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Turn Up the Strobe Paperback – 7 Aug 2017
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About the Author
Ian Shirley is the current editor of Record Collector's Rare Record Price Guide and has written biographies on Bauhaus, The Residents, Pink Floyd and Green Day, as well as the definitive guide to the links between music and comics. As a music writer his work has also appeared in a broad range of other publications. He would like to stress that no sheep were harmed during the writing of this book.
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But surely Cherry Red could have sent this out for proofreading. I do find it difficult getting on with a book where I'm constantly derailed by spelling errors or working out what a sentence is trying to say when the words are in the wrong order.
Beginning with their earlier days in the record industry, the opening two chapters are divided between Cauty and Drummond so as to follow their courses through the industry individually before they come together. Some of this material is, perhaps, in some ways more interesting as it covers areas not so famously reported on before.
Inevitably once The KLF engine gets going to full effect a lot of the content is quite familiar to those even with minimal knowledge of them. There is also a slight leaning to the narrative towards becoming a bit of a list at times. Even so, there is plenty to be learnt about other acts they were associated with, influenced or helped to establish from famous acts such as Echo and the Bunnyman and The Orb to lesser known ones such as Disco 2000 and Brilliant.
Despite the author’s declaration that this book is about The KLF themselves rather than their ‘stunts’ or ‘philosophies’ some of this content inevitably slips into the narrative. He sticks to this as best he can but it is virtually impossible to divorce the KLF’s music endeavours from their extraneous activities and exploits. They are an integral part of The KLF.
Even so, the book culminates with the build up to the notorious burning of a million pounds opting to end its account of The KLF’s activities on 22nd August 1994, the day before said event took place and the resulting ‘twenty-three years of silence’ due to end today.
The book therefore doesn’t go on from this point and there is no inclusion of Drummond and Cauty’s post KLF exploits by 2K, the K-Foundation decision to release ‘The Magnificent’ or the delivering of poetry around the Irish counties.
Overall, this book clearly shows that there was infinitely more to The KLF than half a dozen massive hit singles or the burning of some money; the two things they have become predominately and historically known for, overshadowing much else of what they have done.
One thing the book makes clear is that there is no way of knowing what The KLF will do next. And after ‘twenty-three years of silence’ welcome to the dark ages.