I’ve spoken before of my interest in The KLF, a legendary electronica act famous for not only releasing several great albums, but also things like announcing their retirement by firing a machine gun loaded with blanks at the audience of an awards show, writing a manual for writing a #1 hit without talent or money after “Doctoring the Tardis” hit the top of the UK charts, filming themselves burning £1 million in cash, coming out of retirement very briefly to do things like wreaking havoc onstage for 23 minutes while dressed like old men in wheelchairs and giant horns attached to their foreheads, or, most gallingly of all, deleting their entire creative output. I’ve managed to find two copies of White Room on CD, but the KLF’s other album (not counting the many, MANY, other albums they released under names like Space, the Justified Ancients of the Mu Mu, and even The Timelords) Chill Out has proven far more elusive. Fortunately, there are several uploads of the full album on YouTube.
And, in addition to all that, they finally released a new version of the album, called Come Down Dawn, to streaming services on February 4. However, it’s not quite the same album people were listening to in 1990. The original album clocked in at 44 minutes and 20 seconds, but Come Down Dawn runs a lean 38 minutes and 48 seconds. While this might not be ideal, it should be noted that many of the samples were unauthorised and could not be cleared for a new release, things like:
- The omissions include a BBC Radio 1 jingle from the Friday Rock Show featuring Tommy Vance
- “Stranger on the Shore” by Acker Bilk
- “Albatross” by Fleetwood Mac
- “After the Love” by Jesus Loves You
- “In the Ghetto” by Elvis Presley
And to change it even more, they’ve changed up the way the tracks were divided. On the first release, the whole thing was confined to one track (reflecting the duo’s conception of it as a single artwork), then it got a wide release divided into 14 tracks (some of which were titled to reflect the overarching theme of a road trip across the American South), and, finally, this edition, which has 12 tracks, and documents a far clearer trip from Brooklyn to Mexico City, and in the words of the band:
Come Down Dawn is a Drive by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. A Drive is a journey in the head. The Drive took them from the Reverend Doctor Wade’s tabernacle in Brooklyn, New York to the Mesoamerican Pyramids near Mexico City. The Drive lasted just over a period of 43 hours. The Drive ended as dawn began to break on Sunday the 4th of February 1990.
The track names reflect this change, with titles like “Brooklyn to Atlantic City” or “North Druid Hills to Atlanta.” Most of the tracks roughly correspond to the tracks of the official 14-track release, with the a couple pairs of tracks combined to one, three tracks removed entirely (most notably “Elvis on the Radio, Steel Guitar in My Soul”), and three tracks based on “What Time is Love (Virtual Reality Mix)” before the last track finishes us out.
I should point out that this marks the band’s second official release to streaming sites, their first being Solid State Logik 1, a collection of songs from the KLF, The Justified Ancients of the Mu Mu, and The Timelords previously only released as singles. The two albums are set to be part of a six-album series called Samplecity Thru Trancentral, which I hope ends up becoming a fairly exhaustive collection of their works, but given that this is a band that deliberately kept their entire oeuvre out of circulation for almost 30 years (and had to destroy most copies of their first album because it featured a stupefying number of unauthorised samples), I’m not sure of that.
But still, it looks like they now have an official YouTube channel, which includes many of their videos and even a full-length upload of Come Down Dawn.