Killing Joke - the four horsemen of the post-punk-rock apocalypse
October 8, 2007 9:10 AM   Subscribe

KillingJokeFilter: Killing Joke [Wardance | Primitive | Requiem (demo)] have just announced that they are to release re-mastered versions of four early LPs in early 2008. Again, these releases are stuffed with extras - remixes, rarities and b-sides, including two unreleased Radio sessions. This is the latest in a long line of re-releases from the band. Recently we have seen remasters of first four LPs (with extra tracks), The Unperverted Pantomime (rare live tracks, session and demos), Chaos for Breakfast (a five CD box of early singles, b-sides, alt & un-released versions, plus a CD of demos) and most recently the Bootleg Vinyl Archive, Volumes 1 & 2 (two compilations, each 3 CDs, bringing together some of the early classic Killing Joke vinyl bootlegs). Most of this material is from the period covering 1979 - 1985, which is without doubt when they made their most influential recordings. Indeed, their 25th Anniversary Live DVD from 2005 contains 17 tracks, and 13 of them are from this short period. Killing Joke played a pivotal role as UK bands emerged from the punk aftermath and established the post-punk/alternative/new-wave sound, and their five studio albums and 13 singles from this period (plus Geordie's signiture guitar sound) helped define its sound. So, fellow MeFite's, slap on the warpaint and look inside for my primer on Killing Joke - the early years... [previously]

[Note: This post does not duplicate the links in the previous Killing Joke post by psmealy except for a couple of the Tube performances (to put them in context chronologically)]

Jeremy "Jaz" Coleman (vox, keys, warpaint, classically trained), Geordie Walker (guitars, esp the 1952 Gibson ES-295, vox), Martin "Youth" Glover (bass, vox) and "Big" Paul Ferguson (drums, vox) formed Killing Joke in 1978 [discography | complete gig list | gigs (79-82) | gigs (83-87) | huge press archive | huge photo gallery]. Taking their influence from the punk/post-punk scene, and mixing it with the funk/bass sound of Pere Ubu, Gang of Four (reformed, new dates and LP) and Jah Wobble/PiL, they released their debut EP - Turn to red - in 1979 [original advert]. Initially Killing Joke's sound was a funk-dub-punk hybrid (typified by Requiem's B Side - Change), yet very little of this early output made it onto official recordings. However, Animal, Malicious Boogie, Nuclear Boy and You're Being Followed - taken from a famous cult bootleg from 1979 - all made it onto the Unperverted Pantomime compilation (2003). Malicious Boogie and Nuclear Boy also made it into their first John Peel seesion (1979). [Radio sessions make up a huge part of Killing Joke's output from this time - they recorded eight in this period (for John Peel, Kid Jensen, Richard Skinner and Capitol Radio). The recordings were always raw and some contained "officially" un-released material.]

1980 saw a change of direction and their sound became more tribal and bass heavy. Their second single Wardance (b/w Pssyche) established them in the emerging post-punk/alternative wave, and is still deemed by many to be their finest moment. Their self-produced eponynous debut (1980) is stark (with a re-recorded and slowed down Wardance) and grinds along industrially [Requiem | The Wait | Complications | Primitive (demo) | Change (Requiem's B Side)]. The gatefold inner sleeve artwork was inspired by a striking photo of the troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. Their second Peel session features three LP tracks and they also recorded a really raw session for Capitol Radio with a MASSIVE version of Are You Receiving, again now available on the Unperverted Pantomime compilation (2003, worth buying for the Capital session alone). The early Killing Joke sleeves, flyer and poster designs were iconic, and mainly produced by Mike Coles Studio C. They often included inserts, such as call up papers in Wardance. Here's a fantastic archive of early memorabilia, and here is another (including the artwork proof for the famous Pope poster)!

What's THIS For...!, [interview] produced by Conny Plank was released in 1981 [Fall of Because | Madness] and again brought a change in the sound - using more synths and synth-drums with a vaguely psychedelic soud in places. Another Peel session followed (again, three LP tracks). They also recorded a Richard Skinner Session - Exit, Tension and Unspeakable - but it is difficult to find.

Revelations was released in 1982 (again produced by Conny Plank). This brought Killing Joke back to their signiture sound, but with a heavier edge [Empire Song | Chop Chop | The Hum | The Pandys are Coming (named after Jaz's relatives The Pandys. Indeed, Jon Pandy - Jaz's cousin - is JC001 and once held the record as the fastest rapper in the world)]. The end of 1982 was interesting...They released a non-LP single - Birds of a Feather (backed with Sun Goes Down)- and a 6 track live mini-album - HA! (picture) (1982) and recorded a third Peel seesion. Jaz decided that the world was about to end - their is a nuclear/apocolyptic theme through much of their music - and skipped to Iceland, so when Killing Joke made their debut Top of the Pops performance they replaced him with a scarecrow. Geordie also went to Iceland and they both worked with Theyr [Blood] members from which went on to form KUKL and the Sugarcubes (both featuring Bjork). Youth left the band (to form Brilliant) and Paul Raven joined Killing Joke on bass.

Fire Dances (self produced) was released in 1983 [Song and Dance]. Their sound was now more polished but still relentless. (SelfIndulganceFilter: my first "proper" gig at the tender age of 15 was KJ @ Digbeth Civic Hall in Birmingham, UK in July 83 on the Fire Dances tour, supported by the fantastic Play Dead.). Kiiling Joke also made their debut appearance on the legendary UK TV program The Tube [Dominator | Frenzy | Eighties] and recorded their fourth and final John Peel session. 1984 saw the release of Eighties and a non-LP track A New Day being released as singles. They also recorded a Kid Jensen (Radio One) session consisting of Eighties plus three unreleased tracks - Blue Feather, All Play Rebel and New Culture.

In 1985 Killing Joke had their biggest UK hit with Love Like Blood, from the album Night Time (2005) [Darkness Before Dawn], with a slightly more commercial sound (produced by Chris Kimsey). This album also contained the singles Eighties and Kings and Queens, and a second Tube appearance followed [Night Time | Kings and Queens | interview with Paula Yates, then Love Like Blood]. Killing Joke started legal action against Nirvana for ripping off the guitar riff from Eighties on Come as You Are, but Cobain's untimely death halted it.

So, if you are a fan of the early Killing Joke sound, there is a mass of material that has been (re-)released recently:
  • Remasters of first 4 LPs (Killing Joke, What's THIS for...!, Revelations and HA!) - with extra tracks - demos, etc.
  • Remasters of the next four LPs coming early 2008 - two of which - Fire Dances and Night Time - contain Peel and Jensen sessions (released for the first time)
  • The Unperverted Pantomime (2003) - early singles, The Wait (demo) Capital session, and the original live bootleg - fantastic stuff
  • Chaos for Breakfast - 5 CD box - Turn to Red EP, Wardance, Requiem, & Follow the Leaders singles (plus all b-sides, alterantive & un-released versions), plus a CD of demos
  • Bootleg Vinyl Archive, Vol. 1 & 2 - two compilations (each 3 CDs) bringing together some of the early classic Killing Joke vinyl bootlegs:
    • Vol. 1 - Live London/Venue/Odeon - all pre-1982, plus a gig from 1988
    • Vol. 2 - Demos, Capitol session, two gigs from 1985 and one from 1994

(Pssst: if you like this period, check-out my Nick Cave post, with added Birthday Party! Shhhhh.)
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar (23 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Why did you not post all this in the very recent, very relevant KJ thread of which you are clearly already aware? -- cortex

Holy crapping crap on a stick.
posted by dismas at 9:12 AM on October 8, 2007

posted by quonsar at 9:15 AM on October 8, 2007

he did it again
posted by SageLeVoid at 9:16 AM on October 8, 2007

previous meta, since you appear to have not seen it and/or missed the point.
posted by blind.wombat at 9:19 AM on October 8, 2007


I kid because I love.
posted by dersins at 9:19 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by Pecinpah at 9:20 AM on October 8, 2007

"Killing joke" just entered the Mefi vernacular, but not as a band.
posted by DaShiv at 9:20 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

The previous Killing Joke thread is still open. Why is this here? You're forgetting the MetaFilter rules. The only band you can post about daily is Radiohead.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:22 AM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

Does this FPP win the prize for longest thread/more inside and hyperlinks?
posted by ericb at 9:23 AM on October 8, 2007

I wonder how Radiohead feels about Killing Joke.
posted by drezdn at 9:24 AM on October 8, 2007

I take hama7 over this, thanks.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:24 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't understand this post. Who is this band, and why should anyone care? If only there had been some other exhaustive post on Killing Joke that would explain why I should care about THIS exhaustive post on Killing Joke.
posted by shmegegge at 9:25 AM on October 8, 2007

poolio's got some competition!
posted by ericb at 9:26 AM on October 8, 2007


(And no steroids where used !)
posted by R. Mutt at 9:26 AM on October 8, 2007

I only want to read this much about musicians with whom I want to have sex.
posted by Taargus Taargus at 9:27 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Plutor at 9:28 AM on October 8, 2007

So tell me more about this "Killing Joke".
posted by Jofus at 9:30 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by porn in the woods at 9:31 AM on October 8, 2007

They're, like, a band, right?
posted by salvia at 9:33 AM on October 8, 2007

On the other hand, the Nick Cave post mentioned at the end of this FPP does indeed rock. the_very_hungry_caterpillar, have you heard Grinderman yet? What do you think of it?
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:34 AM on October 8, 2007

Please post your wikipedia articles on wikipedia.
posted by smackfu at 9:39 AM on October 8, 2007

(Pssst: if you like this period, check-out my Nick Cave post, with added Birthday Party! Shhhhh.)

What period? GYOFB.

And did you ask psmealey, by any chance?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:39 AM on October 8, 2007

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