Saturday, 5 March 2016

Oliver: The KLF - America: What Time is Love? (18 January 1992)

Trying to decipher the full history and motivation behind KLF releases can be a fool's errand, but the short story is that this was the third and final version of What Time is Love? to be released by them over a period of three and a half years.
If the 1988 acid house original was the starter and the 1990 rap and samples infused live version was the fish course then the Gulf War inspired, America: What Time is Love? saw them attempt to serve up the main course, dessert, after dinner mints, cheese board, coffee and liqueurs all in one go.

You can hear elements of the previous versions in this take: there's the woo-we synth sounds, a complete new rap from Isacc Bello, the "I Wanna See You Sweat" vocal etc, but these aspects from the past are battling for their lives in a classical-rock smorgasbord.  From the monolithic Last Post style opening, via the sampled riff from Motorhead's Ace of Spades to doomy choral refrains of "America", the lead singer of Deep Purple imploring us to live the American Way, pretentious soliloquies about how Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty found the continent 500 years ahead of Christopher Columbus and finally, an extensive US travelogue; it's overblown, demented, extravagant and wonderfully exciting (at least on the first couple of listens).  The sound of an entire kitchen, not just the sink, being thrown at the listener.  Peel could barely keep the chuckle out of his voice after playing it, "I don't give you a moment's peace, do I?"
Someone, somewhere has to be playing this every night on U.S. radio stations during the U.S. Election campaign.  Please God, say that it is so.  The title seems a more urgent question than ever in 2016.

Interestingly, this whole fill the stage with fireworks dance-rock-symphonic approach got me thinking of The Nice's cover of America from West Side Story.  Recorded at the last juncture in history that America found itself punching itself in the face so publicly, both the band and track were big favourites of Peel, who may well have introduced them on the show which gave us the legendary clip from How It Is.

Videos courtesy of  phattphucks (KLF) and Hanuvanarun (The Nice).

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