Let's all go to the Fire Dances... again
October 6, 2007 4:49 AM   Subscribe

Who is Jeremy Coleman? According to the Beeb (in 2001), vocalist and keyboard-player Jaz Coleman was the co-founder of post-punk rockers Killing Joke, whose recording career lasted from 1980 to 1996 (with a brief hiatus in 1982, when Coleman fled to Iceland to await the apocalypse). Until it was Resurrected in 2003.

The many moods of Jaz and Killing Joke:

The Wait
Milennium (that's a young Jon Stewart on introduction)
A new Day
Kings and Queens

Lust Almighty
Sun Goes Down

Pandemonium (from Top of the Pops)
Money is Not our God
Hosannas from the Basement of Hell
Blood on Your Hands
The Death and Resurrection Show

Feel like dancing:
Let's all go to the Fire Dances
Love Like Blood

Seeing Red


Killing Joke's import and influence are broadly felt. Bands such as Nirvana, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Big Black, Prong, Metallica, Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, Econoline Crush, Faith No More and Korn have acknowledged KJ as a significant influence [from Wikipedia].
posted by psmealey (26 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Allright, psmealey, you done good!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:53 AM on October 6, 2007

For reference purposes. (joke's on you?)
posted by furtive at 5:51 AM on October 6, 2007

(joke's on you?)

posted by psmealey at 5:53 AM on October 6, 2007

posted by cortex at 6:11 AM on October 6, 2007

Fuck me, that performance of "Exit" is awesome. It's shitty quality, video wise, but it works incredibly well. Jaz looks completely insane. No other band looked or sounded like them, true originals!
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 7:02 AM on October 6, 2007

Excellent performance of "Wardance," previously unseen by me. "This is music to march to... to the WARDANCE!" Such great stuff.
posted by porn in the woods at 7:37 AM on October 6, 2007

That 'more inside' youtube player bug, as mentioned on the latest podcast sure would have made this post easier to navigate. And, seconding cortex with another Yay!
posted by tellurian at 7:37 AM on October 6, 2007

Thanks, what a fabulous collection of links. We just got Killing Joke's most recent CD (yes, we are old school) and love it.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:26 AM on October 6, 2007

I don't think the youtube player feature works if the youtube links are in the more inside portion, does it?
posted by psmealey at 9:29 AM on October 6, 2007

Been a Killing Joke fan for years, and never realized Jaz Coleman had some so much composing. Very cool.

Add Godflesh/Jesu as a very Killing Joke influenced band as well.

I once read a story covering one of the Lollapolooza tours. The gist was that the reporting had witnessed one of the members of Ministry teaching someone (one of the members of Lush?) some of the guitar riffs from a Ministry song. The person asked "oh, this is the Killing Joke one?" at which point the guy from Ministry responded "They are all Killing Joke songs.".
posted by alikins at 9:43 AM on October 6, 2007

Going to high school in the early 80s ("Eight-ies!!"), when everyone was putting the beat-down on everyone else based on their self-selected musical tribes, KJ was the one band that everyone (nihilistic punk rock dudes, glamourpuss new wave chicks, auto shop metalheads and classic rock jocks) could agree on.

I guess you could say they were the the Ferris Buehler of bands.
posted by psmealey at 9:54 AM on October 6, 2007

I saw KJ a couple of years back, when they were touring for their "Killing Joke" album. Jaz was insane, Raven looked like he was going to punch someone's heart out, and Paul never had a cigarette out of his mouth - he stood there calmly playing, no rock star posing or grimaces, and Armageddon was coming out of his guitar. They played (among others) Pssyche (one of my faves) and Asteroid - it felt like if they ever had the chance to pull the world down into fiery rubble, this was it.
Decades ago I was looking through Flipside, and the reviewers were listing their top 10 - one said that KJ's first album was in his best as it was what "every industrial band wants to sound like, but doesn't."
Malicious Damage has re-released their first four singles and all the demos of the first album as a five CD boxed set. The CD covers have the original artwork and inserts, and there's a bunch of pictures as well, showing KJ when they were really young. Also, there's the original artwork sources included. Expensive, but nice to have if you're a collector. I found it for considerably less than Amazon's USD $100 asking price.
posted by Zack_Replica at 9:55 AM on October 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks for reposting this psmealey.

Killing Joke becomes an obsession with me a few times a year, and I won’t listen to anything else.

I first heard them in '84, with what to me is probably their hardest and most "Earth vomiting" sounding record, Revelations. What a dark bleak depressive sound! I was listening to Crass and Joy Division around this time and I’m not sure how I didn’t end up opening up a vein. Dregs is devastating and horrid; the sound of a man who's been beaten into the smallest possible place, barely spiritually alive. Conny Plank pretty much gave them straight up what they wanted and it’s a post nuclear wasteland. Brutal.

It was only later that I discovered the (mostly) brilliant tribal sounding earlier records/songs (Follow the Leader, Change, Dominator). Along with PIL and Joy Div., a definitive post-punk rhythm section.

And then they went and put out Nighttime which seemed to come out of nowhere... I was walking around a record store (Bleecker Bob’s) when the guy behind the counter put it on. I was floored. KJ had taken all their best qualities and fine tuned them to incredible catchiness and beauty from the vocals and guitar without diluting any of the control and hardness . There's a reason Grohl worships KJ (as did Cobain). The drum playing/beats and bass lines on that record are diamond hard in their precision and power. Jaz's lovely unobtrusive keyboard playing was a revelation as well, putting everything into sharp relief. Darkness Before Dawn, Love like Blood move along a foreboding landscape like squadron of tired filthy poets, Kings and Queens has that heralding guitar riff that sounds like it’s going to blast into the stratosphere if not for the heavy staccato bass line and stuttering drums beating it back into control with what sounds like, rock-hard-fists in velvet gloves. And of course the brilliant Multitudes, Europe and everyone’s favorite, Eighties. Chris Kimsey should get an award for the production on that record. Nighttime is easily one of my top ten (sorry I go crazy trying to limit it to only five) desert isle discs. Hands down one of the best records of 1985.

I could barely wait to hear what they'd do next. Nighttime was a big break out charting hit (rightly so!) and I guess (KJ) and their record Co. (Brain Eno's EG Records) decided the time was right to push the envelope of commercial success with the release in 1986 of Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, which although it was a disappointment probably contains the most gorgeous song they ever wrote in Adorations. And you realize that not only can Jaz sing, but he does so beautifully. That song is hard to listen to in it's yearning and ache. I dismissed the rest of the record at the time as pap, until recently when I gave it another listen through. There are some very good songs once you get through the annoying over production. I'm afraid nothing will ever save the insipid Sanity or A Southern Sky , but Chessboards, Wintergardens, Rubicon, Goodbye to the Village and a few of the other songs are very good and could've been excellent and perhaps on a par with the achievement of Nighttime (they have the same awesome “bone structure”). If only the much increased production staff (Chris Kimsey, Chris Tsangarides, Stewart Levine) didn't make everything sound so BIG and SLICK and HIT SINGLE sounding. And that's the big problem on that record, it's a collection of singles as opposed to a record. Nighttime sounds contiguous and organic. The songs are understated and let the wound tight rhythms and vocals breathe, with a balance between tension and release. The Guitar explodes and shines and Jaz's keyboards keep everything beautifully modulated and cohesive. On BTATS everything is too ON all the time and competing for attention and the synths are overblown and verging towards that, now very dated and slightly goofy sounding 80 synth pop sound. I hope that someday the band and Kimsey remix it and give the songs a chance to work on their own merit. They have nothing to lose at this point. Most of the material on that record and the following, even worse (if possible) release Outside the Gate, has every been played live. Paul Raven, the superlative bass player on Nighttime asked to have his name removed from the credits for Outside the Gate.

I lost interest in the band after that point (I think the band themselves lost interest in the band) until Pandemonium came out in 1994 and the band seemed back onto an interesting sound, still dark and very percussive, they banked on the metal-esque techno sound that was so big at that time (Ministry, NIN) and, upon which they were a major influence. Jaz was back to his occultist violent romanticist lyrics. There are three standout great songs for me. The fun metal riffing Millennium and The lovely Jana and the hyper-propulsive White Out of which the remix by Johan on Wardance – the remixes is well worth it.

I skipped Democracy as it it seemed to be a lamer techno-metal regression on Pandemonium and stuck to listening to Nighttime and the earlier material, etc until I chanced upon a “best of / remixes” called Wilful Days and became enraptured with the song Are You Receiving?, which I’d never heard and came out on their very first self released EP in 1979 or so. Anyhow Are You Receiving? is as perfect a statement of intent as I can imagine. Raw, angry, catchy with this superb panning thing that happens to the guitar in the bridge around the 3 minute mark that is a blast. Listen to it with headphones. Marvelous stuff.

And so, like a junkie back on the smack, I’m listening to KJ all over again. Sometimes I get seriously repulsed with this band and have to push them away hard or I forget that there’s plenty of great bands not obsessed with this romantic apocalyptic occult groovy vision of the world.

I'm not sure how I missed KJ live, but I do remember reading in some fanzine, that their shows tended to get super violent, and their music had such a menace to it to me that I stayed away the very few times I had the opportunity to see them in NYC. Considering I'd been going to hardcore matinees’ at CBGB and had moshed to Husker Du (circa Zen Arcade) at the Peppermint Lounge. I can't imagine any KJ show being any more violent and insane than those.

Anyhow thanks again PSmealey, between this and the Shoegazer FPP I've wasted a good chunk of my Thursday and Friday...and now thanks to the revisions to this comment I originally tried to put up in yesterdays deleted post yesterday, my Saturday…and I think I’m going to have to quit the Metafilter before I Meta-fuck up my life.

No Joke.

No playing. Aural palatte cleaser Fire of Love by Gun Club.

posted by Skygazer at 9:58 AM on October 6, 2007 [3 favorites]

Oops...Now Playing. Aural palatte cleaser Fire of Love by Gun Club.
posted by Skygazer at 9:59 AM on October 6, 2007

Oh and PS you put up an FPP about the Gun Club and I might have to kill you...
posted by Skygazer at 10:07 AM on October 6, 2007

Hey, Killing Joke!

My favorite band. Hands down, bar none, nobody comes close.

Also, the best concert I ever saw.

Yes, Jaz Coleman is a very odd guy, but the music is just stunning.

Back around 1980 I dragged more of my heavy metal friends into punk rock by playing them Follow The Leaders than any other song.
posted by Relay at 11:15 AM on October 6, 2007

best of the web
posted by strontiumdog at 11:43 AM on October 6, 2007

Is this to lure Alex_in_NYC from ILX?
posted by klangklangston at 12:12 PM on October 6, 2007

Unfortunately, Killing Joke = the best band many people never heard of. This band has long been my secret, not because I'm hiding it, but because no one I know ever heard of them. I still have Brighter Than a Thousand Suns on cassette, of all things. Thanks for this!
posted by 1adam12 at 12:36 PM on October 6, 2007

Killing Joke
posted by wendell at 2:27 PM on October 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I remember those guys. They were pretty alright I guess. They're kinda played though.
*takes puff of of hand rolled american spirit cigarette*
*ajusts white belt on skinny jeans*
posted by Wonderwoman at 2:51 PM on October 6, 2007

The Fall - The Joke (1995)

The joke
five years in a PC camp
Multicoloured sweets
in bottom of white sweet pack
The realization burns into my back
The joke
five years in a PC camp

posted by porn in the woods at 10:36 AM on October 7, 2007

Great job, psmealey!

And I second the call for a frickin' post on The Gun Club!
posted by mwhybark at 11:40 AM on October 8, 2007

A lot of work went into this deleted thread...I'd hate to see it all go to waste. Tons of great KJ material in there as well.

Listening to the first couple of albums again after so long, I can't help but be amazed at how well they stand up. But I have to say...Killing Joke probably lifted that Eighties riff from the Damned's Life Goes On published five years previously. Who is to say Cobain didn't have a copy of Strawberries as well?
posted by malocchio at 2:48 PM on October 8, 2007

I sit in quiet awe of the_very_hungry_caterpillar's Killing Joke post. I will enjoy picking through that. Not sure if deleted posts are searchable, but if not, I think it would probably be good to repost all that as a comment here. It would be a shame to waste such a gargantuan effort.
posted by psmealey at 3:02 PM on October 8, 2007

RIP Paul Raven.
posted by Skygazer at 5:58 PM on October 22, 2007

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