Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Timelords - The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way) (1988)

Recently I found a html version of this classic text online. I've saved it as a text file (so as to delete all those embedded adverts) and encourage you to take a look. It's not exactly a magnum opus - only 36 pages when printed out onto A4 paper, and it took en easy 3 lunch breaks to read.
Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed. Very well written, intelligent, humorous and enlightening.

For those not in the know, The Timelords are King Boy D and Rockman Rock, also known as Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty - but you might know them better as The KLF. Cauty was also half of The Orb (with Dr Alex Patterson). They produced one of the greatest ever rave techno tracks in "What Time Is Love? (Live At Trancentral)", and also some of the worst pop dance ever with "Kylie Said To Jason" and "Justified & Ancient" featuring Tammy Wynette. These guys are geniuses - of real artistic merit, and not afraid to take the piss - hence "Justified & Ancient" I suspect.
Apart from their pop sensibilities, the KLF probably launched the ambient dance movement with the "Chill Out" album - which even 20 years on is still fucking brilliant; I also submit that they helped define what proper trance music is with their original pure trance mix of "What Time Is Love?". Released in 1988, it is a serious piece of blissed out mind fuck - way ahead of any of the Belgium/German New Beat of the time.
I don't think any of their catalogue is still commercially available so I might post a few of their choice cuts later.

Anyway, in 1988 Drummond and Cauty got a #1 in the UK pop charts with "Doctoring The Tardis", which basically laid parts of the Dr Who theme over the rhythm and beats of "Blockbuster" by Sweet and "Rock & Roll, Part 2" by Gary Glitter - both glam-rock hits.
I would never rate this as anything more than a lager friendly mashup (I remember getting down to it at an underage nightclub when it was released; yes, it's a sad memory), but it was one of the first success stories of blatant audio sampling as creative endeavour. The duo claimed it had been a conscious effort to make a pop hit, and wrote a manual on how they did it - with a money back guarantee that anyone else could do it too. At least one band claimed to have made a #1 following it - Edelweiss' "Bring Me Edelweiss" - it is a truly dire piece of turd, and it sold 5,000,000 units. Go figure.

How did they do it?
How can you do it?
Read the book - even now it's still relevant, and a great insight into the act of musical creation and of the music business in general.

text file ...mediafire

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