blast first / mute records | 12″/cd bffp146t / bffp146cdk | 29/09/1997
‘What Time Is Love?’, ‘3AM Eternal’, ‘Last Train To Trancentral’ – all songs synonymous in my memory with my first love affair with music generally and dance music specifically. The late eighties, and the ensuing dance-tinged early nineties were a great time for an electronically-minded boy to be getting into music, and The KLF played a major role in piquing my curiosity. Later, at university I managed to track down original 12″ versions of the re-released ‘What Time Is Love?’ and ‘3AM’ and, in my first and only attempt at DJing, managed to beat-mix the two tracks perfectly using the campus radio station’s decks and cross-fader. Good times.
On the back of the three classic singles above, I bought The White Room, and was hugely disappointed; the straightahead dance tracks were nowhere to be seen, and the whole album hung together disjointedly. The anarchistic / artistic events that followed, the dead sheep and thrash-metal with crutches and rifles version of ‘3AM’ at the Brit Awards, the Tami Wynette version of ‘Justified And Ancient’, the whole Justified Ancients of Mu-Mu faux-cult thing generally; all of this left me thinking The KLF a little silly, and it altered my affections toward the triumverate of singles above.
Nevertheless, by 1997, my addiction for buying all things Mute and a renewed interest in the ‘mythology’ I suppose you’d call of it of The KLF, I was really excited by the prospect of this single. Adopting the moniker 2K, Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond reunited specifically for one single on Blast First, following the inclusion of ‘What Time Is Love?’ on the Jeremy Deller-compiled Acid Brass album.
With the combining together of the music I loved as a teenager and my favorite record label, I was pretty excited about this single. I remember vividly the day I bought this. I also bought the second volume of Nick Cave‘s King Ink lyrics collection, and it was during a period where futures were being decided and graduate placements were being applied for. There was a rising level of noise around the coming new millennium and the unifying celebrations that would be had that year, the Millennium Bug was being lauded as the end of modern civilisation, and this single aimed to tap into that excitement. And just like most of those supposedly exciting things, none of which lived up to their hype, neither does the 2K single.
The central ‘point’, if indeed there is one, of ‘***k The Millennium’ is the line ‘F**k the millennium / We want it now‘, which is meaningless and also fundamentally impossible to achieve. The duo also take the opportunity – chortle, chortle – to open the track with a shouted ‘1997 – what the f**k’s going on?‘, referencing the album from a decade before with which the ‘controversy’ that often circled Cauty / Drummond (and which now seems childish) began.
At almost 14 minutes, ‘***k The Millenium’ is an in-joke taken too far, combining pointless sloganeering and the same form of pompous spoken word passages that ruined the rocked-up version of ‘America : What Time Is Love?’. The only redeeming feature of this song is the usage of a section of acid-house burbling from the original, rare as hen’s teeth, ‘What Time Is Love?’; but when placed alongside shouted nonsense, horns and repeated expletives one has to ask: what’s the point? Far better to track down that original classic than indulge this disappointing nail in the Koffin.
Alongside a single edit, and a radio-friendly swearing-free version thereof, there’s an alternative version of the Williams Fairey Brass Band‘s take on ‘What Time Is Love?’. With so much rear-view mirror action going on, one is left with the inescapable notion that this was a parting shot from a duo who were looking back fondly on their achievements from yesterday, themselves wondering where the ideas went and what the point of this single actually was. (The 12″ includes a Pan Sonic remix of the Acid Brass track which is probably worth owning; I still don’t know whether I’ve got it or not.)
A. 2K – ***k The Millennium
B1. Acid Brass – What Time Is Love? (Version K)
B2. Acid Brass – What Time Is Love? (Version P – Royal Oak Mix by Pan Sonic)
1. ***k The Millennium
2. Acid Brass – What Time Is Love? (Version K)
3. ***k The Millennium (Radio Edit)
4. ***k The Millennium (Censored Radio Edit)
First published 2008; edited 2014
(c) 2014 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence