Peak UK Chart Position: #5 in September 1990.
Up four places to number seven, as announced by Bruno Brookes on this date in 1990, the KLF – Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty – were a week away from their chart peak with a track that had originally been released in 1988.
That version, known as the ‘pure trance original’, was quickly deleted due to low sales and lack of interest. A ‘pure trance remix’ would follow in 1989, but it would take until the following year, and a total reworking of the track for it to become a smash.
The ‘Live at Trancentral’ mix was created at the KLF’s recording studios – known as Trancentral – and the crowd noises are merely samples. It also added a rap, performed by Isaac Bello, whom – after an appearance on Top of the Pops – one (unnamed) Radio 1 DJ controversially suggested was a white man who had blacked up and put a wig on.
There would be two further commercially successful remixes of the track. “America: What Time Is Love” would add even more in the production, including guitars and orchestration It would peak higher still, reaching number four in March 1992. They memorably performed at the BRIT Awards that year, prior to the release of “America”, with hardcore punk group Extreme Noise Terror. The performance would end with Drummond firing blanks over the audience from an automatic weapon, together with the announcement that the KLF had retired from the music industry.
1997 would see a comeback of sorts, as “What Time Is Love?” was reincarnated as “Fuck The Millennium” by 2K (another Cauty and Drummond alias). It reached number 28 in the charts, and almost immediately features a brass band version of “What Time Is Love?” (performed, appropriately enough, by Acid Brass), before entering familiar overblown production territory.
The KLF have enough stories to fill several books (which you can probably pick up somewhere), so instead we’ll go back to a live Top of the Pops on August 30th 1990. I actually have this full edition on a VHS cassette somewhere; featuring Aswad, Sonia, Betty Boo, Jason Donovan and Bombalurina in the studio. Mark Goodier hosts and looks visibly impressed with the KLF’s performance afterwards…