Every now and then there’s a song you love that is resolutely NOT on Spotify, thus messing up any playlists you want to compile.
Justified & Ancient by The KLF featuring Miss Tammy Wynette was one such song that’s proved elusive for years. The unconventional dance duo unexpectedly ended their 1992 Brit Awards performance with “The KLF have left the music business” via an announcer. The band then deleted their entire back catalogue.
Ignoring a less-than-one-day appearance on streaming services in 2013, The Recs are delighted by the surprise return of a selection of their music on Spotify.
Not least because it allows us ease of access to one of the most unlikely and infectious collaborations in the ’90s: Justified & Ancient.
Why We Love Justified & Ancient
The formula of a current younger band working with a music legend who was no longer troubling the charts had been successfully mined by the Pet Shop Boys who had worked with Dusty Springfield in 1987 and with Liza Minnelli in 1989.
The Art of Noise collaborated with Tom Jones on their Top 5 cover of Prince’s Kiss. Previously Sandie Shaw worked with The Smiths on 1984’s Hand in Glove and two years earlier, Tina Turner had guested on British Electric Foundation‘s Ball of Confusion.
It’s hard to know whether The KLF approaching “the first lady of country”, Tammy Wynette, to perform on Justified & Ancient was a continuation of this phenomenon or a subversion of it. Tammy herself found the collaboration equally unlikely. She is quoted at the time saying “I really don’t know why they chose me. I was apprehensive at first, but I’m really excited with the way it’s all turned out”, Wynette said. “Mu Mu Land looks a lot more interesting than Tennessee…. But I wouldn’t want to live there.” Regardless, it was a huge hit reach #2 in the UK single chart.
The song itself is an epic pop-dance track: tongue-in-cheek whimsy on a grand scale with a relentless whirl of riffs, raps, percussion and a killer chorus.
The NME grumpily complained about “F–king awful lyrics!” and yes the song does feature an ice cream van, Mu Mu Land and a masterplan but just go with the flow (and make mine a “99”).
A favourite lyric has to be:
“They called me up in Tennessee / They said “Tammy, stand by the jams”
One can only imagine the scene in Tammy’s Tennessee mansion leading up to this.
The phone rings and Tammy’s assistant picks up, listens and approaches the first lady of Country who is flicking through Hey Y’All magazine.
“It’s for you” the assistant announces.
“Who is it?” inquiries Tammy.
“It’s The KLF”
“Who?” asks a baffled Tammy.
“The Justified Ancient of Mu Mu” the assistant offers tentatively.
Tammy rolls her eyes. “What do they want?”
We adore the song in all its bonkers glory and what better way to start our regular Music on Monday feature than with Justified & Ancient!
Click on the Spotify link at the top of the article or enjoy the studio grandeur of the video!