During the late 1980s/early 1990s, British dance duo, The KLF was one of the biggest groups in the UK, with hits including ‘Justified & Ancient’ and ‘What Time is Love?’. Then in 1992, the group decided to call things quits, deleting their back-catalogue in the process, before vanishing overnight.
But where did they go and why did they leave the music scene? These are questions that many fans have found themselves pondering over the years, but now they can finally have some answers.
In new documentary film, Who Killed The KLF?, the story of the group is re-told from start to finish. The docu-film – which is now available to rent or buy through digital platforms – looks back at the origins of the group, and its various incarnations, and discusses their success and failures.
Directed by Chris Atkins, Who Killed The KLF? is a fascinating piece of film, designed to transport the audience back to the past, to a time when acid house music and techno-funk took over the charts. The docu-film acts as a window to a unique point in British pop culture, where dance music became part of the zeitgeist, and an unusual group such as The KLF could take the pop scene by storm.
Who Killed the KLF? features input from various industry insiders and commentators, including writer Alan Moore, DJ Carl Cox, former Radio One producer Claire Fletcher, and KLF distribution manager Peter Thompson, amongst others. The film is built around soundbites and archive footage, and features snippets from old TV interviews, Top of the Pop performances, and clips from The KLF’s music videos.
The docu-film also features a discussion about The KLF’s appearance on the 1992 BRIT Awards, and the group’s decision to create an art exhibition out of their earnings, using a million pounds in cash which they nailed to a board. All aspects of The KLF’s career are covered, highlighting the weird, wonderful, and often quite bonkers ideas that surrounded the group, and all is rather intriguing.
At the heart of the film is a look at the creativity and the chaos of The KLF, and how they ripped up the rule books when it came to pop music. Their career may have only burned bright for a short period of time, but their legacy has lasted much, much longer, and that’s what Who Killed The KLF? is very interested to showcase.
Could this docu-film run longer and go much deeper? Perhaps, and I would have certainly been interested in learning more; but what is offered up here does the trick and it does it without outstaying its welcome.
Like all good docu-films, Who Killed The KLF? is ideal for those who have an interest in the subject matter, but arguably works best for those who know next-to-nothing about the group. It sets out all of the key details of The KLF’s journey, has enough material to keep things interesting, and leaves the audience wondering if KLF members, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty were pop-infused geniuses or just brilliant blaggers.
Most important of all, it showcases just how strange the British pop scene can be, and how two would-be musicians can change the course of their careers, and shake-up the industry by just being different. Ultimately, whatever your view of The KLF is, they certainly brought something new to the table and this alone earns them a seat in the Pop Hall of Fame.
If you want to know more about The KLF or you are interested in learning about their unique story, I suggest you give Who Killed The KLF? a whirl. Watching this docu-film won’t change your life, but it will certainly open your mind and eyes to some of the quirkier aspects of British music and for those who grew up in the UK during the early ‘90s, it will give you a healthy shot of nostalgia too.