwiess for their hit Bring Me Edelwiess (which went on to sell 5m copies) and later by previously-crusty-rockers Chumbawamba for their retirement pension cash-in Tubthumping.

Heavily-influenced by the chaos-based religion Dischordianism in addition to Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! trilogy and the Ancient Mystery Schools (Mu being another name for the pre-Atlantean civilisation of Lemuria), D and Rock used provocative "art-anarchist" techniques to promote themselves while employing bizarre costumes and imagery in their videos and live shows.

This all culminated in their final performance at the 1992 Brit Awards, where, after winning the 'Best British Group' award they combined with nosebleed grindcore band Extreme Noise Terror to produce a completely unrecognisable version of 3am complete with a blank-firing machine gun and a dead sheep.

They then announced Elvis-style that they had "left the music industry", deleted their entire back catalogue and then set off for a Scottish island to burn the remaining million pounds of their profits (see Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid).

So, following the procedure described in The Manual, get yourself down the studio, knock up a very simple bassline and shout a load of gibberish over YMCA or Live is Life and by the next Trouser sesh you'll have enough cash for a right royal bonfire.

And to give you a few pointers on your inexorable rise to the top of the charts, here's the KLF with Tammy Wynette taken from roo44burgman's YouTube channel. Just be quick about it because they like to roam the land. I hope you understand.

The original version of this article first appeared in Point Blank Poznan. Cheers, Steg. I'll drop off some toffee tomorrow.

See also Virtual Trouser fights war not wars, posted 12/4/12.

Picture credits

Top and thumbnail: Illustration by Ignatius Rake using original images by KLF Communications; Anders Haltman; Chris Gunns; and Pudelek (Marcin Szala).

Bottom: Original image by Thomas Ecke; rejigged by Ignatius Rake.

For licensing information click the above links.

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