Killing Joke

Wasn't that just the kookiest Monty Python skit?

* special introductory paragraph!
* Almost Red EP
* Killing Joke
* what's THIS for...!
* The Unperverted Pantomime?
* Revelations
* The Peel Sessions 1979-1981
* Ha! Live EP
* Fire Dances
* Night Time
* No Way Out But Forward Go
* Brighter Than A Thousand Suns
* BBC In Concert
* Outside The Gate
* Wilful Days
* The Courtauld Talks
* Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions
* Inside Extremities, Mixes, Rehearsals And Live
* Bootleg Vinyl Archive Vol. 1
* Laugh? I Nearly Bought One!
* Pandemonium
* Bootleg Vinyl Archive Vol. 2
* Democracy
* Wardance: The Remixes
* Killing Joke
* Requiem: Lokerse 2003
* XXV Gathering: Let Us Prey
* Hosannas From The Basement Of Hell
* Duende: The Spanish Sessions
* The Gathering 2008
* In Excelsis EP
* Absolute Dissent
A strange band from Britain. No, the music's not that odd, really - it's the band members who are a little mucked up. They broke up after their third noisy guitar-heavy album because, supposedly, singer Jaz Coleman's paranoia reached such a feverish peak that he fled to Iceland to await the apocalypse. Luckily, guitarist Geordie, presumably overcome by the same strange notion that residence in the country of Iceland would somehow protect one from the devastation of Armageddon, soon followed. Then the drummer came down too.

So? They reformed!!! Shortly thereafter, they somehow turned into a smooth synth-driven band and broke up again after their seventh (and worst) album because of a dispute with their record company. After that, according to legend, Jaz went a little nuts and hired a hitman to kill one of his enemies at the record company or something before stopping himself just in time, finally realizing that he was simply having a nervous breakdown.

So? They reformed!!! And they were a noisy guitar-heavy band again!!!! Then? They broke up. A couple years later, guitarist Geordie was brought in to help compile a Killing Joke greatest hits album, at which point he contacted the band's original bassist Youth (not his real name), who had quit the band back during that rough Iceland period. Youth offhandedly suggested that they reform the band.

So? They reformed!!! Apparently they're still together (and still pretty damn good, if I may speak for myself!!), but I'll keep you posted of any new developments in this ridiculous (yet catchy!) musical soap opera.

By the way, if you've read any obnoxious Jaz interviews in which he talks about Killing Joke being the most intense band of all time, please keep one thing in mind - we're not talking about normal human beings here. THEY FLED TO ICELAND TO AWAIT THE APOCALYPSE. Roll your eyes all you want, but don't toy with the emotionally disturbed.

Almost Red EP - Island 1979
Rating = 6

Killing Joke's first EP was actually called Turn To Red, but Almost Red features the exact same songs with one extra (entitled, incredibly enough, "Almost Red") so I figured I'd jump right to it.

At the time, Killing Joke was heavy into reggae. Praise Jah this interest did'nt prevail over the long term. They weren't the worst white toasters in the world or anything (although "Nervous System" certainly sucks -- "Nervous System/I don't like it"? I can relate!), but slow bass-focused reggae is just no match for the vicious, brilliant rock music at which they would soon excel. This future of tension and genius can be glimpsed in only one song: the classic anxiety-riddled "Are You Receiving?" Although more keyboard-focused than most of their later work would be, the song is a scorcher and absolutely a defining moment for the band.

Of the other tracks, "Turn To Red" is a PIL-style piece of dub reggae that works, and "Almost Red" is the same song with silly beep-beep synths plopped on top of it.

Guitarist Geordie is badly under-utilized on this EP. Luckily, this too would change post-haste.

I can see you're depressed about this whole Tiger Woods adultery controversy, so let's close with a few jokes:

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Almost Red!
Almost Red who?
Almost Red (read) the newspaper, but then realized it was all about Tiger Woods cheating on his wife. :7(

Why did Tiger Woods take a second lover?
He'd already scored three holes in one. :7C

What's the difference between Tiger Woods and his 1-wood?
His 1-wood is a decent driver. :7&

When Tiger Woods came home and told his wife he'd been out cleaning his golf equipment, how could she tell he'd actually been with another woman?
His balls were dirty. :7O

Okay, now we're all happy! Good night!

Add your thoughts?

Killing Joke - Malicious Damage/EG 1980.
Rating = 8

By the time of their debut LP, Killing Joke sounded a bit like early Wire in an alternate universe where The Ramones never happened. Understand? Wire began their career as arty punks (or punk artistes); Killing Joke sound like arty Led Zeppelin fans with a synthesizer. Great stuff, though! Real tight arrangements combine the sterile fuzzy sound of industrial keyboard buzz with the tough raw sound of electric guitar rock and dub-touched bass before being clobbered over the head with throat-stripping (and occasionally electronically enhanced) British vocals singing depressing ditties like "Requiem," "Wardance," and "Bloodsport" (which, perversely enough, are BY FAR the poppiest tunes on the record). The mix is fantastic and, even today, everything still sounds very fresh and danceable, even when the guitar is chuggin' out vicious Nazareth riffs like "Primitive" (later covered by Helmet!) and "The Wait" (later covered by Metallica!).

Not every song registers unfortunately, but the mix of guitar-driven rock and roll and arty cold wave is an interesting one indeed. Don't get all excited, though - they never recorded another album that sounded anything like this (except possibly Pandemonium, but we'll talk about that one later). The band line-up for these first three records was Jaz Coleman on vox/keys, Kevin "Geordie" Walker on guitar, Martin "Youth" Glover on bass and Paul Ferguson on drums.

Reader Comments (Doug Swalen)
Having never heard another Killing Joke album all the way through, I have to say that this is the best ever Killing Joke album I've heard all the way through.

Okay that didn't make too much sense (but after that Introduction at the top of the page, I feel somewhat dazed...maybe I should go to Iceland to await the Apocalypse?).

I'll still give this album a 10 though. Every song may not register with Mark, but every song registers with me. I had thought these guys were sort of a lightweight combination of New Order and Kraftwerk. Fun (albeit a little in the Twilight Zone) synth pop. That is until "The Wait" came on. Then I saw the real genius of the music. These guys weren't pansy Liverpool synth freaks like Depeche Mode. These guys were techno punks. And good ones. Man I could go on and on about "The Wait" and just how cool it is. Drums without any hi-hats or cymbles crashing. A nasty guitar riff. A great synth noise in the background. And some truly disturbed and angry vocals and lyrics. It doesn't come off nearly as well on CD as it does on Vinyl. But so what? It's still "The Wait" and it still kicks ass. I'd give this album a 10 for this song alone. Fortunately there are other great tracks like "complications", "requiem", "wardance", and "bloodsport" but it's "The Wait" that sticks out head and shoulders above the rest.

That Metallica version Mark alluded to just is so lame compared to the original (and I heard the cover first and loved it until I heard the first bar of the original).

I don't get the Led Zepplin reference though. I don't even hear Zep on this album. Kraftwerk? probably. Zep? No way. (Stuart McKay)
untouchable. (Daniel Lawrence)
I don't like it. I know you all do, but I got it and wasn't impressed. Mediocre to me. I don't understand what's so great about it. I've given it its chance and it always fails. It's not fun, it's not powerful, it's not interesting. Lame. Some songs are okay and for that I give it a 5/10. (Chay Parsons)
I think the first album is one of the strongest in some ways. It seems to perfectly capture that early 80's post punk 'cold war - waiting for the bomb to drop' vibe. Favourite track for me has got to be 'SO36' which I find very atmospheric, but Requiem, The Wait, Compications, Tomorrows World and Primitive are all good too. In my opinion the sigle version of Wardance is better than the one included on the album and they should have stuck Psycche in too instead of Bloodsport. Missing from the English version but apparantly included on the US one is 'Change' which is a kick ass song if ever I heard one and should have been included. (John Norton)
i dont usually post messages, but i was moved to by a previous message on this site. killing joke is a great punk/ industrial/ metal sounding at times, band. i did not get the led zeppelin or the "nazarith" referance made by a previous posting. killing joke came out of an era that was frought with corporate monster rock bands like fleetwood mac and led zeppelin. its not to say that i dont like led zeppelin, its just that killing joke is in an entirely different universe. they were a punk band that probably despised zeppelin and nazerith. i almost fell out of my chair when the nazerith referance was made. maybe i should lighten up, but im a punk at heart and an anti-commercial musician myself. i guess im a punk purist. killing joke is not like led zeppelin, they are the opposite in many ways (Yue Ting Cheng)
Astonishing debut from Joke.... The stark imagary of sillouhetted yuppies and other idoits of society on a wall allo with machine like attachments, to the inner sleeve wherby we look at religious figures, more yuppies, a co-orperate face and a stone statue of a hand (representing power)- all in black and white. Killing Joke's theme in a world of uncaring capitalist corporations, global warming and dwindling natural resources, war hungry fuckwits like George Bush and Tony Blair etc etc is more relevant now than ever so before... Killing Joke wern't just a one dimensional punk or industrial band, they blended elements of both (Industrial before Industrial had been coined as a term) plus other things. On this record, the sound is predominantly punk, with some vocal tweaks and synth lines, that add to an overall feeling of Bleakness. Great stuff. (10/10)
I think lil' Stevie Albini got a lot of his ideas from this record. Like falling off a motorcycle and learning how to play bass as part of your recovery as heard in the song "falling off a motorcycle and learning how to play bass as part of your recovery." IT WAS AHEAD OF IT'S TIME. (Rob DelMedico)
Whoever just called Led Zeppelin a 'corporate monster rock band' doesn't realize how hard I just laughed at that.

corporate? sorry, the dinosaur rock term you're slapping unfairly on Led Zeppelin, who started a fairly catchy blues ripoff group and branched their sound out over time to include lots of diverse influences really belongs to late Journey, late Foreigner, or later REO Speedwagon. fuckhead.
I give the debut by Killing Joke a very high 9. Honestly though, Killing Joke are one of my favorite bands of all time, so I'm tempted here to throw out lots of 10s...especially for some of these early ones, BUT the one 10 rule is a good rule...and as we all know rules are rules and that's how it goes. Although it's not my absolute favorite KJ album, for anyone just getting into this band, I think this is the best introduction to their style of music. Why? Cause on this album, the production and mix are really strong and the melodies are all fantastic. Their style has always been fairly ugly and abrasive, this album included...but right after this album they sort of dissolved their sound into a totally unique, muddy, rackety, peircing, repetitive, tribal and decidedly delicious apple pie of fear and insanity which is far from accessible. For myself, it took! a pretty long time for me to really get into them because of this fact. It's like apocalyptic, mostly bass-driven post-punk of some strange sort with minimal keyboard-noises. Every song here is a winner. I highly recommend it to anyone. I think it's an extremely ground-breaking, unique, consistent album by a band that was (and still is) remarkably way ahead of their time.
This album is amazing, still fresh and inspirational. I don't really know another band who make a sound like KJ. I saw them at Aylesbury Friars (UK) about the time that this album was released and they walked off stage halfway through cos of the punks gobbing at them got too much. For those who don't know, punks used to gob at bands they LIKED. I agree with those who have mentioned not understanding the Led Zep reference. Led Zep were great, but the sound and attitude they had was from another world to KJs (do you think Led Zep ever got pogoed to and gobbed at)? I went to see KJ at Shepherd's Bush (west London) for their XXV Gathering (get this new live album if you want to hear that attitude and intensity) earlier this year and it was full-on: still a fair bit of mental pogoing, but thankfully no gobbing — punks may grow old disgracefully, but I reckon if some of us started that gobbing our false teeth would fly out too! Wouldn't have made sense to only see half a set anyway (I know, I know, that's not punk!). To anyone who doesn't "get" KJ, I'd suggest you listen harder, but give up trying to "get" them. Just enjoy. Anyway, KJ is always evolving. To me and many others they are an attitude, a noise, a lifestyle, a dance, a warning. By the way, keep an eye to the skies for that asteroid...
I just got me a copy of the INCREDIBLE Killing Joke debut, goddamn why did I waited this long!?!? You were more than right, it is definitely one of the best albums ever created. EVER. Having never heard KJ before but following your advice (And that of your readers), I can honestly say THANK YOU SO VERY FUCKIN’ MUCH!! Next I’m buying LAUGH and then probably KJ2006 and the DVDVDVDVD…. New KJ Fan for life!!!
I just downloaded the Foo Fighters cover of "Requiem" out of curiosity, because (A) "Requiem" is an awesome song, (B) the cover was recorded during the sessions for The Colour and the Shape, the last Foo Fighters album that had any good songs on it, and (C), Mr. "Dave's Not Here" Grohl did a fine-ass job on the drums on the 2003 Jokers album, so I figured he might do a Killing Joke cover with a little goddamned passion and meaning.

Well, think back to Mr. Bungle's "Slowly Growing Deaf," when Mike stops singing, walks out of the room, walks up (or down) some stairs, walks into a bathroom, and takes a loud, messy diarrhea shit. That's this cover.

Okay, the synth part is played on guitar, which is alright. But Mr. Grohl decided to experiment with the vocals, doing the exact *opposite* of Jaz, making them quiet and soft instead of angry and shouty. Give him points for trying something new, I guess, but man, talk about fuckin' ruining the song. And it's not just the vocals; every band member sounds sedate. A Sigur Ros version would have no less energy or soul. Grohl's "Requiem" is elevator music.

I'm not sure what to make of Commenter #1's remark about Metallica's cover of the "The Wait" being "just so lame compared to the original." I do like the original better, and I'm not crazy about James's vocals in the cover, and the chorus kind of sucks (but let's be honest, it kind of sucks in both versions of the song), but goddamnit, you've got to have the taste of a Britney Spears fan to not love the loud fucking crunchy guitars they brought to that song. They did exactly what a good circa 1987 Metallica cover should do; make it sound like a good circa 1987 Metallica song. Any Misfits fans who don't like their cover of "Green Hell" can piss off as well.

Speaking of Metallica and Thrilling Poke, doesn't it kind of suck that they did new Diamond Head and Misfits covers when they made Garage Inc, but not a new Jokers cover? Any ideas for what songs might work? They need to do a Garage Days Re-Re-Re-Revisited, or whatever. I'd buy that shit like it was 50% off day at the liquor store.

Oh, and "Change" sucks a used tampon. My comment down there for Laugh? I Nearly Bought One! about Killing Joke 1980 being so good that it should count as a greatest hits, that's for the original "Change"-less British version. If you were reviewing the dickface American version, I support your 8 out of 10.

Add your thoughts?

what's THIS for...! - Malicious Damage/EG 1981.
Rating = 8

Totally different. The synths are gone (or at least so quiet, you can't hear them at ALL), the mix is horrendous, and the band has adopted a brand new "tribal" kind of feel. But this is a neat sound, see! It's nowhere near as clean and danceable as the first one, but Geordie has created a brand new high-pitched ringing stinging guitar tone that melds creepily with Paul Ferguson's cloppity boppity strong-handed style.

Supposedly all these songs were written in the studio and it shows; this is clearly a band effort, with every song focusing just as much on the rhythm section as the guitar and vocals. Check out "The Fall Of Because," for example. The guitar does almost nothing, but you will never be able to get the "boppa-dooga-doog-BOOMP-BOOMP-BOOMP" drum line out of your head. This carries on throughout the record, and it's actually pretty darn cool. Full-bodied tribal rhythms, weird bendy bass lines, screechy high-end guitar melodies, and more psychotic lyrics about "Tension," "Butchers," and "Madness." Ever heard the stupid critics' term "VAMPS"? That's what this album is full of. Lengthy songs that have more to do with repetition and hypnotic drumbeats than with verse-chorus constructions. As with every Killing Joke album, there are a couple of tracks that don't do a whole lot, but who cares? The style is attractive (though definitely ugly, of course), and the majority of the tunes are just fine.

Reader Comments (Brian O'Connell)

I have to finally put my stamp down, and it lands here. Apologies in advance for vehemence. And possibly pretentiousness.Hope I don't offend too many people with this. I'm motivated by good....

what's THIS for...! is from start to finish a work of art. The album is 15 to 20 years ahead of its time. Looking at bands like Shellac, Trans Am, and Godflesh (And many others)it is easy to see the obvious debt current music pays to this band, and specifically, this album. And NO-ONE acknowledges it. Almost every time you see Killing Joke mentioned, it's with reference to their influence on that horrible bunch of arrogant, incestuous pseudo-artists who have grouped around unimportant ex-members of the band. This is a pity. I reckon their influence is much more pervasive than this. It would be very hard to find concrete evidence for this, but I reckon that a vast amount of today's cooler bands/acts can trace influences back to bands who were directly indebted to the Killing Joke of this period (From Pssyche onwards).

The occasionally interesting but musically terminal movement called industrial has had precious little to offer to the evolution of music. And Punk has been over-rated in it's musical influence too (I'm not for a second under-estimating it's political/psychological/social influence). Killing Joke single-handedly pre-empted much of what was good/creative about industrial, and evolved much of what was good/creative about punk.They took influences from everywhere, came up with many strong creative ideas themselves, and made something completely new with them. Consequently, they should get credit for much of what has come from those times, and hence what is around now. I think they should have a place alongside Wire and Joy Division in the rank of influential bands.

I think the main things that stand in the way of Killing joke being accepted alongside the above bands is their monstrous inconsistency (I suppose their downfall was letting Youth go after Revelations?).I don't think that there is another band who has veered so extremely from rubbish to sublime.Jaz's rants, I reckon, didn't help either. This is all stuff which I suppose made it harder to listen to the good albums without hearing the bad that was to come.

Thanks for hearing me out, I hope I make some sense. (Chay Parsons)
What's This For..? is a great album - a bit depressing maybe, but brilliant. Listen to Follow The Leader and hear the birth of techno/rock/industrial music (as well as it being a fucking excellent song). It's not easy listening by any means, and all the better for it. What sort of place they must have been in mentally at the time of recording I can only guess, but I wouldn't like to go there. (Yue Ting Cheng)
No other band sounded like this before, especially considering it was released in 1981. This is Killing Joke's Finest album (Killing joke isn't far behind though). You can see where bands like the Cult drew their influences from "The fall of because". Elsewhere, "Butcher", "Exit" and "Unspeakable" are stomping viscious industrial strength assaults at their best, the latter a psychotic thudding of white noise and sinister bass lines. Bands like Skinny Puppy, Ministry et al wouldn't have existed without Killing Joke. But above all, their lyrics are extremely clever, situationist rants that question everything we are surrounded by. In that sense they were certainly not heavy metal to any degree- a guy i knew once said that the point of heavy metal was to act like a moron... Killing Joke are the complete opposite of that. 10/10
Finding out that the first two Killing Joke albums came out in '80 and '81 is kind of like finding out that some dude was magically curing polio in their garage for a few years before the man actually came up with a vaccine. Who the hell was doing this in 1980? That said, Killing Joke is responsible for discovering the polio cure in 1952. Fuck Jonas Salk.
First band I ever saw when I was 15 ! Maybe your first band you see is the one that you judge all other bands against but they had a profound impact on me. Whats THIS for... is an awsome album, totally out of the blue, a complete change of direction and one that they never pursued again. WTF got me into synthesisers, never realised how mean and dark they could sound and I still reference it, even now that I do dance music. Total classic, you can stick the beatles up ya arse mate, they were the boys and it was the most underated album ever.

Never read anything about the making of that album or that period but would love to know how they came up with it. 10/10.

Add your thoughts?

The Unperverted Pantomime? - Pilot 2003
Rating = 6

This is certainly an odd compilation. It features three songs from early 7-inches and EPs, three from a 1980 Capitol Radio sessions, a demo, an 'original version' (?), and eight songs from a very early live show -- four of which already appeared in studio versions earlier on the disc! I would propose that the point of the comp is to make available several rare and non-LP tracks, except that it also features versions of one what's THIS for...! and four Killing Joke songs! So I guess it's appropriate that I'm both thrilled that the CD exists and disappointed by how weak and redundant it is.

Of the non-LP tracks, the highlights are the eerie and manic "Pssyche" (which can also be found on several live albums), always awesome frishy-frashing anxiety punker "Are You Receiving?," Pink Floydian depression reggae "Animal," and 'scaaaaaaary' theatrical rocker "You're Being Followed." Less enjoyable are the always ugly fart-reggae "Nervous System" (on here TWICE!!), Sex Pistols rip "Malicious Boogie," and muddy live version of the usually not bad reggae "Nuclear Boy."

This CD was originally released in 1982 as an all-live cassette tape, and it was this version that was reissued in 2008 as The Original Unperverted Pantomime. Up those guys' noses though; I'm reviewing the 2003 compact disc version with the studio tracks.

I'd just like to say to Killing Joke, right here and now, thank you for all the great music -- and an extra-special thanks for dropping the reggae thing really early on before it could stink up any of your albums.

Well, today is Inauguration Day here in the United States and we're welcoming in our nation's first half-white President. I voted for him, as should've you unless you like doddering old warmongers. Still, there's a reactionary part of me that feels like lashing back at white people who keep talking about how excited they are. For example, one old (white) friend of mine posted on Facebook that she's "been waiting for this day since (she) was a little girl." Really!? Yes, it's neat that a half-white guy got elected President of these Racist States of AmeriKKKA, but I certainly don't remember ever staring at President Carter on the TV and thinking, "Man, I wish that guy was a Negro."

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Revelations - Malicious Damage/EG 1982.
Rating = 8

Picks up where what's THIS for....! left off. Same style, but this time, the riffs are cut into individual songs, instead of rambling on and on into vamp territory, or "Transylvania," if I may be entirely unwitty for one of what could be several minutes. The band sounds a little weary here, but that's undoubtedly a result of too many sleepless nights fighting off the paranoia. Nearly every song refers to the despair and facade of everyday life - society pretending that life is wonderful and happy when it's rotting on the inside. I call it great stuff. Great!

I've seen a few bad reviews of this record, but I totally disagree with any and all complaints. It's dark, dreary, and depressing, yet bouncy and slightly danceable - exactly what you might expect from a band called Killing Joke! A couple songs near the beginning of side two are kinda dull, but the rest of the record stands up to the test of time. Without even studying, ha! In my eyes, this is the coolest style Killing Joke ever had. That high-pitched quivery guitar is something else, dude. My only "ehh" is that it's kinda hard to tell what the bass player's doing. Just a bad mix, that's all. The songs are fine. Weird. It's not difficult to believe that Jaz and Geordie fled to Iceland right before this record was released. Freakers!

Reader Comments (canadien)
This is a great wall-of-sound type album, and i too have read bad reviews about this album which re-assures me to no end. Might not be my favorite album, but on it is my favorite KJ track. A track which opened up their set at Larry`s Hideaway in Toronto....YES, that was the night they recorded the HA live album. That track is called "The Hum" - What a Strummer ! If you listen to this song, you realize that Geordie must have been a CCR fan like myself - i think he ripped off the riff from Proud Mary - and then some ! Good show, Geordie ole man ! Make it Scream ! (Yue Ting Cheng)
Beware- this album could induce Psychological problems if listened to on drugs...!!! It is a sudden shift from "Whats THIS for....!" in that the vocal tweaks are pretty much absent as are the thudding industrial synths... but I guarantee that if you listen to it whilst reading the lyrics at the same time, you may never see the world in the same light again.... I certainly don't... but I suppose thats partly because I share a similar view of the world as a bleak misunderstood place where people act so falsely and the majority of people are stupid shits.... 9/10

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* The Peel Sessions 1979-1981 - EG 2008 *
Rating = 10

If you already own the first three albums, I suppose you could live without this. But why should you? Don't you want your own versions of "Nuclear Boy," "Malicious Boogie" and paranoid classic "Psycche"? Wouldn't you like to hear a studio version of "Wardance" without that monster-robot effect on the vocals? Or "The Fall Of Because" with an awesome delay/echo on the chorus vocal? Or an early version of "Complications" before Geordie added the second guitar chord and Jaz stopped singing each chorus's second "Complication" in an off-key northward direction? You want all these things and more. And some day you'll have them, thanks to your AIDS Gun.

The disc features four Peel Sessions and one Richard Skinner (!?!!??!?!!) session, encompassing 4 Killing Joke, 5 what's THIS for...!, 4 Revelations and 3 non-LP tracks. Here are the reasons that it gets my coveted 10 out of 10 grade:

1. By compiling such tremendous compositions as "Wardance," "Unspeakable" and "The Hum" onto a single disc, the album serves as a perfect entry point for anybody interested in hearing the band.

2. Because these are all alternate studio versions, the new fan can then still enjoy purchasing the first three albums - not just for the tracks not represented here, but for the sometimes radically different versions of the tracks that are here!

3. Being Peel Sessions, the production and mixing are uniformly excellent. Fuzzy keyboards, trebly guitars, tribal drums, dubby bass, shouty Jaz - it's all right in your ear!

4. "Malicious Boogie" and "Change" aren't the best songs in the world, and there's probably no reason to have included two versions of "Tension," but skip those and you've still got FOURTEEN astonishing Killing Joke creations of the first degree. Plus, the second "Tension" is a Skinner session and he totally mics the guitar and drums differently!

5. Like The Fall, Killing Joke has never released an album without a single 'duff track.' This one doesn't qualify either, but (a) it's long as hell, and (b) it features stellar tracks from not one but three studio albums, allowing new listeners to hear how dramatically the first line-up's sound progressed during its brief existence.

But enough about Killing Joke's Peel Sessions. Let's make up some jokes!

Why did the chicken cross the road?
I was eating at KFC and it tasted so shitty, I threw it out the window!

How many Polacks does it take to screw in a light bulb?
If it's a gigantic light bulb with a bed inside, and if by "screw," you mean "have sex," then two!

What's black and white and red all over?
A newspaper! (on which I spilled some ketchup!)

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Banana who?
Baaaa, Nana! I'm a sheep and you're my grandmother!

Okay, I'm off to see My Bloody Valentine 3D. DON'T RUIN THE ENDING FOR ME!!!!

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Ha! Live EP - Malicious Damage 1982
Rating = 8

I'm told that many of you people fail to google my name on a regular basis, so you may be missing out on what the experts are saying. It is to correct this wrong that I hereby present just a few of the many, many accolades that I have received from the Internet's professional message boards, blogs and portals:

"Who the fuck is Mark Prindle? Is this spam, or simply posted in the wrong forum?"

"The fact that he is so unerringly subjective means I don't much trust his judgement and I don't think I've ever bought an album based on his recommendation."

"For anyone who likes music and/or sex jokes, is a must."

"Mark Prindle likes to put lots of obnoxious jokes in his reviews, which often horrify me."

"Mark Prindle would like you to read his reviews of Eno albums, written in his thankfully inimitable style."

"Great review site by some prick named Mark Prindle"

"His sense of humour drives me up the fucking wall. I wouldn't like to listen to those self produced tapes of his own music - the reviews of them from his own site sound like your worst tossy frat boy nightmare."

"Mark Prindle je BOg!!!"

"This site is well layed out with a white background and appealing logo."

"He shows no regard for his audience or his subject."

"Mark Prindle will review anything. ANYTHING."

"Is this guy famous or something? Should i know who he is?"

"I haven't enjoyed his recent reviews all that much. Just seems like he's trying too hard."

"I mean, why is Mark Prindle so hot about all that hardcore crap?"

"It's not just 'this song is great, that song sucks, here's a poop joke'. He really does discuss the music. Occasionally."

So you see, the Internet is a wonderful place to look up my name and hear lots of wonderful compliments, like that my site is well layed out with a white background, and that I je BOg, and that my review site is great even though I'm a prick. With that in mind, let's talk Ha!

Before we get to that though, let me just mention that I've been happily enjoying the Tom Petty box set for the last two and a half hours but then "We Need Peace In L.A." came on for like two minutes and now my mood is ash grey with flakes of misery on top. How could such a wonderful pop songwriter write such an incomprehensibly reprehensible piece of social commentary? The same goes for Neil Young's "Let's Roll" but that's not playing right now.

Ha! is a short live EP from 1982 that features The 'Joke running through one song each from their first three albums, plus two non-LP classics and one rarity. The guitar tone is as trebly, chorused, wiggly and distorted as you'd expect from this period of the band, the tribal drumming pounds into your skull like a poorly-trained barber, and the singer can't wait to tell you how upset he is. I'll be the onest (1st) to admit that most of these songs only have one or two different parts, but when you get in that Killing Joke Zone, it's this very simplicity and repitatetiveness that makes you long for the songs to never end so you'll be able to wallow in their hypnotic punishing waves of bliss forever and ever and ever. Not literally.

Of particular interest here is "Take Take Take," which -- though not the greatest song in their catalog -- finds the band pursuing a mood not often heard on their albums: that of sluggish, stultifying doldrum.

In short, the sound quality is as good as on their studio albums of this period, the performances are anxious and habit-forming, and the dark evil rhythms will have you raping your 14-year-old stepdaughter as she lays dying of a head injury in no time, George McKee!

Reader Comments
That's Croatian for "Mark Prindle is God!". I've been known to utter this same sentence on many an occasion, especially when drunk.

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Fire Dances - EG 1983.
Rating = 9

Following a restful vacation in beautiful Iceville, Killing Joke returned to the studio with new bassist Paul Raven (not that you can hear what he's playing anyway, but that's hardly the issue, goddammit to hell) and recorded a record that umm pretty much sounds exactly the same as the one before it. The guitar is still quivery, high-pitched, and reverby, the vocals are still hoarse and semi-sung, and the drums are still doing tribal industrial sort of thingies. What makes this album a wee bit stronger than those before it (and most of those AFTER it, too!) is the strong melodic sense that they display throughout the record. Whether you're talking about the jolly bounce-around of "The Gathering" or the mindpunch of "Frenzy" and/or it's rejuvenating neighbor to the north, the psycho vibes just keep a-crunchin' through and through. Much more idiosyncratic than Killing Joke, much more succinct than what's THIS for...!, and much more energetic than Revelations, it's absolutely mindboggling that not a single one of these tunes would end up on the "best of" package. But what are ya gonna do? Pick it up and dance. Or sock your girlfriend in the cheek. No! Don't perform the latter activity!!!
Reader Comments (canadien)
Theres' only one great track on Fire Dances, and that is "Song and Dance" ! What a screamer - it frightens me to bits and then gives me an orgasm. But Fire Dances is one that i never listen to anymore - give me the HUM over and over and over forever and ever.
Fire Dances is fudking no bad.
Actually what I mean by that is;
It re-kindled my love for a band that are un-equalled in this.....?

Spazz Adder
This is their most underrated album, and most people outright disregard it because it's not *angry* enough or whatever. Uck-fay at-thay oise-nay. It has some of my favorite KJ songs that NO ONE talks about: "Feast of Blaze", "Lets All GO", "Fun and Games", "Harlequin" and "Dominator". "Feast of Blaze" just might be my favorite one they ever did!

Here, I'm gonna list my other favorite KJ songs I've heard:

"Complications", "Requieum", "The Gathering", "Rejuvenation", "Slipstream", "Age of Greed", "The Beautiful Dead", "Intravenous", "Solitude", "You'll Never Get to Me", and "Seeing Red".

So to Mr., I think your comment is a little screwey. "Song and Dance" wasn't all that great, except for the amazing ending...

And Hum is just a Nirvana knock-off while Nirvana is only a pale shadow in front of Killing Joke. Aha! So who's better now??! Hmm? Hmmmm indeed....

(I said hmmm...not Hum; I think they're worse. Hum, that is. That's all for *real* now!)
At first and for quite a while what's THIS for...! was my fovorite K.J. album, but little by little Fire Dances just kept crawling in to me to the point where I just listen to it more than any other K.J. album I own (I own all except Pandemonium), even more than what's THIS for...!

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Night Time - EG/Polydor 1985.
Rating = 7

Finally, a bit of a stylistic shift! The guitar is still high-pitched and the vocals are still hoarse and British, but now the bass, drums and keyboard accompaniment are thumping along in a corny '80s dance music manner. This wouldn't be a big deal if the songwriting was at its usual level, I suppose, but it's not. Half of the album is phenomenal, but the other half is kinda hokey. The title and lead track, for example, has a really stupid melody. Oh well. Did I mention how much cleaner this record is? I mean in every way.... The cover is a sleek airbrushed photo of the band, all the song titles are typed nicely instead of scrawled into the cover - even the record label is cleaner!!! (That "Malicious Damage" thing was a bit much, I suppose.) Jaz is singing a tad more on this one, too, which isn't a bad thing; his voice is actually kind of nice. But on rather lifeless tracks like "Tabazan" and "Multitudes," it's hardly a relevant touch. Don't yell at me - both songs have great choruses - but a great chorus does not a worthwhile song make.

Enough complaints. Regardless of the numbing down of the patented Joke attack, there are still some phenomenal driving tunes on here. "Europe" and "Kings And Queens" are powered by classic Jaz riffs, "Love Like Blood" is an honest-to-goodness EFFECTIVE synth pop tune, and "Eighties," well, we all know that story, right? Kurt Cobain stole the guitar line for "Come As You Are." Granted, the Killers' original number isn't anywhere near as sad and lovely as Nirvarna's, but a nicked riff is a nicked riff. Killing Joke sued and would've won had Cobain not committed suercide; apparently they only had to prove that Nirvana had heard of Killing Joke to prove their case, and that was an easy thing to prove as Mr. Cobain had sent the band a Christmas card a few years earlier. When I first heard about this case, I thought to myself, "Jeez, what a bunch of assholes," but now that I know more about the band, I can only wonder how the hell Kurt was planning to get away with ripping off one of the most famous riffs by one of the most psychically disturbed groups ever formed. "Eighties" is a cool song, by the way, and gets stuck in my head quite often. The album's main downfall is its corny '80s production. Geordie's guitar is still in the fore, but the keyboards and synth drums really do suck a lot of the kick out of this formerly aggressive combo. First underproduction, now overproduction. How damn hard can it be to make an album sound good????

Reader Comments
Kurt's riff for "Come as you are" also holds a STRONG resemblance to X's "White Girl". (Warren Bingham)
If you want to hear something really funny then grab a copy of The Damned's Strawberries album and listen to a song called Life Goes on.

If Killing Joke or Nirvana didn't nick the bassline for 80's from this song then I'll suck on my own earwax. Life goes on was written in 81-82 by the way.

Those Joke Blokes and Nirvany owe Captain Sensible shitloads of cash.
Killing Jokes "Eighties" DOES sound very very alike to Nirvana's "Come As You Are", but X's "White Girl" and The Damned's "Life Goes On" doesnt sound ANYTHING like Nirvana's "Come As You Are". Just cuz they might be in a similar ball park in the guitar lines dont mean they resemble each other. That would be like saying The Pixies' "Debaser" sounds exactly like "Smells Like Teen Spirit", which would be a complete Bullshit statement. (Yue Ting Cheng)
Not sure what to think of this album... Taking into consideration that I'm a Killing Joke purist (which means I think most of the stuff they released after Revelations was Drivel) to me it sounds like an 80's british goth band- the drums are kind of cheesy 80's goth, as well as the singing.... Gone are the hoarse punk like vocals of the early albums, instead replaced by a kind of miserable 80's London Islington Accent which is also shared by new romantics such as Pandau ballet and Duran Duran...!!!! There are definately some good songs on this LP, yet it is far too well produced and clean for my liking.... I can understand why some people might say it could be their best album, but I could imagine if you followed them from the start like a true fan, you'd agree with me...
having heard night time at the age of 14,what is this sound i am hearing ?darkness before dawn is still making my spine tingle after near on 18 years later,search out back records,what else did they do?got first album,second,third,its all good,go round second hand record dealers,turn to red 7inch,yeah man early joke,next week,same shop{andys ,cambridge}10 inch,next week 12 inch{i am in heaven}all mint till i started over playing them,{should have taped and stored away,o well,they still play nice}what an album night time is,but then again you could say that about all their stuff except the outside the gate album.its a pity cds took over records they are things to look after,cds are disposable,when it is fucked, buy a replacement,cant do that with records,ive loads of kj 12inch i dare not play now ,ave fun all u jokers.
No fricken' wonder I didn't find Nirvana to be all that and more. I loved Eighties when it came out, but didn't actually buy it so it receded into some unused brain cells, and then Nirvana's Smells... and Come.... came out and all I could think "this is fresh?". I remember thinking I'd heard all this before. Of course I was 23 at the time Nirvana hit big and had been around a few blocks by then. I was my first taste that everything that is old is new again once a new generation comes in. I'm still a little shaken that the 'next generation' came so soon. At the infirm age of 37 there's been 2 or 3 musical generations since then.

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No Way Out But Forward Go - Pilot 2001
Rating = 7

Hi, I'm Tony Nostril. Back in the day, which is to say back in the day, Trey and Jay were carryin' some carrion to the groverdusafjd

This live CD is all confusing because apparently there's one just like it called Love Like Blood Live so don't buy 'em both or they'll fuh kya!

It's a live rendition of six Night Time, 5 Killing Joke's Debut Album, 3 Revelations, 2 Brighter Than A Thousand Suns and 1 Non-LP songs by America's favorite British group Killing Joke, featuring illing bloke Jaz Coleman on vocals. I'll tell you one thing and that's for sure: the guitar is too quiet on this album. It's buried not only under the drums and the vocals, but can you believe that? The keyboards too! I mean, they LITERALLY buried Geordie's guitar underneath the drum set, vocal booth and keyboard set-up, so he had to spend half the set trying to dig it out of there with a shovel and blowtorch. Hear that smell? That's Paul Raven's ball hair!

No but I'm kidding as we all do today, in the economy.

In conclusion, if you can't wait to hear Jaz Coleman sing "Requi-eh-em GRARTGHHHH@H!!!" like he has a fifteen-pound mass of phlegm in his throat -- if you're hopping on one leg in anticipation of hearing Jaz Coleman sing "The Wait" so far out of tune that you're certain he's got a ball of yarn lodged in his ear -- if you're all like "Damn, would 'Wardance' rule if it had a two-note keyboard line drowning out both the guitar and that awesome bass line with the harmonics" -- if you think "Pssyche" could only be improved by using a bassist who can't actually play the bass line to "Pssyche" -- if all this and more, then only YOU can be the FirePants Man with the Gumbo to purchase Bubbles McGee's Ferrari Toilet! Yes, Bubbles McGee's Ferrari Toilet. Because believe you me, sometimes when you're driving around in your Ferrari, the last thing you want to worry about is voiding a stool all over the passenger seat during an important business meeting. So now, there's Bubbles McGee's Ferrari Toilet! Just put the steering wheel on AutoPilot and die in a fiery crash.

Look I'll be honest I'm a little tipsy. But you know what? So are YOU if you're actually considering buying a live album from the Night Time tour. Here's my impression of "Tabazan" and "Night Time": "Hey, we suck." Sure there are some great songs on here - "The Hum," "Darkness Before Dawn," "Reqiuem," "Empire Song," "Love Like Blood," "Kings And Queens" and "Eighties," for just one example. But (a) the Night Time songs sound just like the album, and (b) the old songs' guitar lines are buried! What's a Killing Joke album with subdued guitars? I'll tell you what it is -- an affront to all decent man and animalkind!

Look I'll be honest I'm prety durnk.

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Brighter Than A Thousand Suns - EG/Virgin 1986.
Rating = 7

Even synthier than that last one, but let me say something here and this is not something that you would normally expect me to say -


Also, these songs are just wonderful. Moody, soaring, and sad, all with unexpectedly beautiful vocals thank you very much to a Coleman no longer requiring heself to shout the cords out. It's a pity the last three songs aren't anywhere near as moving as the first five. In fart, it's those bastard last three songs that suck my numerical grade down to a 7. First five songs rule. Oh sure, they sound like Duran Duran, but open your soul, main, open your soul. Even though this would be a rotten first Joke purchase for any young rocker, if you're already a fan, you should pick it up for sure. Geordie's guitar is still there, but it's buried way behind the lilting tones of mid-80s synth drums and keys - oh man, that mid-80s synth sound - it'll never go out of style!!!!!???

See, I like Heartbeat City by The Cars. I don't mind corny production if the melodies stand out. Here, at least for the first 68% of the record, they do. The gorgeous swooping deathtones of "Adorations" get stuck in my head like every ten minutes (except for the stupid chorus, which I'll never understand), "Sanity" clinks along nicely, "Chessboards" is a sleazy little boogie tune with a guitar line that you can actually hear for a goddamned change, and then "Twilight Of The Mortal" and "Love Of The Masses" are as slickly sick as "Adorations," the latter with a thumpin' groove bass slimajim. And again the last three songs aren't that great. They're passable, I suppose, but not nearly as workable as the first five. I bought this album when I was a kid and it bored the thumbtack out of me, but now that I'm a big Killing Joke fan, I kinda dig it! It's still definitely their second or third worst release, but that says more about the quality of the band than the lack of quality of the album of which I here bespeak of. This record isn't a necessity, but boy it's got some haunting little tracks that sound even BETTER all keyboarded to hell and back!!!

Reader Comments
Thank you for this wonderful page; I laughed my ass off!

I always loved this album, just for what it was. I know Jaz utterly despises it now, but as you've pointed out, it's better than running for cover in Iceland.

My favourite memory of the band is during a photo shoot, where Raven mumbles something about making sure Jaz is standing along the ley lines before the photographer clicks the shutter.
I think Brighter Than A Thousand Suns is way better than Night Time. The thing is that it's pretty hard to accept the fact that this is actually K.J. performing these songs, specially if you started listening to their albums in a chronological order.

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BBC In Concert - Windsong 1993
Rating = 7

Okay, who's the joker who left this version of "Chessboards" on here? There's some BBC fatcat up there laughing his big wig off as we speak, believe you me, because by the mid-song point vocalist/keyboardist Jaz had somehow fallen several seconds behind the rest of the band, where he remained for the rest of the track. It sounds HORRENDOUS! "I open my eyes and tears run down," he heartfelt sings, several seconds after he should've already sung it. How could THE BAND have allowed this humiliating rendition to see release?! Did they just think it was funny? Oh, woe is me and all those with ears to hear.

The rest of the album sounds fine though, aside from "Wardance," which is rendered worthless by the complete absence of bass guitar in the mix.

This live recording sees "The Joke" (or "The Killing") perform four songs each from their two slickest keyboardiest albums (Shite Time and Tighter Than A Thousand Nuns), as well as three Killing Jokes, 1 WTF...? and single "Pssyche." At this point, Killing Joke was a professional band playing sorrowful melodic songs. The set list here is excellent (aside from the uncompelling "Tabazan"), but they pretty much play the songs just like on the records, so there's no pressing need to make it part of your collection - unless you're simply climbing a brick to hear Jaz say, "Overpopulation! Technology! The Arms Race! WARDANCE!" before a terrible version of "Wardance."

For the record, I love the first four bass notes of "Complications" and the harmonics-driven bass line of "Wardance." So if you're trying to think of something to get me for Arbor Day, there's your hint.


Okay, I've never actually drank Hint Water. But how could it NOT suck?? Come on, who's with me!?

(*everybody in the world raises their hand at once, flinging the Earth off its axis and headlong into the sun*)


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Outside The Gate - EG/Virgin 1988.
Rating = 3

Stupid album. Apparently it was supposed to be a Jaz solo record, but the record company insisted that it be released under the Killing Joke name. A lawsuit ensued, but the main point here is that this album, aside from one really good song, doesn't sound like Killing Joke at all. Or rather, it sounds kinda like they said, "Hey! Let's go back and make that angry music we used to make!," then quickly followed up the statement with, "....and let's not use any guitars!!!!" What this record sounds like is a piece of shit 80's synth band trying to create bitter political music with no other components than dumbass "scary" electronic noises and a singer who overdramatizes every single syllable that comes out of his mouth. The melodies are terrible, and the presentation is unforgivable (not to mention hilariously dated). "Obsession" is a great upbeat moody song that could have been on Brighter Than..., but nothing else on here even comes close to doing this fine band justice. The excruciatingly boring and endless title track may in fact be the worst song they've ever written.

So don't buy it, okay? Both Paul Walker and Paul Ferguson left the band during the sessions (leaving the drumming to session musician Jimmy Copley), and so should you.

Also, just so you don't think I'm deaf, there are actually guitars on this album, but they're not really doing anything. The synths are in charge.

Reader Comments (Sergio Eduardo)
I think this almost progressive album is a lot better than Brighter than.... And the melodies are great.

K.J.- 9,5
What's this for - 8
Revelations - 9
Fire dances - 9
Night Time - 7
Brighter than... - 5
Outside the gate - 8
Extremities... - 9
Pandemonium - 10
Democracy - 8

By the way, here in Brasil Pandemonium, as always, was a failure, comercially. (Jasper Sharp)
I think you're being a little harsh here. Sure it doesn't sound much like KJ, but it is a good album in its right, and a complete extreme to their earlier stuff. 'End of the World' and 'The Calling' are probably my two favourite tracks of all their output. It's completely over-orchestrated and over-produced true, but it really is the summation of all of Jaz Coleman's pre-occupations and predelictions, and for that reason it shouldn't be discounted. (Mark T.)
Superb album in my opinion. A different KJ sound but a really adventurous soundscape with synths very much in focus. Some GREAT tracks too - the guitar IS there it blends really well. Rather than relying on sheer volume for power the onus is on the instrumentation to deliver - which they do. One of all time favourite albums.
being a lover of the joke since about 1984,i respect views of all joke followers,all the realeases to me have been worth the wait,oh i forgot about outside the gate,well it is forgettable considering what i regard as a wierd,complex mishmatch of tunes that do not truely sit in the same league as,well everything else they have released before and since,what were jaz and geordie trying to do?o well it still has tiahuanaco,where did the power go?it did not go far,so why that album?
tres bon album envoutant un son un brin vieux jeu et commercial qui a pour but de transmettre une sensation de vecu du moins pour ceux qui l'ecoutaient a sa sortie c'est surement comme pour etienne daho un rebuttant pour une premiere ecoute de nos jour mais lŕ est la subtilité

et surtout killing joke ne fait que de tres bons albums

Jerry Flynn
Hi Mark

Having waited so long between the release of Hosannas and the forthcoming Feast of Fools album I recently went and gave a second chance to Brighter than a Thousand Suns and Outside the Gate and, being much older and (at the time) totally starved of any new KJ to listen to, was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed them!

In their defence, I would say that Unto the Ends of the Earth (first rendition) isn't bad at all - at least a nice edgy guitar riff forces its way out now and again, and if you try really hard you can end up quite liking the first offering of America.

I'd certainly much rather have that on in the car than anything by practically anyone else in the world, ever.

I've never had much truck with those who say any band has "sold out" either, the obvious retort to that being "where were you during the revolution then?". A punk guitarist friend of mine once said he had no objection to struggling artists trying to make a few quid for themselves and I agree wholeheartedly.

Personally I've loved KJ since, in 1980, I heard the first couple of bars of Requiem. Unfortunately, nothing and no one else sounds anything like them so I have a serious addiction to their music!

Good website, by the way...

Troy Faubert
It's best not to look at this as a Killing Joke album, but rather as a Jaz Coleman album. Either way, I think it's a solid abum that's enjoyable to listen to. Sure it's a bit sloppy and even a bit corny on tracks like America and Stay One Jump Ahead, but I'd rather listen to this record every day than the shit that's out these days in a world of music that's nearly gone dead.


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Wilful Days - Caroline 1992.
Rating = 8

This is a compilaton of outtakes, b-sides, extended dance versions and whatnot of songs from album A through Outside My Suckass. Good stuff! Lots of great tunes you might have never heard ("Sun Goes Down," "Me Or You," "Wilful Days," and I could go on!), along with some fairly worthless alternate versions of songs that were already great. I don't know. I'm in it for the hard-to-find tracks. I have no use for an 8-minute version of "Eighties" that dumps the guitar entirely after two and a half minutes. Just 'taint for me. But hoopla doopla dee, they's a good band! And depressing as shit! My girlfriend has, in fact, forbidden me from playing Killing Joke around her for an as-of-yet undetermined amount of time. They just make her feel negative.

Damn wussy girl.

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The Courtauld Talks - Caroline 1997.
Rating = 5

From what I understand, this was created while Killing Joke were trying to find a record label after Outside The Gate. It's an hour-plus speech given by Mr. Jaz "Freak" Coleman to a crowd of somebodies, with Geordie playing two spooky chords on the guitar over and over and over again while a "Jeff Scantlebury" beats some percussion drum deals for dramatic effect. The speech involves the power of magic in our lives, especially in regard to music. It's fairly interesting for a while, but also a bit hard to follow when Jaz starts talking about "The Old Ones" or whatever. If nothing else, it's cool to get an hour-long glimpse into this guy's weirdo mind to see what makes him do the things he does. It all has to do with magic! And, I guess, his paranoia regarding such phenomena. If you're into magic-type stuff, please buy this CD and tell me if it's any good. All I can tell you, as a non-magic-coneiouscsuiear, is that I certainly find it interesting for a while, but not for the full hour. Still, I can't give it less than a five, because, well... I don't really UNDERSTAND a good quarter of it, so I'd be awarding it a low grade unfairly. I'll leave it up to your personal preference. If you're a huge Killing Joke fan, you'd might as well pick it up because it, again, really IS a cool glimpse into Jaz's mind. Plus, it has those two groovy chords played over and over again for an hour. And can you beat that?

Well, of course you can; let's not kid ourselves. It's a fucking blabfest, for Pete's sake. What the fuck is he talking about? "Lost Souls"? Who fucking cares? Pass me that Shaved Orientails.

Reader Comments (Matt Easton)
I haven't heard the album but off the top of my head I think "The Old Ones" might be a reference to H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. I don't know much about it myself. There's lots of stuff about it on Wikipedia though because Wikipedia is written by D&D nerds who like that kind of shit.

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Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions - Noise International/RCA 1990.
Rating = 8

FINALLY!!!! I guess it took a bitter lawsuit to make the Jokesters angry enough to dump the forking synths and get back to the psychotic high-pitched poundrock that made them so damn great in the early to mid '80s. As I mentioned earlier, Jaz had some sort of mental collapse due to stress, poverty, and anger at his asshole record company, and reached the point where he was so messed up, he hired a hitman to kill somebody or something. See, I read an interview with him about six years ago and he talked about the whole episode, but now I can't remember the story.

Anyway, Jaz and Geordie sound angry as wolverines on this record, supported in their spite by returned bassist Paul Raven and legendary drummer Martin Atkins (from PIL and umm.... whatever). Great songs. Seriously. The piercing pounding screwo riffs of "Money Is Not Our God" and "Age Of Greed" start off the record on a tremendously exciting note, but there's lots else to love here too. "Intravenous" has the creepiest bendy note opening riff we've heard since Fire Dances, "Struggle" has a remarkably effective and unnatural speedy reverbed chorus bit that gets stuck in my head probably fifteen times a day, "Slipstream" somehow manages to sound upbeat and positive despite the obvious misery and hopelessness expressed within, and "Inside The Termite Mound" - ooh she's one mean little trudger! As usual, it's got a couple of weaker songs (the ugly as a plant "North Of The Border" in particular) but it's just so wonderful to hear Killing Joke playing noisy bitter guitar-driven rock and roll again that these minor miscalculations are easily forgivable. Let's all thank the lord for asshole record companies!

Right at the end of the album, all the guys laugh and hoot maniacally like they've just recorded the most violent record ever made. They haven't. But it sure is a step up from Outside The Gate!

Reader Comments (John Norton)
I would have to admit, I wasnt a big Killing Joke fan until 1991. It so happens that this was the same time i came upon the Extremities album. I was in a freinds car driving around seattle, when he put in a tape that he bought at a garage sale(for the hell of it). As soon as he put it in, I was kicked in the ass. It was as if they knew how I was feeling or something. I have never heard such aggression and mayhem wrapped in such a beautiful tapestry of agnst and emotional turmiol and (well i could go on forever). I am forever a Killing Joke fan, and they will always be a favorite of mine.Extremities is a anthem for all of the stray humans of the world who may feel a little out of place. Its intelligent and thought provoking, and most importantly it "ROCKS". I mean it really kicks you in the ass.

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Inside Extremities, Mixes, Rehearsals And Live - Candlelight USA 2007
Rating =7

I wrote the preceding review of Extremities, Dirt And Various Repressed Emotions around nine years ago, and my feelings remain the same today. It is a wonderful Killing Joke record that sounds just as dirty, anxious, angry, wiry and hooky today as it did the day it was released. And let's talk about that day, now that we're here together.

I first encountered the music of Killing Joke in 1989, when I was 16 years old. A friend (now ex-friend, see "Andy"'s reader comment near the end of my Miles Davis page) had purchased their debut and lent it to me with high praise. At the time, my musical tastes were even more limited than they are today, so I taped the few songs I liked ("The Wait," "Requiem," "Wardance" and "Complications") and told the rest to fuck off in a boat. Over time I began to miss the others, however, and wound up purchasing the CD for myself. Unfortunately, my follow-up purchase was Brighter Than A Thousand Suns which - though I grew to love it in my mid-'20s - is still a ball-less keyboard-drenched Fag album for Girls. Thus assuming that they were just a shitty band with one good album (this was before the Internet so I had little advice to go on), I forgot about them and bought more hardcore.

Then a year later, I had moved on from hardcore to noisy AmRep/Sub Pop "grunge" rock, and was recording WREK Georgia Tech's weekly "grunge" show when all of a sudden they played a new Killing Joke song that DRAGGED my HEAD through the DIRT! I couldn't BELIEVE this was the same band that had recorded that Fag album for Girls just a few years earlier! The song was "Intravenous" and mister I had to hear this album. So I convinced Matt Terrebonne to buy a copy so I could tape it off him.

And MAN! WHAT AN ALBUM! We've already discussed this previously, so let's move on to today's review.

Extremities, Dirt And Various Repressed Emotions has been out of print for a long, long time. I personally had to search for years to find an affordable CD copy to replace my tape dub, and that was a decade ago! Checking on Amazon, I see that they have three listings for it -- one for $27.00, one for $34.77, and one for a ludicridous $99.99 (did he not notice that the $27.00 copy hasn't sold!?). I have to assume that the band has been unable to secure the rights to re-release it themselves, but luckily somebody still had access to their rehearsals, demos and a very good live recording from that year's tour so Wham-De-Do! We've got this brand new double-CD to remember it by!

The metrics are as follows: Every song from Extremities is represented on here except for the slow, dreary "Solitude" and ugly as hell "North Of The Border." Disc one features mixes and rehearsals of four different Extremities songs, as well as a rare song excluded from the record. Disc two is a live set from June 1991 that features six Extremities songs, five from the debut, one each from Fire Dances and Night Time, and the non-LP "Pssyche."

The specifics are as follows:

In nearly all of the demo/rehearsal tracks, the drums are very loud and crisp, and the vocals are muffled and buried.

"Money Is Not Our God" appears in four different varieties: live, instrumental mix, "hideous remix" topped with tape-rewinding squeaks and echoey distorted talking, and early rehearsal with a much cleaner and more lightweight guitar tone.

"Struggle" is listed as appearing in four different rehearsal versions, but the first three are clearly the same exact take with blank space inserted almost at random so they could claim it as three different tracks. But these two (2) versions do provide a fascinating peek into Killing Joke's songwriting process -- as evidenced here, the song was originally written with no slow part! Unfortunately, Jaz's attempts to sing over Geordie's awesome diddly-diddly-diddle guitar line sound horrific. At some point in the session, he must have realized this and requested, "Say, do you think you could stop diddly-diddlying long enough for me to sing my lyrics without sounding like a complete asshole?" Plus, unexpectedly to a big speed-rock fan such as myself, the song is actually less powerful in its all-fast version. The speediness just starts to feel tired after a while with no slow parts to break it up.

"Slipstream" appears in two different demo forms. The first consists solely of vocals and echoey guitar, and sounds a billion times spookier and darker than the 'happy-sounding-in-spite-of-itself' album version. The second is a full-band demo, but they still haven't worked that odd 'happy' feel into the song yet.

"Intravenous" appears three different times - live and as two rehearsals. Unfortunately, the two rehearsals feature way too much echo/delay/repeat during the eerie bendy intro/break; though it does help the actual song chords sound more strangled and creepy, it makes the intro sound like an ineffectual mess of slop! Also, the two demos sound nearly identical, so I'm not sure why both were included.

The previously unreleased outtake, "The Fanatic," has a dark note run in the verse to LITERALLY DIE FOR, but the chorus just sounds like a simplified "Intravenous."

The live disc is 80 minutes long and seems to have really good sound when it starts off, with Jaz's hoarse vocals (and occasional keyboards), Martin's drums and Geordie's echoey trebly wavery watery guitar all sharing the spotlight on a wonderful selection of material. But then about halfway through, you realize, "Where the hell's the bass?" Part of the problem is that Killing Joke's material has always been more guitar-focused than bass-focused anyway, but the lack of bottom end in the mix is particularly disappointing here because it results in Geordie's truly awesome and idiosyncratic guitar tone eventually feeling simply trebly and wispy. I think the reason it doesn't start to feel this way until later in the CD is that the first half concentrates pretty heavily on Extremities material, where the bottom end is provided by keyboards and heavy downbeat drumming anyway. But when they start playing previously fuller, bassier material like "Wardance," "The Wait" and "Love Like Blood," the whole world starts crashing down in a headachey wave of nothin' goin' on'! "The Wait" sounds more like early Cows than Metallica, "Wardance" is two scraggly chords for 5 minutes, and "Love Like Blood" simply doesn't work outside of its slick, techno-goth album mix. Otherwise, great live album!

Jaz's Jello Biafra-like stage patter includes such dozers as "Everything today is too expensive! I can't afford it!" and "Today we went fishing.... The fish were gone! The fish were gone! Pollution." and "Are you saving your money? Do you have much money? If you don't, then it's too late - because there's no more money!" But you know the coolest thing? The thing that all Killing Joke fanatics should take note of and examine as a very important statement about Jaz Coleman and who he is as a person? At the end of the studio version of "Age Of Greed," he rails at his real-life financial destroyer, "You just treat me like a commodity! You don't know that I couldn't even afford to feed my family! I just wanna kill! I just wanna take a gun, put it to your head, and PULL THE TRIGGER!!!" It's an authentic and frightening glimpse into the mind of a wronged man at his wit's end (he was dead serious about it!). But in the live version, he changes "I just wanna kill" to "I just wanna die," and "put it to your head" to "put it to my head"! Did suicide now seem a better option than murder? Or self-pity more honorable than rage? Somebody do a research project on this.

If you haven't managed to get a copy of Extremities, this isn't a perfect replacement (you need the full, final versions of "Struggle" and "Slipstream," and should at least get a chance to hear "Solitude" and "North Of The Border"), but at very least, the six live tracks are pretty indicative of how those songs sound on the record (though the creepy intro/break of "Intravenous" is ruined by sloppy playing). And if you own and enjoy Extremities, don't fear that this isn't worth your dime because it ASS is. Even if some of the rehearsals are depressing and laughable, they still provide rare insight into the beginning stages of one of Killing Joke's many superlative albums.

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Bootleg Vinyl Archive Vol. 1 - Candlelight 2007
Rating = 5

This is a budget-priced triple-CD featuring three old Killing Joke bootlegs that used to make the rounds (Live In London, Live At Venue, Live At Odeon), as well as a previously unreleased recording of the band from Porchester Hall 1988. You all know I love Killing Joke more than a mother loves her stupid baby, but the tracklist repetition and rotten sound quality of these discs is difficult to ignore. It doesn't matter how good your songs are - if you play the same ones at every show and have a guy record them on a spool of tape in his mouth, I'm sorry but your box set is going to get a 5.

The set features 44 songs, but only 28 different songs. "Wardance" and "Change" are performed at all four shows, and Live At Odeon only features two songs that aren't on Live At London, resulting in each of these tracks appearing twice on Bootleg Vinyl Archive Vol. 1:

"The Fall Of Because"
"The Wait"
"Turn To Red"

8 of the 9 songs on their debut LP are included (no "SO36"), along with 5 what's THIS for...!, 4 singles, 3 Night Time, 2 each from Revelations and Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions, 1 Fire Dances and 3 rare tracks. I will now briefly review each bootleg, in case you find 2/3rds of one of the discs lying in the street some day and would like to know my thoughts on it.

Live In London - Apparently recorded at the Lyceum on July 26, 1981, this tape is highlighted by vocals that are far too loud in the mix and overdistort like unlistenable nuts whenever Jaz screams (ex. "The WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT!"). In fact, for the first few songs, you can't hear anything but the vocals and overpowering drums. Thankfully, by the third track the guitar has worked its way up in the mix and we can all enjoy what a shitty boring song "Change" is. Still, it's hard to complain about a set list that includes "Exit," "Unspeakable," "Primitive," "Psycche," "Turn To Red" and the GREATEST DRUMBEAT OF ALL TIME "The Fall Of Because." As such, Live In London earns a 6 out of lo.

Live At Venue - Reportedly created at the London Victoria on February 10, 1980, this is easily the best and most fascinating disc of the set. Not only had they not released an album yet, but by the time they did release one, it would only include FOUR of these eleven songs! So instead we get single "Psycch" and the first EP's "Nervous System," "Turn To Red" and "Are You Receiving?" along with three songs that appear on no Killing Joke album or single: "Malicious Boogie," "Nuclear Boy" and "What's The Matter?" Because you're all excited about this, I'll describe each of these rare songs. The best one, "Malicious Boogie," is a bouncy ball of fun Fall-esque energy driven by a happy octave-leaping bass line and inaudible guitar hiss. "Nuclear Boy" isn't quite as fun, but it features an intriguing hippity-skippity semi-reggae beat and guttural bass thudding, along with a bit of poppy keyboard. And "What's The Matter?" just outright sucks. In fact, let me rephrase that as an answer to the title question. "What's The Matter?" "You're A Terrible Song!" Part of the blame lies in the inexpressive female guest vocals, but the music doesn't do much either - just a couple of foreboding bass notes and some trebly noise. Still, what a neat old-timey bootleg! A 7 out of ten.

Live At Odeon - Supposedly jotted down in Bologna, Italy on October 23, 1981, this bootleg is the absolute PITS. The guitar is so trebly, distorted and poorly-toned that you can't make out a single thing Geordie is playing (not even the intro to "Requiem"!!!), Jaz keeps laughing like an 'evil' goofball, and at some points the audio track even fades in and out. This miserable set-up actually works for "We Have Joy," because it accentuates the aggressive bass thumping. But the only other thing on here worth not scratching up with a knitting needle is the GREATEST DRUMBEAT OF ALL TIME "The Fall Of Because." Live At Odeon should consider itself lucky to earn a 3 out of IO.

Porchester Hall 1988 - Allegedly taped for posterior at London Bayswater's Porchester Hall on Christmas Eve Eve Eve 1988, this disc is pretty well-balanced volume-wise (after the first song, at any rate), but Jaz's startlingly flat, off-key vocals completely destroy "The Beautiful Dead" and "Eighties." One thing I must point out in defense of Jaz's occasional poor vocals during later-period shows: he spends most of the shows screaming, so you have to figure his throat is pretty much shredded by the time he gets around to songs like "Love Like Blood" where he's actually expected to sing. Regardless, either there was a recording problem with this show or I have a defective disc, because my copy is plagued with these odd 'vip vip vip' noises that sound like a cymbal crash trying to break through a bassy foreground at odd intervals. If you own the disc, could you let me know if you hear this problem as well? Other "issues" include the fourth unnecessary version of tired funk bomb "Change," the least frenzied take on "Frenzy" imaginable (did someone tell the new drummer the song was called "Nap"?), and the unfinished states of two Extremities tracks -- which find the fast part of "The Beautiful Dead" going slow, and the guitar line of "Extremities" tediously running all the way down the neck every single line instead of repeating the top four notes on the 1st and 3rds. But they'd be fixed by album-recording time!!!! Porchester Hall gets a 6 out of X.

If you don't mind hearing the same songs over and over and over, you would probably give Bootleg Vinyl Archive Vol. 1 a low 6. It was a very nice idea, gathering up all of these bootlegs that were previously available only to rich collectors with their fancy $100 bills, and making them available at super-affordable K-Mart prices. Heck, the rare tracks on Live At Venue alone are probably worth what they're asking for the whole set. But you know bootlegs - in general, they have substandard sound. Plus they steal money from musicians so they go bankrupt and die. Thus, I give it a 5.

If it makes any of The Eagles die, I'll give it a 6.























Billy Joel? A PERFECT TEN!!!!!

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Laugh? I Nearly Bought One! - Virgin EG 1992
Rating = 8

A greatest hits compilation! With seventeen songs! Wow! Some non-album tracks included, too, like dub reggae "Turn To Red," "Pssyche," synth-era b-side "Sun Goes Down," and a remix of "Wintergardens." But NOTHING from Fire Dances? Am I the only one that loves that record? Dang! NOTHING???? FOUR from what's THIS for...! and NOTHING from Fire Dances? Nothing nothing nothing? Nothing at all? Fuck you the world! Plus, they didn't pick the best songs off the other albums either (except, of course, "Eighties," "Requiem," and "Age Of Greed"). But no "The Wait"? No "The Fall Of Because"? No THING from Fire Dances???? Again, fuck you the world!

I apologize the world.

Reader Comments (Paul Stewardson)
This is the only Killing Joke album you really need. It is worth buying for the incredibly fierce live version of "Pssyche", a song which regularly inspires normal, rational people to jump up and down like madmen.
After the release of the best of, Laugh? I nearly bought one! album I read that youth was the main instigator of the reformation. Jaz has been in New Zealand writing classical symphonies and allegedly their national anthem and came back because "we all love youth" They split up onstage in england after geordie messed up a riff, Jaz screamed at him and (still onstage) Geordie walked up and stubbed out his cigarette on Jaz' chest. Jaz decribed the others as talentless slags living off his talent and they descibed Jaz as "a cunt". Youth is now owner and protagonist of Dragonfly records, maybe the best trance label of all and certainly one of the most prolific(man with no name, hallucinogen etc). and everyone else is a member of pigface, ministry, revco, murder inc. etc. Jaz told youth he'd rejoin the band as long as they did none of Youth's 'techno bollocks'.

Thats all I remember. P.S. I also read that killing joke were (and still are) banned from a lot of U.K. venues for lighting really big fires during their shows. (John Diller)
I still would like the original version of 'Pssyche' to be re-released. (Chay Parsons)
Almost a perfect Killing Joke album - except where the fuck is 'Change'????? and a few dodgy choices i.e. 'Chop Chop' and 'Darkness Before Dawn' (why? WHY? why not stick Kings and Queens on instead of that). Otherwise a great introduction to the band and a must buy.
I could never see the appeal in "Change," so its absence on this record isn't a big deal to me. But where the fuck is "The Wait"? I understand that greatest hits albums often leave off certain fan favorites because there's not enough room on the disc, but this is like releasing an AC/DC greatest hits without "Back in Black" or "Highway to Hell." Great fucking introduction to Killing Joke for newbies, though. I usually recommend they grab this record and the 1980 self-titled album. The self-titled is a best-of in itself, I think most of us can agree. Except you, Mr. Pringle's Potato Chips. A 9 for Hosannas from the Basement of Hell and only 8 for Killing Joke 1980?

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Pandemonium - Big Life/Zoo 1994.
Rating = 8

But, once again, they broke up after Extremities. Then somehow "Geordie" got "Youth" re-interested in the band (for the first time in over ten years), and them two grabbed Jaz and a drummer named Tom Larkin and put together an album that, from what I understand, sold more copies than any other KJ album had before. And a damn fine record it is. Definitely much closer to the original Killing Joke sound than any other album they've recorded, its production is smooth and clear, there are lots of full-bodied guitars (instead of the signature Geordie high-pitched tremble we've grown to kiss), and plenty of beautiful yet throaty vocals pit doomsday lyricism against upbeat melodicism.

It's easy to see why this might have sold so much. The music is extremely accessible without wimping out like that mid-period synth stuff. Apparently the repetitive, triumphant title track was a hit single, as was the Ministry soundalike "Millennium" (although, to put the cart before the egg, early Killing Joke was a big influence on Ministry, so I guess it was fair for the Jokesters to steal back some of their own chunkachunka industrial metal thunder to make a little cash). Decent song - great chorus! Even more Ministry-like (but again, when you get right down to it, this stuff sounds like the first Killing Joke record, which came out about six years before Al Jourgenson discovered the joys of noise) are the trudging "Exorcism" and technodanceable "White Out," both of which mix mid-'90s club sounds with heavy metal guitar, much like - well, a band I've already mentioned about sixty times already in this review.

I'm not sure why they chose to update their original style, untouched since the debut, all of a sudden in 1994, but I'm not going to complain about it. It's a lovely sound! Other great songs include the "Kashmir"-esque "Labyrinth" (which works not because of its Eastern-tinged melody, but because the burying of said melody behind a crunchy guitar stutter creates a dizzying swoony feeling in the gut of the listener as he and/or she tries to figure out whether the melody is coming from a synth, a violin, or whether it was just planted in his and/or my head during the ditzy opening bit), the lovely and talented "Jana" (as heavenly as any song they've written), and the disorienting "Pleasures Of The Flesh" (which combines a meaningless ZZ Top riff with an unexpected bass-and-synth melody to great effect). Not every song is successful in every respect ("Communion" is too darned pokey, and the final track, the dancey "Mathematics Of Chaos," just isn't strong enough to bring up the rear, partly because of terribly weak production compared to the rest of the record and partly because of an uneventful melody), but most of it works like a frosted lucky charm. It's tragically Bob Costas!

Reader Comments (John A. Frye)
My first purchased Killing Joke album back in 1994. The computer at the record store listed Peter Hook as the bassist for some reason, so I bought it. Millenium has a fantastic riff- but I think it goes on for something like eight minutes...I think it is to be considered the "epic" track of the album I guess. Jaz's voice gets some treatment throughout parts of the album that accentuate the scratchiness when he gets into it- it sounds strangely like someone screwing on the lid of an empty jar of Miracle Whip with a bunch of dirt trapped in the threads. I have yet to complete my collection of Killing Joke, but this is my favorite at the moment. I'm working from either end, so I don't have the middle chunk. Sounds like I'll have to pick up Firedances. Anyone heard Jaz referenced as "a punk Eugene Levy"? Funny thought. So when do we see a followup to Democracy?

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Bootleg Vinyl Archive Vol. 2 - Candlelight 2007
Rating = 5

This is a budget-priced triple-CD featuring three old Snorting Coke bootlegs that used to make the rounds (The Bums Rush - Demos, The Act Is Done, Live At Joker Place), as well as a previously unreleased recording of the band recorded in Astoria on September 20, 1994. You all know I love Snorting Coke more than God loves attention, but the tracklist redundancy and poor sound quality of these discs is difficult to ignore. It doesn't matter how well-written your material is - if you play the same set at every show and have a guy record them on a piece of Scotch Tape stapled to his dick, I apologize but your box set is going to get a 5.

The set features 45 songs, but only 24 different songs. "The Wait" appears on all four bootlegs, and The Act Is Done has nearly the exact same set list as Live At Joker Place, resulting in each of these tracks appearing thrice on Bootleg Vinyl Archive Vol. 2:


...and each of these tracks appearing twice on Bootleg Vinyl Archive Vol. 2:

"Darkness Before Dawn"
"Follow The Leader"
"Love Like Blood"
"Night Time"
"Sun Goes Down"

7 of the 9 songs on their debut LP are included (no "Primitive" or "SO36"), along with 6 Night Times, 5 Pandemoniums, 3 what's THIS for...!s and 3 singles. I will now briefly discuss each bootleg, in case you you'd rather spend $40 on one of them than $15 for the whole set, like a good salesman can make you do.

The Bums Rush (Demos) - Most of these 1980 demos sound pretty similar to the versions that wound up on the debut album, but there are some interesting differences here and there that should please fans as large as myself. Most excitingly, here's your chance to hear what "Follow The Leaders" would have sounded like had it been on Killing Joke! Clean, tight, discoey and well-produced, it would've been a perfect fit in this incarnation; lordy knows why it didn't make the cut. Elsewhere, the ever-weak "Changes" is showcased in two versions - one featuring dub-style echo vocals and the other built around a corny synthesizer at the expense of any guitar presence at all; "Complications" still features the ugly second-line-in-the-chorus vocal ascension that was thankfully dropped by LP time (more amusingly, one version starts slow as dirt until the drummer realizes his error and speeds up, rendering the song's conclusion about twice as speedy as its intro!); and "The Wait" is highlighted by (a) an opening synth note that goes down to the second note rather than up, and (b) a godawful, overloud chorus that sounds like the song is called "The Watt." This stench-flavored version of "Are You Receiving?" can suck it though. I give this bootleg a 6 out of 10.

The Act Is Done - Reportedly taped in Germany in early 1985, this one suffers from murky, bassy, muddy (but LOUD!) sound and poor vocals. Jaz often sounds really flat, as if he can't hear himself in the monitors and is just sort of guessing how much to constrict his throat for each note. I'm sure lots of Killing Joke fans are interested in hearing non-slicked-up versions of the Night Time material, but not THIS non-slicked-up! Amazingly, "Love Like Blood" survives intact. And it's nice to hear that even during their most 'New Romantic' synth-heavy album era, they were still blasting out "The Wait," "Tension" and "Pssyche" at their shows. (By the way, the only full-band album completely unrepresented on the two Bootleg Vinyl Archive collections is Brighter Than A Thousand Suns. Did they tour for that album? If so, what was the set list like?) In short, none of The Act Is Done is unlistenable; it's just disappointingly captured. I'd give it a 6.

Live At Joker Place - Seemingly recorded in France, Leon, Palis D'hiver on March 13, 1985, Live At Joker Place features the exact same set list as The Act Is Done, except they replaced "Pssyche" with "Follow The Leaders." However, the sound is MUCH better this time, with every single instrument audible and in tune -- until Jaz sings and drowns out the entire band. Granted, this is the same exact mixing style used for people like Alanis Morrisette in their studio material; it's just I personally quite enjoy the sound of Geordie's guitar and miss it when it's not around. In fact, miss it dearly when it's not around. Also, Jaz sings "The Wait" so far off-key, he may actually be in a different building than the band.

With soundproof walls.

And his ears and throat completely filled with wet cement.

Still, fans of bad stage patter will have a gasser listening to him never shut the fuck up during the supposed-instrumental "Bloodsport": "We're all gonna be animals! ANIMALS! This is called 'Bloodsport'! It's DISCO! Yeah! The day of the hunter! The killer on TV! And death is in my mind! GET OUT! Hunting, fishing! Olympic games! A summer, a war game! GET OUT! Okay? New dances! New rhythms! Pleasure in killing and watching killing is all the same to me! (etc)" SHUT UP!!! I give it a 7.

Live At Astoria 1994 - Suspiciously accused of being taped on April 20, 1994, this bootleg is my favorite performance on either Bootleg set. The guitar occasionally gets buried under the drums, but the set list is terrific - a mix of new Pandemonium tracks and old flav-o-rites (including THE GREATEST DRUMBEAT EVER "The Fall Of Because"), all sung/shouted well by Jaz and played with a slightly slower, sludgier grind than on previous tours. Jaz brings us some more brilliant stage patter too, including this insightful observation: "We hate the Intellect! We hate the Intellect - little round gold-rimmed glasses. The Intellect looks at his body, and his body wants to shit, and he hates the fact his body wants to shit, but still it shits!" I give it an 8. I was going to give it a 2 but then he said the thing about the Intellect taking a dump and that made me raise it to an 8.

If you don't mind sitting through the same songs 500 times in a row, you'd probably give Bootleg Vinyl Archive Vol. 2 a low 7. It was a very thoughtful concept - compiling all of these bootlegs that were previously accessible only to oil barons who light their cigars with billions of dollars worth of jewelry, and making them available to the earth's stinking human refuse at trailer park prices. Heck, the Bums Rush version of "Follow The Leaders" alone is probably worth the tiny penance they're requesting for the entire volume. But you know bootlegs - generally speaking, they suffer from substandard audio. Plus they literally take food out of artists' mouths, before it can be swallowed and provide sustenance. Thus, I give it a 5.

Last night while being interviewed on a Rutgers-area radio station, I made a statement so touching and profound that it created instant global harmony and peace for all future generations. Please, let me share it with you at this time.

Okay, so this guy Instant-Messengers the DJ while we're on the air, just to tell us that he's enjoying the show. He then adds, for identification purposes, that he's my "black friend". After speculating that he was probably "Soul At Zero," my African-American MySpace friend who likes Neurosis, I made this statement over the air for all to hear and learn from:

"Good old black people...and how they're your friends."

See, this is a perfect example of the difference between Don Imus's Hate Generation and my Positive Youth Generation: he uses hateful street lingo to tear down an entire segment of the population, and I patronizingly say something nice about them so they won't beat me up.

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Democracy - Zoo 1996.
Rating = 8

Not a hit, but I really like it! The schtick here is that Geordie is backing up a lot of the electric guitar rock arrangements with a sparkly clean acoustic-sounding guitar. It's keen! Not as hip and electronic-sounding as the last one, this album relies much more on the power of repetition and length, especially in the upbeat and unforgettable eight minutes of "Aeon." What's to say? Jaz is still hoarse, most of the melodies are great, and the mix sounds terrific. No more of that incomprehensible Fire Dances mess for these fellas! Finally we have ourselves some Killing Joke that rocks, but is aurally pleasing as well! Yay!

Songwise, "Democracy" and "Medicine Wheel" are among my favorite KJ songs ever, "Another Bloody Election" is surprisingly infectious considering how generic the rockyrolly riff is, "Pilgrimage" choogles folkingly, "Intellect" has the groovin' dance vibe the kids dig (but bitter!), "Lanterns" sounds surprisingly like The Pogues (for better or for worse - and ooh! How about those Lockhorns?), and the other songs - they're okay too. "Absent Friends" is kind of useless musically speaking and "Prozac People" doesn't get good 'til the chorus, but in short, let me stress that this band has been through a heck of a lot of turmoil during their 16+ years on this planet, and the fact that they have resisted becoming a worthless nostalgia act is due credit, not to mention the fact that they appear to be keeping the quality level high with each new album, even while trying out quirky new styles and sounds. Just don't buy Outside The Gate. You're The Meatmen and it sucks!!!!

Oh, Geoff Dugmore played drums on this album. As if you give a SHIT.

Reader Comments (John T. Maitland)
I love this album. "Prozac People" is a great chorus line, and I think that the first five songs run together beautifully. Finally I agree with you that the title track is one of Killing Joke's finest moment. Certainly didn't hurt them to have Youth back. (Aaron W. Finch)
Love your page, Prindle. I'm tickled to see I'm not the only Killing Joke fan in the country. I know I'm not, but it sure seems that way. Your reviews are pretty much right on the mark, even though I would have upped Pandemonium a notch or two. As for Democracy, I know this is harsh to say but I play that one as often as I play Outside the Gate-in other words, never. The absolute worst vocals ever from Jaz, a complete lack of killer riffs from Geordie, and the absence of the compelling industrial groove of the previous record. Such a disappointment because the previous record was so great and actually seemed to garner Killing Joke some new fans. As an example, a few of my musically- conservative heavy metal friends were enamored of the album and purchased it. Surprising.

From this perspective it seems that Killing Joke were one of the more influential bands of the Eighties, considering how many so-called "alternative" acts have made significant $$$ in the Nineties from aping their early style, basically the first four albums.

Glad to see you got ahold of The Courtald Talks. I wasn't sure if it was worth $13.00, but I picked it up anyway a year ago because I had never been able to find it before and it's definitely a curiosity. (canadien)
Amazing how varied our tastes are - especially with obsessed KJ fanatics. My favorite track on Democracy is Absent Friends while you basically poo-poo it. That track possesses me immensly, but Democracy was a saviour album for me since it had been so long since i had heard anything from the boys....If it wasn't due to the fact that albums 1 and 2 were listened to by myself ad-nauseum, i would have to pick Democracy as their best ever...

oh, and Outside the Gate sucks big time...i never heard it once in its entirety - what carpet was Jaz smoking in those days - yikes !

a friend of mine, who is convinced that Killing Joke isn't even worth mentionning, thought that the beginning of the track "Democracy" sounded a bit like a Led Zep tune,(he didn't know i was playing the Joke)...and i think i agree that it does have a bar or two that imitates Page's strumming but damned if i know which track or album it is...who cares. But as for the 1st KJ album, not a friggin chance ! (David Gereg)
this is one of their stronger albums. I was relieved to hear it after pandemonium(boring). I think their best album is Revelations. the Extremities album is on my 'table more than any other K.J. LP. by the way, does any body know where I can get a copy of democracy on LP?.
As for the Courtauld Talks and Magic meets music usic meets Magic and all that stuff... if you really dont understand an iota of what the hell all this is about got to Yahoo and search for Jaz Coleman Killing joke and find somwhere that returns you to the main page ....then search for a while..... the answer to Jaz Colemans Ramblings??? are there and still maybee hard to swallow but all I can say is that Jaz aint the onlyone coming across the MusicMagic Vibe apparently its been existent for centuries.... I personally havent listend to The Talks and would like a copy if I could ever find one... but I must say I just read your review and have like killing joke for ages but never realised me and Jaz were quite alike....

I've been meaning to write to you Mr. Prindle to profess my love of Killing Joke, but I have been rather busy with high school lately.

That wasn't a typo.

I know exactly what you are thinking. How can someone so young listen to Killing Joke? Well, have a look at my generation's music scene. It is so depressing. Personally for me, 1996 was the last acceptable year of music. After that it was rap-metal. I had to seek refuge from this noise pollution, so I used the wonders of the internet. Using this godly device, I discovered my now favorite band, Prong. While people were "rocking out" to Limp Bizkit, I was out devouring all their albums. The music scene hadn't gotten any better, so I started discovering more artists. Killing Joke, Gang of Four, Helmet, and Debbie Gibson. Good artists. I really feel sorry for my peers. They may never hear good music in their lifetime. For example, Linkin Park. They claim Korn as their major influence. We all know how much they rule. Just imagine the monstrosity when a band claims Linkin Park as an influence. Mr. Prindle, will the chain of suckness ever be broken?

Now I know the above paragraph was really off subject, but I just had to vent. Now let's talk about the great Killing Joke. Those first 3 albums were exquisite weren't they? Don't really care for anything after Revelations, too much pansy synth for my tastes. Regardless, I was reading a website with KJ lyrics, and came across "Obsession", your favorite track off of Outside the Gate. These lyrics are pretty damn prolific in this post September 11th world:

London, New York, Paris, Tokyo
All is one with the multi-nationals
Total monopolies I can sink or swim
Adrenalin is rushing through every action

Whole nations crave for release from the suspense
And I explode in you, my beautiful obsession

I've been dreaming all your nightmares
Holocausts, invented fantasies
We build the tower, tower falls down
All my dreams come true

Sweet Jesus & Mohammed
Disputes between the boys

I really apologize for this long email. To summarize, I'd like to say not every teenager you see these days listens to crappy music. Unless you think Prong is crappy, well then mister you are wrong. There is hope for us, isn't there?
Glad to see so many kj fans still exist from the starvation of any new sounds.I am afraid to say that the worst album kj have written is democracy.I have tried in vain to like this album but i simply cannot.The first album in my view is still the best and changed my idealogy of music

I have recently purchased no way out but forward go.Good lay out on the cd rom but the"live at lorely"seems rather flat for a kj gig.Not the way i remeber them
I used to follow them quite a bit.

I'm Scots and they played Glasgow regularly.

They were a complete mind shift for young punks and really set us thinking.

I think if I'd never heard Killing Joke(that's an upside down and back to front J[by-the-way])

I would not be head of Greenpeace, Europe today.

Add your thoughts?

Wardance: The Remixes - Dragonfly 1998
Rating = 1

This album takes an interesting idea and turns it into a gigantic infuriating rip-off. Not only does it NOT include a remix of "Wardance" (or in fact anything from their first four albums); its idea of a "remix" is to simply REPLACE THE ENTIRE SONG WITH BORING SHITTY GENERIC TECHNO. Supposedly Youth is behind this, and if there's any justice in the world, somebody will step behind Youth and kick him straight up the ass for releasing this worthless abomination under the 'Killing Joke' name.

These are supposedly remixes of one Night Time, four Pandemonium and three Democracy tunes, as well as something called "Four Stations Of The Sun," which is the closest thing to honesty you're going to find in the track listing, in that it doesn't even pretend to be a Killing Joke song!

Here, let me save you the effort of having to sit through this nauseating waste of time:

1. "Love Like Blood" - At the beginning you'll hear the original version's 3-note guitar arpeggio, and later you'll recognize three high keyboard chords and a sample of Jaz saying "Love like." The rest of the song is one fuzzy synth note and a beat.

2. "Savage Freedom" - Features a sample of Jaz singing the title line, and for about 1 second four minutes in, the guitar line shows up. The rest of the song is one synth note and a techno beat.

3. "Democracy" - A corny Nine Inch Nails industrial-metal track featuring not a single element of the Killing Joke song "Democracy."

4. "Four Stations Of The Sun" - Cheesy 'rave' music.

5. "Pandemonium" - A sample of Jaz singing "I can see tomorrow." Near the end of the song, the guitar line suddenly shows up. The rest of the song is one synthesizer note and a beat.

6. "Jana" - Features a creepy descending fuzz noise like you might hear in a haunted house movie. Oh, And Jaz singing "Jana." The rest is some guy ramming a Casio in and out of his ass.

7. "Black Moon" - Eight and a half minutes of random tedious house music followed by two minutes of techno synths playing the actual riff of "Black Moon"!!!!!!

8. "Intellect" - A techno song with no relation to the Killing Joke song entitled "Intellect."

9. "White Out" - I've got some crazy news to tell you. You ready for this? "WHITE OUT" WAS ALREADY A TECHNO SONG.. I know!!! Amazing, isn't it??? That Youth could take a pre-existing techno song and turn it into a SHITTY techno song?? With talent like that and a name like "Youth," he should join Sonic "Youth"!

Sitting through this 68-minute garbage pail a full twice for review purposes was one of the most excruciating experiences of my life. Granted, I've had a pretty comfy life, being literally born with a silver spoon in my mouth (thanks to my mother's vaginal cocaine habit) but even so, there is a limit to the torture that one person can take in this life, and Wardance: The Remixes Of Songs Other Than "Wardance" makes waterboarding seem like a guy holding your head underwater until you think you're going to drown, then doing it over and over and over again. Which probably isn't the best metaphor I could have used, but hindsight 20/20.

Apparently there are two other Killing Joke remix CDs on the market -- Alchemy: The Remixes and Rmxed -- but thus far I've managed to avoid accidentally illegally downloading them from the Internet. May I wish the same on you and your beloved family.

Speaking of which, this was pretty strange. Last night I had another high school dream, and at one point I realized that my locker number was 1492. "That's easy to remember," I observed in the dream. "1492 - Columbus sailed the ocean blue!" Then today I went to the post office to mail off some ebay packages. My total cost? $14.92. I told the postal lady about my dream, and she recommended that I buy a lottery ticket. So I recommended that she go fuck herself and the next thing you know the whole place is burnt to the ground and I've murdered six cops. Thanks for nothing, Christopher "Suck Isabella's Dick" Columbus!!!

Reader Comments
You said:

"Apparently there are two other Killing Joke remix CDs on the market -- Alchemy: The Remixes and Rmxed -- but thus far I've managed to avoid accidentally illegally downloading them from the Internet. May I wish the same on you and your beloved family."

I say:

I like techno, trance, AND industrial and I hate the awful Killing Joke trance remixes. So stay away from Alchemy, but you should download and check out 'RMXED'. It's actually a compilation of actual remixes of and from the band, from singles and compilations and such. Some neat stuff on there, even if it does stick pretty close to the 'Night Time" - "Outside the Bowel Movement' era. Pretty good extended mix of "Ecstasy" for example, a track that was on the Adorations single. Also the Instrumental Mix of Adorations that takes out almost all of the keyboards and amps up the ridiculously awesome main guitar riff. And this one DOES have a remix of "Wardance"! And it's not terrible or anything...the mark of a quality download.

There, now you owe me $20.

Add your thoughts?

Killing Joke - Zuma 2003.
Rating = 8

I took my dog Henry swimming in Central Park today, and on returning (1977-1979) I for some reason began thinking about the nature of racist humor. Specifically, I began thinking about the silly race-oriented humor I've been known to put here on the ol' web site. Because I'm not one to censor myself, I tend to gravitate towards jokes that strike me as so asinine and over-the-top, I assume they can't possibly be taken seriously. But what if they are? How am I to know whether I come across as a sexist, racist homophobe to people who only know me by my writing? I hadn't reached a conclusion to my self-query when Henry suddenly made a break towards a girl dog he must have taken a fancy for. It was a cute little Shepherd mix of some sort. Henry is also a Shepherd mix of some sort, so the physical resemblance was delightfully noticeable. I asked the owner, a man with a tattoo on his arm, what his dog was a mix of, and he replied, "Australian Dingo and, obviously, German Shepherd." I responded, "Yeah, Henry's part German Shepherd and part Greyhound, we think. We're not actually sure what else is in him." The Tattoo guy (not the one who shot himself) then turned to me and spake thus: "Yeah, those German Shepherds sure get around. Kinda like Puerto Ricans! Ha ha ha!" He then rubbed Henry's snout and said to him in a cutesy voice, "You're like a little Puerto Rican, aren't you? Heh heh heh." Obviously, I knew right then and there I was going to mention him in my next review; you don't meet somebody that open with their stereotyping every day. But what then does it all mean? And how seriously should it be taken? Did this guy actually DISLIKE Puerto Ricans? Or was he just making a sex joke based on some stereotype I've never heard? I mean, a guy who says something about black people eating watermelon doesn't necessarily HATE black people -- he may just be too ignorant to realize that that particular stereotype has its roots in decades (if not centuries) of racist hatred and violence. I chose not to make any assumptions about the man with the tattoo, other than that he was a dumbass for getting a tattoo. I certainly didn't find his joke funny, but I did find it intriguing that he chose to say it to a complete stranger. And I do think it's important to remember that there is a difference between words and action. As horrible as it is to be called names for any reason, it still beats the hell out of getting your ass kicked. As morally offensive as hate language can be, at least there is no such thing as a Killing Joke.

Which brings us to the new Stephen Malkmus album. You see, when Stephen Malkmus left Pavement, he

Hey! Wait a second! You know what album I should review here!? The new Killing Joke CD!!!! Because the CD booklet is just as colorful as that guy I met today!!! It fits perfectly!!!

I had feared that my beloved Killing Joke had broken up for good, it having been SEVEN goddem years since we saw Democracy (if Bush gets re-elected, I'll be saying the same thing in 2007!), but luckily I was more mistaken than a woman over 40 who thinks she's attractive. Not only are they BACK for the BIG MAC ATTACK, but they're still as GREAT as a Siamese twin DOUBLE-DATE!

I'd always heard that Ministry were influenced by Killing Joke, but never has a reverse influence been as clear as on this release. Most of these songs revolve around really KICKASS drumbeats and one or two heavy chords and/or naggingly incessant chords repeating, repeating, ever repeating like an electric guitar-playing robot that's been struck by lightning and is just sitting there smoking and eking out the only sounds its memory card still knows how to play. And Jaz is every bit as paranoid and bitter as ever, using today's headlines to warn the listener about (and understand that each of these lines is from a different song) "oil barons running the government," "the centuries of lies," "a ball of fire from heaven, terror from nowhere," "silent weapons for a quiet war" (Hey! I've read that article! It's in "Secret And Suppressed" by Jim Keith! Yay for me and my smartness!), "five corporations (that) earn more than forty-six nations," "dawn (that) brings a day of hell" and "the end of international law," as well as summing up his dangerous thought patterns in one brilliant line: "Some conspiracy theorists say great danger awaits those who get too close to the truth about the secret rulers of the world." God, I fuckin LOVE Killing Joke!!!

Both Paul Raven and Youth are credited for bass guitar on this album, if you ask me. Furthermore, the majority of the songs both musically and lyrically ride along on a tense boat of anger and madness (which, semantically speaking, you'd think would mean the exact same thing, but that's something for you to discuss with Webster, if the jury ever reaches a verdict in his Devil trial). The guitarist doesn't do a whole lot -- just loud chords and tap-tap-tap note repetition -- but the band works as an extremely powerful and tight unit, driven by some of the more interesting and hypnotic drum patterns you're going to hear from a rock album this year (played by David Grohl!? He's listed as a band member! Was that part of the "Come As You Are" settlement or something?). The only break from the industrial metal oppression comes in the never-say-die nostalgia of "You'll Never Get To Me," which seems more musically suited to Democracy than this album, but it makes a perfect break in the burning auktion. Christ, I REALLY love this fuckin' band. I've listened to this CD twice while writing the review, and it just makes me want to go back and listen to everything they've ever recorded. Especially Jaz's voice. Whether singing, shouting or using this horrific new raspy dying vocal approach he's developed, he just sounds so POWERFUL and REAL - like he MEANS it! Well-worn and wheezy, but still as melodic as a man this angry can be. A few of the riffs can come across as cliched, and the keyboard (when it appears, which is seldom) is way too 80sy to not sound weak. But otherwise, this is a terrific, terrific record by a band that deserves to be nominated as the official mascot of Feral House Publishing.

Either them or a big happy turtle that tap dances. They could name him "Tappy The Turtle," and make funny commercials where he's pursued all over the world by angry Freemasons before finally being rescued by a clogging Anton Lavey, at which point they share a happy dance together! Oh, I LIKE it! I like it a LOT good!

Reader Comments
First of all my compliments on your reviews.

Big KJ fan here. Killing Joke has been a way of life for me.

I’ve just seen them play live in Amsterdam (12 aug. 2003) for the fifth time and it was their best I’d seen.

Shame that they did not play their best track ever, IMPLANT. Spoke to Geordie about this afterwards and I had to repeat the title of this track because he did not know what song I meant!!!!!!

If this band is able to make 1 or 2 albums like their eponymous latest than they’re bound to become greater than ever!

Don’t worry. I thing Fire Dances is f*cking great too!!!!
I agree the 2003 Killing Joke album is a strong, consistent effort. I'd never have expected them to come up with such a great album this deep into an extremely erratic musical career! By the way, thanks for putting together this web page; I've had a great couple of hours pouring over it and bouncing back and forth between it and the Killing Joke entry in the website. Cheers!
I bought the record and thought it was great for this stage of their careers, I really liked the opening track, and Implant the best. The rework of wardance was pretty cool also

Ya said it all, man.

Just wanna sum it up: KJ 03 is the f......TRUTH - mighty,nacked and frightening!
Jaz is my neighbour, on Waiheke Island, NZ.
He is now a writer and come part-time composer for the Auckland (& also the New Zealand) Symphony Orchestra.
He's a very intelligent and talented guy.
Killing Joke lead the foray for alot of the youth in the UK (and elsewhere) that had to live through the post cold-war European Nihiliism of the 70's and 80's,
I saw them (KJ) perform many times - the most notable a concert performed at the "Barrowlands" in Glasgow around 1984. He had a broken arm after a fracas at a previous gig in Newcastle as I remember.
In fact, I haven't seen yet a more pirific (sp) display of human emotion as can be experianced by a live Killing Joke rendition of "Wardance" .
Both of our music interests now are very varied, but we do seem to discuss TOOL quite abit. (Mike from Toronto)
Fantastic website! Glad to see you're keeping it updated and your prose stylings and criticisms are among the finest (and funniest) I've ever seen. Thanks very much for creating a magically amazing site deticated to, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest bands ever!! Maybe we'll see another album in 2005?! Woohooo!
Ha Ha Heee HAW!!! - Aw, this is fuckin' wonderful!! I havn't laughed so much in fuckin' ages mate! This is a totally great KJ site - thank you ever so much... Lotsa luv - Rat x (Shane)
Hey all.Great website.You all sound like proffesional music reveiw writers.I can tell im in the presence of true music fans.The descriptions are great,trudging,hipnotic,marching,sureal,all great words to try and get your arms around a band and a sound thats so strange,powerful and ever changing.I just stumbled onto KJ and(here we go for my first comparison,sorry)immediatly heard Cult's album"Love".One of my favorites.Mabye there was alittle cross influence or both just feeling that same collage radio/alt. mid 80's vibe.The cult had that almost dancable but plenty heavy sound going.Killing Joke though is by far the bravest band Ive ever heard(Is that a disco base line?)I too am searching for good music almost in vain.Have found albums with 1 good song per,Auf Der Maur's "followed the wave",Autolux"here comes everybody"and subzero fun".Its interesting and refreshing to here a version of The Wait that is lighter and cleaner but has even more stregnth due to its legitamacy(not trying for maximum distorsion/powerchord/crunch as was the push in the late eighties)KJ's clean but heavy repeditive rythems put you in an energetic trance.Not sure if they are brillant or snorting crystal meth for days on end to come up with this stuff,and then to be brave enuff to put it out to a bewildered public.Ive been watching hangliding videos to thier music.Wish it was safe to soar and do areobatics with my mp3 player and headphones.Cant do it.Mahalo from Hawaii
Ministry's Animoshamalamadingdong and this record were probably my two most wanted of 2003. I loved both of them when they came out, but I found Animofoshizzlemynizzle disappointing when I gave it another listen a couple of years later. (Looking at your updated Animalsisagoodpinkfloydalbum review, apparently the same thing happened to you.) But I've just started listening to the Jokers again after not listening to much of anything for a disturbing about of time, and this record still rocks my cock and my socks and my clocks and everything else I own that ends in -ock. (That reminds me; I wish I owned a hammock. Not only because they're comfortable and I'm a lazy drunk, but because it ends in -ock and it would be one more thing for this record to rock.)

"The Death and Resurrection Show" has maybe the best intro of any Jokers song ever recorded. "Listen to the drums..." BUM!!! BUM!!!, BUM!!! BUM!!!. I was going to write something like, "If you post this comment on the Killing Joke page, make the font of those BUM!!!s really big," but you'd have to make them annoyingly huge to represent that fucking drum sound. Love the pre-chorus, too. "Burn burn, burn brightly, burn burn..." And that's just one of the awesome songs! The whole album is great, aside from a couple of tracks that I could do without.

Not their best overall, but great. That comment down there for Hosannas from the Basement of Hell about how "Geordie HATED the 2003 album" just baffles me. Is he on the marijuana cigarettes or something?

Add your thoughts?

Requiem: Lokerse 2003 - Charly Films LLC 2009
Rating = 7


I'm drunk. This live album is all muffled and muffly. And asshole Geordie's all like "What, we're playing 'The Fall Of Because'? Great, then I'll just lazily half-ass two chords rather than playing the actual guitar line." And there's a terrible FRABBBUZZSHIT noise every time Jaz sings "White Out!" in "Whiteout." It ruins everything in the world. And if the bassist is playing the harmonics in "WarDance" like he's supposed to be, I sure as fucking hell can't hear it so thanks for nothing, bass player. The drummer is some guy from the Swans.

Why is the sissy pussy fag keyboard in gay homosexual queer "Pandemonium" louder than the manly hairy-chested masculine heterosexual lovemaking guitar? Piss Pump!

This live album is muffled. Get a better tape recorder.

More importantly, Jaz is hoarse. And they play four each from both self-titled albums, plus 2 Pandemoniums and 1 each single, What The Fuck and Fire Dances (in bold, and the one before it is actually What's This For...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................?"

Pecker pecker.

It's not fair. Things used to be so good. Now it's like I never went to college at all. What did I do wrong? What was I supposed to do?

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XXV Gathering: Let Us Prey - Cooking Vinyl 2005
Rating = 8

I became very drunk one night somehow and wrote a terrible review of this album. I forwarded it to Official Interview Transcriber Jim Laakso with a note asking him to edit it, and the next thing you know I get back the following PDF file via fax. If you don't have Adobe Acrobat, get it:

Killing Joke Review After Jim Laakso Contacted His Sources

Reader Comments

That "Bruce, the PREZ!" daydream thing had me rolling on the fucking floor. I don't know if you realize what the odds are that he's actually HAD that dream. The part where he reacts to you watching porn is really funny, too. "KRAVITZ IS A MAJOR VOICE"....ah fuck it the whole thing was funny. I don't know how you sat through GWAR though.
There you go with the drunken talk about murderers again.

That Jann Wenner bit was awesome, by the way.
Hi. I don't usually e-mail to have a comment added, though I've read probably all of the reviews and enjoyed the most of them. But this one was so hilarious I just had to write in and congratulate.
Hi, Mark. Long time reader, first time commenter. That review would have been hilarious on its own, but with the added notes from "JW" it's been elevated to Classic status. Well done to both you and "Jann"! Can I just say 'Hi' to my cousin Dave in Poughkeepsie?

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Hosannas From The Basement Of Hell - Cooking Vinyl 2006
Rating = 9

Why did the deformed duck scream unintelligibly at the concert promoter for ten minutes?

Because he didn't have top billing!

Yes, there's never a bad time for a good Billing Joke. Nor is there a GOOD time for a bad Killing Joke! As such, it's good that they're still out there kicking ass and taking asses' names. First of all, forget all that chunk-chunk-chunk metallic guitar you might have heard on their last album. Geordie's got his treble and reverb turned up to super-FRAAAAAHHHHH again, and is apparently deadset on filling every ounce of space in the mix with the beautiful roaring orange sound of his insane guitar running through the world's sickest chords. I think this album might even be more frantic and pissed off than the well-received last one; at very least, it has three smashing uptempo industrial-punk-metal songs (title track, "Implosion" and the dancier but still 'doop-chick'y "Lightbringer") that'll have you headbanging all over the stage during your free time. Elsewhere among its nine tracks you'll find driving Democracy-style drone-pop-rock, Ministry-style industrial metal, violin-driven "Kashmir"-style goth, headsplooshing sludgecore, a NWOBHM-inspired evil metal licker, and something I've termed "Dancey Industrial Metal Sludge Disco!". See how specific I can be? Each of those tiny descriptors refers to one of the six remaining tracks! I have now told you about every song on here, and you're none-the-wiser.

Backing our truck up to get a more general view of the record, as I said it's really dominated by a wonderful overriding wash of Geordie's high-pitched psychotic guitar riding like two bitter, enslaved chords for six minutes at a stretch, occasionally stopping to attempt an actual harrowing melody comprised of notes. Ben Calvert's drums alternate between tribal pounding and industrial clunking, and may be electronic for all I know; it certainly doesn't sound like Dave Grohl or any other drummer with a hint of creativity! Though most of the tracks differ from each other stylistically, they all cater to the formula "Long, Repetitive, Hypnotic, Loud Guitars, Raspy Vocals." A few keyboards are present, fairly buried in the mix but adding a bit of color to the bleak reverbed-to-Hell guitar washout. A couple of the songs have danceable drumbeats, others are destined for headbanging thrashcorers, still others pound too brutally to do anything but listen. And to be more specific about that whole 'long songs' thing: "Majestic," the second-shortest song on here, is five minutes and forty seconds long. Which means that 7 of these 9 songs exceed that length. So tell your wife to get ready for a long, hard night with the KJ yelly!

On the negative tip, if you're determined to keep your riffs this minimalist, they'd better all either do some pretty serious tearing or have something sad and deep to say. Most of the time The Killin' Joke succeed, with strangled blasts of SHREAAPADAAPAPAPDPAPDPAP and heartbreaking arpeggios that fit Jaz's rage and angst perfectly. But there are definitely a few songs that suffer from the ol' "one great part/one dull predictable chord sequence" disease. Not a single song totally stinks though; know that by my name. Also know that this album sounds like absolutely nobody but Killing Joke. As usual, the riffs drip with unhappiness, but are not offputting or Swansingly punishing at all. They just sound paranoid, upset, and at times damn-near beautiful in their hopelessness.

God, I love this fuckin band. If you're curious, I've loved the first album since the late '80s, but my second purchase by them was regrettably the synth-heavy Brighter Than A Thousand Suns, which my young punk-loving self couldn't tolerate at the time. Luckily, only about a year or two after that, they returned from the sissy grave with the awesomely pissed-off Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions and have put out nothing but winners ever since. I tried to listen to their 1993 album earlier this evening for the first time in a couple years, and I must say -- I think this one is better. It's definitely got a more idiosyncratic "Killing Joke" sound to it, and I love how the guitar covers every ounce of space in the mix. Who needs space in a mix? Girls? Women? Ladies?

Yeah, they probably need space to put an egg once a month, the whores.

POST-SCRIPT: This was the final Killing Joke album to feature bassist Paul Raven, who tragically passed away of a heart attack in 2007.

Reader Comments
To this day I am in awe of this band’s debut album. It must be one of the greatest debut albums by any band, ever! But then the singer had to go and make out with this (stupid) girl I was dating when they came through town and now I cannot listen to them anymore. Kind of like how it’s hard to listen to Nirvana now. Well, not entirely unlike that. Nevermind. (D. Sudia)
Figured you could slap this under the 'Hosannas' review in the comments section. Seems their bassist Paul Raven had a falling out with someone...probably Jaz....OK it really couldnt be anyone OTHER than Jaz, but regardless, he's not touring with the band this spring/summer and is all mad, and all he'll say is "Remember Iceland?". And of course you know what usually happens when Killing Joke members fight and/or go crazy = another 5-7 years without a new album. So cherish this (legitimately awesome) new album, its the last we'll see for a while. Goddamnit. Why can't this band ever make more than 2 albums at a time!?!?!?!?!??

Oh and you're missing the "Gathering XXV" live CD & DVD that came out last summer. Not sure if you knew about that one. I hear it's pretty good. Jaz launches into a "Who Killed Princess Di?" speech for 3 minutes before 'The Wait.' Gotta love it.
I was going to hype this one up to the max and say it's by far the best thing they've done since Extremities (which is my personal benchmark for KJ) but then I had a listen to KJ(2002) and I'd forgotton just how much that rocks to!

I think for better or worse though this definately marks a substantial shift in style from what they've been doing from Pandemonium onwards. The last three albums are all damn fine make no mistake, but I think they've got more of a pounding groove on this one, rather than 'songs' with discernable structure. Obviously I'd be limiting my appreciation of music if I had no time for songs, but I think KJ are more convincing when they play this kind of relentless, thundering blast of aggression. KJ(2002) has got more inter-song dynamics and some of the songs are really cool, but occasionally I think it comes off as just a little bit contrived. Also I think the politics on the last album is a bit overbearing. I don't have a problem with the message and I've got plenty of time for anyone singing lines like "five corperations own more than 46 nations, you've got blood on your hands!" I mean hats off to Jaz, I applaud his sentiment, but such obviously political content can get in the way of what the MUSIC is saying. I mean tracks like Invocation on this one, you can really feel the impending apocalypse, in the music and the vocals, WITHOUT having to actually hear what Jaz is saying! And you can read the lyrics and they really connect, but the message is conveyed on the strength of the sound alone! This album has got serious atmosphere, on a par with Extremities, perhapse even better, I've not had this long enough to judge yet.

Another cool thing about this album is the artwork. FUCKING YES MAN! If I'm going to listen to the sound of the demons of hell tearing out of the abyss then I want that visual component to complament it. Anyone who's not got this album go to and you'll see what I'm talking about. Every part of this album fits together it just feels like everything jelled, the whole thing. I can understand the point of the last album, all very anti-capitalism/consumerism, wearing their political agenda on their sleeves; cheap looking cover maybe some kind of political statement in itself. Fair enough, I respect that, but aesthetically it's like that kind of intelectuall modern art, you know? like the urinal, or the bed with paint on it. I understand the theory that makes it art. I'm ok with that. But at the end of the day you can show me a toilet in an art gellery and tell me its art and I'll say "ok fine, good for you, now point me in the direction of the fucking Dalli paintings with the melting faces, so I can go and really FEEL something!" y'know?

Bottom line: this album just really works for me as a whole. It fucking kicks ass! And if the emotion this album transmits to me is any kind of indication of the state of mind these guys are in right now, then seeing them live this saturday is going to be fucking awesome!

Hi Mark,

Really enjoying this page, lots of really cool responces to, makes me feel totally validated in being completely enraptured with this band. Anyway I don't really know where to put this comment, but I just felt the inclination to mention that I saw an interview with Jaz recently and he said that the whole 'Iceland-Apocalypse' thing is actually rubbish, that he just wanted to bugger off somewhere quiet so that he could learn to transcribe classical music. Don't know if that's true, but that's what he says so there you go.
Good afternoon Mark,

Hope you are well. I woke up this morning to the sad news that Raven, Killing Joke bassist, died earlier today. I've been thinking about the band a lot today, and re-reading your reviews. Like a lot of people, the first music of theirs I heard was the first album, which has always stuck out as being a total original in the blend of styles and the fact that Jaz sang with an English accent. Personally, my favourite is Extremeties... as it is flat out one of the most angry records I have ever heard. Spending my teens and early twenties around goths I heard the other albums before Outside The Gate and it's true, whatever KJ did was worth hearing, even if the results were varied.

They influenced me pretty much more than any other band as a musician. What I learned from them, when I started to learn the drums, was that even the most angry, violent music could be made more potent with that steady rhythmic pulse, and that the drummer can contribute absolutely as much as any other member creatively.

They always have had this "maaad" reputation in the UK, but the fact is that they seem to be just an honest and at times really funny bunch of people.

Long may they do their thing!
Adding mystery to incomprehension, this, from Wikipedia:

"In October 2006 it was announced that Coleman had been chosen as Composer in Residence for the European Union. As Composer in Residence he will be commissioned to write music for special occasions."

No wonder Europe is so fucked-up!!! (Of course, I love KJ, it's just that Jaz is utterly and ridiculously insane)...
Having recently gone nuts and purchased Killing Joke's entire discography, I now feel inclined to share a whole wad (yes, wad) of interesting KJ trivia I've acquired. Most of it is in response to some of the stuff on your Killing Joke page (part of what inspired me to get into them in the first place, oddly enough), some of it just kinda came out of nowhere.

* The original vinyl version of Brighter Than A Thousand Suns was actually a re-mix done without the band's consent. The most recent CD re-issue actually contains the original mixes which, among other things, remove a lot of the excess reverb on the instruments (especially the drums), and push the keyboards more to the back of the mix while bringing the guitars up considerably (yay!). There are also a few bonus tracks, two of which ("Goodbye To The Village" and "Exile") could have easily bumped out some of the less interesting material on side two.

* There's a recent re-issue of Extremities floating around with 4 demos from 1989 tacked on at the end. It's worth seeking out to hear the otherwise unreleased "The Party" and a radically different version of "Solitude", even if the remastering job itself isn't that great. On that same re-issue we also get an agonizingly slowed-down live take on Age Of Greed where Jaz once again alters his rant at the end: "Do not push me too a different time, on a different channel, I would gladly take a gun...and put it to your head...AND PULL THE TRIGGER! (*music stops*) ...just to teach you everything has a price..." Supposedly Jaz didn't even want the original rant on the album version because he was worried someone might take it too literally, but Martin Atkins said something to the effect of "don't be a pussy" and Jaz eventually compromised by putting that "you are an inspiration to me" bit at the beginning of The Beautiful Dead.

* Geordie Walker almost became the guitarist for Faith No More! From Kerrang magazine: "Killing Joke guitarist Geordie auditioned for the vacant guitarist spot in Faith No More after Jim Martin's dismissal. When the band told him he'd got the gig, the urbane guitarist turned them down, saying, 'You're far too suburban, I wouldn't dream of working with any of you.'"

* Supposedly there are some songs floating around from the 2003 sessions where John Dolmayan of System Of A Down is playing drums instead of Dave Grohl. Also, Geordie HATED the 2003 album.

That's about it for now. But say, have you heard the original line-up is back together for the first time since 1982? I'm gonna be seeing 'em play live in NYC. How about you?
Is it weird that I like these last two albums more than anything since the 1980 debut? As much as I like What's THIS For...!, Revelations, Fire Dances, Night Time, Extremities, and Pandemonium, and even though those albums have some songs that will probably be more memorable in the overall history of the band, Killing Joke 2003 and Hosannas just seem like consistently better albums. And not only is the music excellent, they sound exactly like Killing Joke without it sounding like they're repeating themselves, like Ministry did with their last three albums or Metallica did with Death Magnetic. I like The Last Sucker and Death Magnetic, but there's no way in hell I would say they're my second favorite Ministry and Metallica albums, and I can say that KJ03 and Hosannas are tied for my second favorite Killing Joke album. (KJ80 will always be my favorite. I think I may be biased there.) This shit is just astonishingly good, and it's so pleasing to see a band that's been around for thirty years putting out stuff like this now.

Add your thoughts?

Duende: The Spanish Sessions - Killing Joke 2008
Rating = 9

Paul Raven passed away in 2007. He asked not for it, lest none of us betwixt thither and thou. But lo, with tragedy comes retribution, and thus the original Killing Joke line-up reunited for the first time since Revelations to tour the world in a gigantic space van with "The Who" written on the side. The result was this album: the reunited band's practice session! Kicking bleeding bloody arse on 6 Killing Joke (Original), 3 Pandemonium, 2 Night Time, 1 what's THIS for...! and 2 non-LP tracks, Killing Joke prove that they remain the greatest band of mentally ill paranoiacs in the worldiverse!

Geordie plays his distorted high-pitched guitar, Jaz sings through his scraggly hoarse throat, Paul hits the drums hard and on time, and Youth plays the bass like he never recorded two horrible techno albums with Paul McCartney. The mix is terrific, the set list is mostly on-the-knob (except maybe the overlong "Tomorrow's World" and dull-versed "Millennium") and the performances are completely top-of-house (except "Pandemonium," which finds a clearly bored-as-shit Geordie playing dick-around metal licks instead of the jubilant original riff).

The thing is: the performances are so strong and faultless (complete with the appropriate synth tones for each track -- including latter-day House Rave Dance Spectacular "White Out"!) that there's really no reason for anybody but Killing Joke completists to hear them! Unless you're just blown to bits by the thought of Paul Ferguson drumming on some Pandemonium songs for the first time ever, this is just another great recording of this great band performing great songs that they've played many, many times before. And yes, what's here is great, but it's also awfully disappointing that they chose to touch on a mere FOUR of KJ's twelve studio albums. For example, what in Hell happened to Revelations? It's one of only THREE studio albums to feature this line-up, and they pretend it doesn't exist!? Well it DOES! I've been there, on that album.

Of particular note are these points I am about to make:

- With Youth back in the bass fold, "Pssyche" finally gets its disco bass line back!
- Whoever sings "Pssyche" is unable to sing it with anything near the vitriol of the original. Thankfully, the band kicks the absolute fucking energetic holy hell awesomeness out of it.
- You can hear the three descending keyboard chords in the chorus of "Are You Receiving?"! It's amazing how many renditions of that song completely bury what is easily the most melodic part of the song.
- Geordie uses a cleaner guitar tone in "$036," somehow rendering the song even creepier!
- Jaz is incapable of shutting his lousy pie hole (or "Mouth") during the supposed instrumental "Bloodsport," instead taking the opportunity to share such critical insights as "I defend the right of every citizen to bear arms. Not to protect yourself, but just for pleasure!"
- Near the end of "Pandemonium," silly ol' Geordie sneaks in a couple bars of the "Democracy" riff! Oh you Geordie! You're always Geordiein' us around like that!
- There's some creepy descending noise going on in "Eighties"! What is it? A second guitar? A synth? Jaz shaking a fly swatter at the government-controlled mosquitos that are implanting violent thoughts in his mind?
- How in Dicksville USR is Jaz able to hit the high notes in final track "Love Like Blood" after he's just spent the previous hour raspily shouting through the shredded skin-flaps of a mutilated throat?

Actually, okay -- if you're as big a Killing Joke fan as I am, you NEED THIS. I've given you all the reasons. GO BUY IT! And let's pray that this line-up manages to put together a new studio album before Jaz runs off to Iberia to avoid The Big Conspiracy.

Reader Comments
"How in Dicksville USR is Jaz able to hit the high notes in final track "Love Like Blood" after he's just spent the previous hour raspily shouting through the shredded skin-flaps of a mutilated throat?"

He doesn't sing this part and lets a sample do the job. It's especially apparent on the live dvd.

Add your thoughts?

The Gathering 2008 - Eastworld 2009
Rating = 7

Hi e'erbody! I'm a top dentist of today and can't wait to tell you my Filling Joke. Here, check this shit out:

Why did the Polack dentist's filling fail to relieve the pain of his cavity-stricken patient?
Because it was chocolate filling! Har har har Fuck you, The Polish! You'll never catch up to the groundbreaking techniques of the American Dental Board.

Hi, I'm a popular new farmer and I can't wait to tell you my Tilling Joke. Here it is:

Why was the dentist late for work?
Because he was drilling his wife! Haw haw no wait.

Why is it that nobody can release a Killing Joke live album that isn't all muddy-sounding? Do they really sound this bassy and indistinct in concert? If so, is it Geordie's fault for using such a high-pitched trebly tone? If so, why can I so rarely even make out what the bassist is playing? Come on, Killing Joke live album recorders, stop making them sound like muffled old stumblebums.

The Gathering 2008 is a four-disc box set compiling the original line-up's two reunion shows at the London Forum. You can also purchase them as two separate double-CDs; if so, I recommend the 10/3 show, at which they performed the first two albums in their entireties along with four other classic songs. The 10/4 show is good too, but not as exciting -- for some reason, they played an inordinate amount of Pandemonium tracks that night. Only six of the 10/3 songs were repeated the next night, but unfortunately the always awful "Change" was among them, so congratulations "Change" fans because here are two more renditions of your favorite white funk disaster. Altogether, the four discs feature six Pandemonium tracks, three Revelations, two Night Time, one each Killing Joke (03) and Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions, and four non-LP tracks.

And all of the first two albums, obviously. I didn't feel the need to say that again.

Okay, I did.

Jaz Coleman is a talky fellow with a lot on his political mind, so I took the liberty bell home to my apartment, painted it blue and h

Jaz Coleman is a talky fellow with a lot on his political mind, so I took the liberty of writing down some of his choice cutlets for your entertainment. Here then are just a few of the reasons that my wife shook her head halfway through the second disc and muttered, "Stick to playing music":

"It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable we're all here!"

"The Empire is bankrupt! The killing must begin."

"I wanna rid you of the burden of knowing that 9/11 was a fucking inside job!"

"The ancient primitive rite - 'Primitive'!"

(*before "Eighties"*) "This one should've always been called "Push, Push, Struggle.'"

"You always know when Killing Joke starts up that either a fucking war's gonna begin or a bank's going down. So you have this inner dread every time."

"Decentralization of government -- they haven't got any money! Banking is forbidden; barter is acceptable."

"It makes you wonder when you're a member of the European Union why we need NATO bases -- why we need American Air Force bases in our country... This country is an occupied country!"

"There's been a lot of print about the right to die. This one's called 'Exit.'"

(*following a touching moment of silence for late bassist Paul Raven*) "Paul Raven, come back to us tonight."

"We use these occasions to expel all the extraneous guilt that we're carrying."

"Bono says that George Bush is the savior of Africa, and America cuts off all the water in Africa!"

"It's called money -- because there isn't any!"

"Between now and 2012, the world will accelerate nine million years."

"The question is - is there a future? Can we dream a future? Because if we can dream it, it can happen!"

"This one's for the girl in the back with the winnebagos the size of my head!"

Oh alright, that last one was actually from a Meatmen album. But can't I have a gentle laugh at the expense of America's minstrel, Jaz Coleman of England's Killing Joke?

These shows were probably amazing to attend, but the recording's just not crisp or clear enough for me to recommend "blowing your wad" of "semen" on the entire pricey set. The most exciting surprise is a brand new fun'n'catchy rocker called "Time Wave," but apparently it's going to be on their 2010 studio CD anyway.

So I'll close with the timeless classic Grilling Joke:

Why is it no longer possible to see Lil Jon in the dark, even when he smiles?
Because he read somewhere that you're always supposed to keep charcoal in your grillz! Har har stupid black people! They'll never be President.

Which reminds me of a rotten joke that just popped into my head:

What's the difference between Jaz Coleman and a porn starlet?
One does Killing Joke; the other does jilling, coke! Har har stupid Jaz Coleman! You don't tug your wang and snort blow onstage like a smart person do.

Reader Comments
Yeah I was at both gigs and can assure you they were amazing. I somehow ended up after the first night with a load of brutal looking welts all across my back and I think someone must have battered me in the side at some stage, because I had a nasty pain just bellow my ribs on my right side for weeks after. THAT'S what I call a proper gig experience!

It was funny to be there both nights and see the difference in the crowd. I think quite alot of people were there both nights, I recognised a few faces and there was a definate sense that a fair few people were taking it a little more easy on the Saturday. I actually enjoyed the second night more, Asteroid and Money Is Not Our God were fantastic, although the new track they played was pretty's true though the recordings don't really match up. Maybe some things are never meant to be, like a good live Swans recording, pre "Swans Are Dead".

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In Excelsis EP - Spinefarm 2010
Rating = 8

Look, I'm no fool. I know there are certain things that shouldn't be posted online. The problem is that I post them anyway. Perfect example:

I've been going through a strange period, as you may know from my recent reviews and Facebook updates. My wife up and left me after 15 1/2 years together, and I've been dealing with it by hanging out with friends, going to karaoke twice a week, trying to meet new people, and drinking way too much. I'm not going to name names, but one of those four activities needs to go.

I'm not an alcoholic, understand. I only drink a couple nights a week, and never drink alone. I don't even keep any alcohol in the house. It's just that when I do drink, I drink WAY too much. No beer, no wine, just double-shot after double-shot after double-shot of vodka. So I hope that helps to explain what I did last night, and why I'm posting it here as a reminder to myself and a warning to you.

What happened is this: I was tanked at karaoke as usual, having a good old time chatting up the LAYDEEZ, dancing like a fool and singing such hits of the day as "I Can See For Miles" and "Punk Rock Girl." Things were swell and everything was just nifty. But then around 3:30 AM, two minor things happened that sent my sloshed mood into a complete tailspin. The first is that the karaoke woman snipped at me so I thought I'd done something to piss her off. The second is that the karaoke man asked me to go home, so I thought I'd done something to piss him off. As it turns out, she was pissed at him (not me), and he saw me falling asleep and didn't want me to get thrown out. But I didn't know that until today.

So I left the club, got in a cab, got home, posted on Facebook that I was about to commit suicide, opened my front door wide so my body would be found, ran the hot water in the tub, got in with a knife, tried to slice the veins in my arms open, failed because the knife was dull as dirt, posted on Facebook that I'd tried but the knife was too dull, heard the door buzzer buzz, checked it out to discover that somebody on Facebook had called 911, let the police and ambulance people in, got some clothes on, followed them out to the ambulance, and was held in a psych ward for eight hours.

So now let me tell you about what happened last night. First of all, I MISSED A NOTE in "I Can See For Miles," then I b

My point is this: I don't want to die. I didn't even want to die last night. I was simply out of control because I was so drunk. If that knife had been adequately sharp, I might be dead now -- not because I'm legitimately suicidal (I'm not! I promise! I'm feeling pretty good!), but simply because I was too drunk to realize what I was doing. I absolutely have to take this experience as a Hard Stop Warning that if I continue to deal with my grief by binge drinking twice a week, I'm going to wind up in jail, dead or worse. (an undead zombie)

So let this be a warning to you all: if you're going to kill yourself, don't post it on Facebook. It makes you look like an asshole.

This EP features four new compositions by the original (reunited) Killing Joke line-up, but manages to sound just like the last four studio albums anyway. And that's goodly! Pandemonium-ready two-chord pop anthem "In Excelsis" kicks things off with walls of guitars and doors of gorgeous keyboards, sick pounder "Endgame" kicks things in the ass with scratchy-scratch vocals and the heaviest bass tone ever heard in a KJ track, driving rocker "Kali Yuga" kicks things into reverse by sounding a heck of a lot like a song they've already recorded ("Pssyche"? "Are You Receiving"? Other?), and gloomy reggae "Ghost Of Ladbroke Grove" kicks things into low-gear with sad keyboard wisps and corny "Danger danger! Stranger stranger!" whisper vocals.

The band plans to release a full-length CD later this year, but hasn't yet decided whether any of these songs will be included. If so, E hope they pick one ov thee first two songs. E love thee first two, but thee others? Coum on!

I'll give you a prize package worth $400,000 if you can guess who I'm reading a book about right now. I'll give you a hint: it's Throbbing Gristle.

So start clearing out a space in your home -- $400,000 worth of ball hair is on the way!

Reader Comments
First: I sincerely wish a bunch of good things to happen to you. Anybody who is willing to review both Blue Oyster Cult and the Residents deserves them.

Second: I was so busy waiting for the full length that news of an EP escaped me… But now that you’ve brought it to my attention, it’s a good one. I am guessing that you have not yet decided to do the Hawkwind reviews, because I’m sure you’d have noted how Ghosts of Ladbroke Grove sounds not entirely unlike The Camera That Could Lie. Given how Killing Joke are Sensational Alex Harvey Band fans, it’s not a huge jump over to Hawkwind…

Mike in Toronto
Hey there. First and most importantly, best of luck battling the shittiness that's befallen you lately, Mark. I hope that the blue skies that inevitably appear beyond the storm come to you sooner rather than later, dude. Take care of yourself, bro.

Second, it's great to see that you're still following Killing Joke. I know you've been a devoted fan for many years and it's always a pleasure to read your reviews on one of my all-time favorite bands. I've gotta say, though... In Excelsis didn't meet my expectations at all. Like yourself, I really dig the sound that Killing Joke developed in the nineties starting with Pandemonium, but if In Excelsis is a culmination of the direction they've been going in, I'm pretty unimpressed. Personally, I think that Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions was the perfect balance between their early stuff (Self-Titled, What's This For), mid-period stuff (Night Time) and the stuff they're doing these days (Pandemonium through to Hosannas From the Basements of Hell). Extremities had brilliant song structures and melodies, hugely emotional themes and vocal delivery, brilliant musicianship on all fronts, epic synth lines and all the energy and rage that has always made Killing Joke a giant force in music. I definitely don't think that the subsequent albums like Pandemonium, Democracy, 2001 or Hosannas were a decline for KJ. I value them for all the same reasons I value Extremities, but I think that Extremities created a balance of everything that makes Killing Joke great better than anything that came before or after. I see In Excelsis as a real lag in the creative energies of the band. It's like they thought that because all the original members have gotten back together, all the stars would align and with minimal effort they'd produce a quality piece of work. It didn't happen. I feel like they're going for a loose, free-jam that's devoid of melody when they should be piecing something together with painstaking care and deep focus. They should be composing with thought and deliberation instead of just letting themselves drift into their new songs. I have plenty of respect for the jam, but at this point I wish that Jaz would save some of his composition skills for Killing Joke instead of using them all up on his classical work outside the band. I hope they leave these songs out of the new album. I'm glad we're getting new KJ 30 years after the band's conception, and at this point I'll take what I can get, but I think I've become a bit of a slave to melody and In Excelsis is severely lacking in that department.

Add your thoughts?

Absolute Dissent - Spinefarm 2010
Rating = 8

If Killing Joke had any idea how good they were, they'd change their name to "Really Good Joke." Like the preceding In Excelsis EP (3/4ths of which is included here), the first Jaz/Geordie/Youth/Big Paul full-length since 1982's Revelations sounds a lot more like '90s/'00s Joke than '80s Joke, but not to anybody's detriment. The heavily fuzzed and reverbed guitar tone fills every nook and fanny in the mix just as on the two preceding records, but the songs' mixture of melancholy and hope is much more reminiscent of the Pandemonium/Democracy era than its raging, aggressive Killing Joke/Hosannas follow-up. Jaz sounds very tuneful, the beats are as danceable as they are headbangable, and fans who've followed KJ's output for the past two decades are unlikely to be too surprised by what they hear (aside from possibly "European Single State," a dark disco single that sounds specifically designed to be a hipster hit).

But yay for melody! Those who "got off" on the surprisingly optimistic sound of "In Excelsis" will probably "pop a boner" when they hear the lovely U2-esque Paul Raven tribute "The Raven King," scraggly but warm and hopeful "Honour The Fire," and uptempo note-driven riffer "Here Comes The Singularity." Things get a bit darker in the worried disco-rock title track, bendy-note rocker "The Great Cull," and brooding tempo-shifting screamer "Depth Charge," but nowhere will you encounter the sort of blistering thrash anger expressed on the previous two records.

Two one-chord wonders stink up the joint ("Fresh Fever From The Skies," which at least has a decent chorus; and "This World Hell," which is the worst song they've recorded since Outside The Gate), but otherwise it's another strong outing for England's insanest bunch of conspiracy believers!

That review seems too short, but you can read about the lyrical matter on Wikipedia if you want. The important thing to know is that if you're a Killing Joke fan, you will continue to be one when you hear this CD. It sounds just like their other recent work, but with brand new melodies for you to hum and sing.

But hey! Here's a funny story. The other night, I had so many bad dreams about my failed marriage that I literally woke myself up CRYING!

On a sadder note, I saw Pavement live in Central Park last night and they were wonderful! Great sound, great playing, great humor, great set list. Here's what they played:

Westing By Musket And Sextant - Heckler Spray, Debris Slide, Summer Babe
Slanted & Enchanted - In The Mouth A Desert, Perfume-V, Conduit for Sale!, No Life Singed Her, Trigger Cut, Here
Cold & Wiggly EP (or whatever the hell it's called) - Frontwards
Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain - Cut Your Hair, Gold Soundz, Silent Kids, Unfair, Stop Breathing, Elevate Me Later, Heaven Is A Truck, Range Life
Wowee Zowee - Grounded, We Dance, Rattled By The Rush, Kennel District, Father to a Sister of Thought
Brighten The Corners - Shady Lane, Date W/ Ikea, Stereo, Starlings of the Slipstream
Terror Twilight - Spit on a Stranger, The Hexx

There were two bits that made me laugh. Well, three if you count Scott Kannberg wearing a cap to cover his baldness. The first involved "We Dance," during which Bob Nastanovich danced onstage with his lovely wife Ms. Nastanovich. When the song and dance ended, Steve Malkmus said into the mic, "That was great!" After a few seconds, he clarified, "Not the song...." The second involved a repetitive looped noise getting louder and louder and LOUDER AND LOUDER until it suddenly stopped dead just as Steven played two fumbly notes on his guitar. A few seconds of silence followed before he explained, "That would've been great, but I...." and adjusted his guitar string to the correct tuning. Make me laugh with your amateurish ways and comedy, Pavement! Also they had to restart two songs because they messed them up right at the beginning. Still, they sounded great! I was thrilled because I expected it to be boring. The only reason I went is because my wife and I had bought the tickets eleven months earlier (I will never forget how I JOKINGLY said to her at the time, "Eleven months!? We could be DIVORCED by then!") (*long, heavy, suicidal sigh*)

Even Bab Nastanovich was hilarious. He sounds like a dick when you hear him screaming on bootleg tapes, but when you actually see him doing it in person, the guy has charisma!

Reader Comments

Tom Gipson
This album is orgasmic. The only song I can't stand on it is the title track (which keeps looping in my head as I'm writing this). "The Raven King" is a beautiful song. Definitely my favorite.

Esther Clyne
I challenge he who moans ever about about anything Killing Joke have produced to write and produce something that would impress me more.....loving the reading here tho, u should be a stand up

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