The album’s opening song, “Hey Hey We Are Not The Monkees”, begins with simulated human sexual intercourse noises arranged as a rhythm. The album’s first plagiarism is a sample “Here we come…” from The Monkees’ theme. It progresses into a cryptic and bleak spoken verse from Drummond: “Here we come, crawling out of the mud, from chaos primeval to the barnyard sun, dragging our bad selves from one end of time, with nothing to declare but some half-written rhymes”. A cacophone of further samples from The Monkees’ theme and Drummond’s voice follow – “We’re not The Monkees, I don’t even like The Monkees!” – before an abrupt cut takes the track into an original a cappella vocal line that later became The KLF’s “Justified and Ancient” – “We’re justified and we’re ancient/We don’t want to upset the apple cart/We don’t wanna cause any harm”.
The track ends with a long sample of a London Underground train arriving at and leaving a tube station, with its mechanised warning to passengers, “Mind the gap…”. “Don’t Take Five (Take What You Want)” (sample (helpÂ·info)) follows, featuring The JAMs’ associates Chike (rapper) and DJ Cesare (scratches). Built around The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Take Five” and Fred Wesley’s “Same Beat”, the lyrics are cryptic: “I was pushing my trolley from detergent to cheese when I first saw the man with antler ears. I tried to ignore but his gaze held my eyes when he told me the truth about the basket of lies”. Sounds considered the message of the song (if any) to be secondary to its spirit: “This is piracy in action, with the venerable music industry figure, King Boy D, setting himself up as the Robin Hood of rap as he steals from the rich vaults of recording history”.
The first side of the LP closes with “Rockman Rock (Parts 2 and 3)”, a homage to Jimmy Cauty that plagiarises from an array of sources, including the “Bo Diddley Beat” and “Sunrise Sunset” from the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack.
The second side begins with “Me Ru Con”, an emotive traditional Vietnamese song performed a cappella – without backing instrumentation, rhythms, or samples of any kind – by The JAMs’ friend Duy Khiem. According to Drummond, it was a spontaneous recital by Khiem, who was in the studio contributing clarinet and tenor sax to the album. Khiem’s vocal performance was later sampled by The KLF on the ambient house soundtrack to their movie, The Rites of Mu.
“The Queen and I” (sample (helpÂ·info)) features long samples from ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”, often overlain with a rasping detuned accompaniment. These lead into Drummond’s satirical and discontent rapping, a fictional account of his march into the British House of Commons and Buckingham Palace to demand answers. The piece also protests the involvement of cigarette companies in sport (“When cancer is the killer/John Player run the league”) and lambasts the “tabloid mentality” (“They all keep talking about Princess Di’s dress”). The Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” is briefly sampled. After nearly three minutes of pure sample from the television show “Top of the Pops”, Drummond cries “Fuck that, let’s have The JAMs!”. The acerbic “All You Need Is Love (106 bpm)” (sample (helpÂ·info)) follows. A “stunning audio collage” featuring an AIDS public information film, a rerecording of glamour model Samantha Fox’s “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)”, and the nursery rhyme “Ring a Ring O’Roses”, “All You Need Is Love” comments on sex and the British media’s reaction to the AIDS crisis.
The final song is “Next”, which Drummond describes as “the only angst-er on the album”, with “imagery of war and sordid sex”. The track uses Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, Scott Walker’s “Next” from Scott 2, and Julie Andrews’ “The Lonely Goatherd” from The Sound of Music, alongside Khiem’s original melancholy clarinet and tenor saxophone contributions (“a saxophone of stupefying tediosity”, according to Danny Kelly).
Bill Drummond summed up The JAMs’ approach to composition in the first “KLF Information Sheet”, sent out in October 1987: “We made [the album] not giving a shit for soul boy snob values or any other values, we just went in and made the noise we wanted to hear and the stuff that came out of our mouths…. Not a pleasant sound but it’s the noise we had. We pressed it up and stuck it out. A celebration of sorts.” Jimmy Cauty defended sampling as an artistic practice: “It’s not as if we’re taking anything away, just borrowing and making things bigger. If you’re creative you aren’t going to stop working just because there is a law against what you are doing.”
In 1991, Drummond admitted: “We didn’t listen to 1987 What The Fuck’s Going On for a long time, and when we did we were embarrassed by it because it was so badly recorded. But I still felt we were able to get a lot out of ourselves through it.”
“Hey Hey We Are Not The Monkees (100 BPM)” â€“ 6:00
“Mind the Gap” [unlisted sample of ambient noise in a London Underground station] â€“ 1:02
“Don’t Take Five (Take What You Want) (89 BPM)” â€“ 3:59
“Rockman Rock Parts 2 and 3 (105 BPM)” â€“ 6:29
“Why Did You Throw Away Your Giro?” [unlisted] â€“ 0:20
“Me Ru Con (0 BPM)” â€“ 2:23
“The Queen and I (99 BPM)” â€“ 4:43
“Top of the Pops” [unlisted samples of television programmes including Top of the Pops] â€“ 2:51
“All You Need Is Love (106 BPM)” â€“ 4:55
“Next (100 BPM)” â€“ 7:15
â€œ This record is a version of our now deleted and illegal LP ‘1987, What The Fuck Is Going On?’ with all of the copyright infringing ‘samples’ edited out. As this leaves less than 25 minutes of music we are able to sell it as a 12-inch 45.
If you follow the instructions below you will, after some practice, be able to simulate the sound of our original record. To do this you will need 3 wired-up record decks, a pile of selected discs, one t.v. set and a video machine loaded with a cassette of edited highlights of last weeks ‘Top of the Pops’. Deck one is to play this record on, the other two are to scratch in the missing parts using the selected records. For added authentic effect you could use a Roland 808 drum machine (well cheap and what we used in the original recordings) to play along behind your scratching.