3 June 2020

Gimpo - Gimpo/ Version

KLF minder and roadie pushed into the spotlight

Label: Kalevala 
Year of Release: 1997

I've been slowly uploading Bill Drummond and Zodiac Mindwarp's Kalevala singles on to "Left and to the Back" over the last ten years or so for one simple reason - they've been given a place on here as and when I've found them at a price I don't find eye-watering. That has understandably taken quite a bit of time, as they're often flogged at unreasonable prices. 

A summary of the (limited) history of the label and its concept can be found here. If the idea was to unleash Z and Drummond's vision of how some fictional Finnish bands mentioned in the book "Bad Wisdom" sounded, however, this is probably the single which lets the fantasy down most. Gimpo, aka Alan Goodrick, was (and presumably occasionally still is) the KLF's roadie and minder, an ex-squaddie who is a well-known character to fans. He filmed the pair burning a million pounds, organises the regular 25 hour rally around the M25 (so he can find out where the road actually goes to) and generally emerges in the background at many of their events, sometimes piping up rather loudly. You can't disguise Gimpo as an undiscovered Finnish pop star - he's Gimpo. He's too loud to be mysterious, and his face doesn't fit into the theme of this series at all.

Nonetheless, we are where we are, and this is what we've got. "Gimpo" is a juddering piece of hard techno-rock using samples of the man talking about his exploits and escapades. "Gimpo Gimpo Gimpo!" voices roar in the foreground, like gowned cult members demanding the centre-stage return of their rightful leader. It's messy, noisy and chaotic, all hard edges and jagged pulses, but probably not the best KLF related record you'll ever hear. 

The not-at-all safe for work flipside is really a sweet and simple tale of Gimpo failing to score some crack off a Soho prostitute, in the man's own words, and is a salutary lesson for anyone who thinks "But she stole my drugs" is an adequate defence to offer a police constable for your irate actions. When the KLF burnt a million pounds, Gimpo claimed his mother was appalled, exclaiming "You hang around with people who do things like that?!" I can only wonder if she's heard this single. Probably not.

As we reach the end of the Kalevala story, it's perhaps worth a bit of reflection on the fact that these were - so far as we know - Bill Drummond's last officially released pieces of music. A full soundtrack LP for the book "Bad Wisdom" was slated then cancelled, and he wandered off into the wildness of who-knows-where to stage art events, one-off never-to-be-repeated-or-recorded live shows with The 17, and generally follow his whims and artistic desires. 

If the Kalevala releases prove anything, it's probably that there was life in the old dog yet. Maybe nothing as ground-breaking as "Chill Out" or as thrilling as "The White Room", but there were certainly some solid and occasionally seriously enjoyable ideas bouncing around in the tumble dryer of Drummond's mind. The best of these singles prove that an album consisting entirely of fictional Finnish bands performing in different styles could have been as interesting a listen as XTC's work under their Dukes of Stratosphear guise. As things stand, we're left with a small clutch of seven inch singles to make us consider what might have been. Drummond probably doesn't care and doubtless forgot all about this project within weeks of getting the records out for sale - but for us KLF fans, it's a peek at what might have been. 

You can listen to the other singles below:
Aurora Borealis: Aurora Borealis (this one is brilliant, btw)

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