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the Complete Review
the complete review - autobiographical



Annual Report

by
Bill Drummond


general information | our review | links | about the author



Title: Annual Report
Author: Bill Drummond
Genre: Autobiographical
Written: 1998
Length: 51 pages
Availability: directly from ellipsis
  • Annual Report to the Mavericks, Writers and Film Festival

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Our Assessment:

A- : small but substantial, and very entertaining

See our review for fuller assessment.




The complete review's Review:

       Bill Drummond is a man of many faces and talents. Best known for his musical work -- as producer for Echo and The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes, and as part of The KLF and The Timelords -- he has a flair for the unexpected. The undertakings that have at least the smell of publicity stunts and shock value get the most attention, but there is more there. Who would have thought that the man who doctored the Tardis would bring out an album with the twang of The Man (check it out at Amazon.co.uk) ? Similarly, the Annual Report is a long way from The Manual (see our review) or the K Foundation's various activities.
       This autobiographical work presents five episodes -- four short, one long -- that Drummond presents as his "annual report" for 1998. It is the year that Drummond finds himself strangely drawn to the Indian goddess Kali, "the greatest of all female deities." He is invited to go to Calcutta, repeatedly, until it is clear that the goddess has summoned him: karma or destiny, Bill has to go.
       The longest, central piece, Kali v Ted, describes his actual trip, a refreshing take on doing India. Ted Hughes is the unlikely guiding hand that accompanies him (Bill also gives Geoffrey Moorhouse's Calcutta book a try, but doesn't fare as well with it). The unlikely bestseller by the poet laureate (Birthday Letters) in hand Drummond travels across the subcontinent, tearing out the pages and littering them across the lands as he passes through by train. At Kali's temple he does the semi-touristy bit, and then manages to leave what's left of the book as an offering to the mighty goddess.
       Drummond's success is in his simple straightforward style (strenuously avoiding, as he keeps reminding the reader, descriptive detail) and his proper approach to India. He avoids the tourist trap of recording every bit of the nation or forcing oneself to be awed by it. He can't escape the tourist experience India has become, but unlike so many others (notably William Sutcliffe in his recent Are you Experienced ? (see our review)) he does not wallow in it. He does his Kali thing, and then he is off again. And still he manages to pack in a fair amount of substance, digressing and elaborating on poetry, women, and himself.
       Breakfast with the Unabomber is another excellent piece, with Drummond taking up the writings of the Unabomber and finding himself in surprising agreement with him (in a charming and believably confused manner). Here he also sets out with Iain Sinclair and lights out for the territory (a walk which Sinclair writes about in his Sorry Meniscus (see our review)). Offering almost the exact opposite of Sinclair's approach to writing, Drummond nevertheless conveys some neat little scenes and thoughts.
       The tone of these stories or reminiscences is just right, not pretending or seeking to be anything more than they are. And yet there is resonance here. Small and clever, Drummond actually manages to say something, and he says it well.
       An excellent little book, we recommend it highly.

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Links:

Annual Report: Bill Drummond:
  • Interview, with useful overview of his career.
  • Penkiln Burn site, with information about various Drummond projects and books.
  • Other books under review that might be of interest KLF (The Timelords): K Foundation:

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    About the Author:

           Bill Drummond once managed Echo and the Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes. He is part of the creative force (along with Jimmy Cauty) behind The KLF, The Justified and Ancients of MuMu, and The Timelords. As a member of The Timelords he had a number one hit with Doctorin' the Tardis. As The KLF and The JAMs he has been sued by ABBA, tried to recruit Whitney Houston to sing with the group, and convinced Tammy Wynette to do so (on the brilliant "Justified and Ancient"). As a trustee of the K Foundation he has burned a million quid.

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    © 1999-2008 the complete review

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