Killing Joke

TrackAlbum
UnspeakableWhat's THIS for ... !
Fun And GamesFire Dances
EightiesNight Time
Money Is Not Our GodExtremities, Dirt & Various
Repressed Emotions
MillenniumPandemonium
DemocracyDemocracy
AsteroidKilling Joke (2003)
Hosannas From The
Basements Of Hell
Hosannas From The
Basements Of Hell
Pole ShiftMMXII
Empire SongRevelations

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Killing Joke photo

 

Contributor: Geoff Owen

Since 1978 Killing Joke have released 15 studio albums, 8 live albums, 16 compilations, 5 EPs and 31 singles and show no signs of stopping. This Toppermost 10 collects the band’s studio albums into 10 loose categories and highlights one song from each to represent their journey from terrifying punks to terrifying 80s pop stars to terrifying industrial pioneers to terrifying old men.

 

ALBUMS

Killing Joke (1980) / What’s THIS For… ! (1981) / Revelations (1982)

Killing Joke photo 1

Which ones are these?
The first three classic ones.

These are the best Killing Joke albums because …
Three albums in three years that cemented that KJ sound, getting progressively weirder and noisier. It’s all there: the pounding drums, the synths, that guitar sound, the menacing vocals, that feeling that the world is ending and you’re just dancing around having a lovely time but also you’re a bit scared.

One song to represent this era
UNSPEAKABLE from What’s THIS For … !

One Jaz Coleman face to represent this era

Killing Joke photo 2

Killing Joke fact
Vocalist Jaz Coleman and drummer “Big” Paul Ferguson attempted to summon a bassist and a guitarist for the band by performing a magic ritual. After setting fire to their flat, they put an advert in Melody Maker instead.

 

ALBUM

Fire Dances (1983)

Killing Joke photo 3

Which one is this?
The one that sounds like Adam Ant.

This is the best Killing Joke album because …
Kevin “Geordie” Walker’s guitar playing was probably at its most inventive and unique on this album. In a discography as large and diverse as Killing Joke’s, Fire Dances stands alone and deserves special mention. Also, it’s perfect for those times when you need to get naked, rub mud all over yourself, set fire to stuff and dance about in the woods.

One song to represent this album
FUN AND GAMES

One Jaz Coleman face to represent this album

Killing Joke photo 4

Killing Joke fact
After Jaz ran off to Iceland, the band performed on Top Of The Pops with a man in a bee keeping suit as a stand-in.

 

ALBUMS

Night Time (1985) / Brighter Than A Thousand Suns (1986)

Killing Joke photo 5

Which ones are these?
The 80s pop ones.

These are the best Killing Joke albums because …
They’re 80s pop albums that still manage to sound menacing and scary. Night Time is relatively heavy but BTATS is as polished and commercial as the band ever got. Underneath the gloss however, it’s still Killing Joke just with bigger melodies and a more emotional focus to the lyrics. Also, look at the cover for their ‘hit single’ Love Like Blood!

Killing Joke photo 6

One song to represent this era
EIGHTIES from Night Time

One Jaz Coleman face to represent this era

Killing Joke photo 7

Killing Joke Fact
In response to a bad review for Brighter Than A Thousand Suns in Melody Maker, Jaz visited the magazine’s offices with a bag of maggots, some raw liver, a knife and some of his best magical chanting.

 

ALBUM

Outside The Gate (1988)

Killing Joke photo 8

Which one is this?
The rubbish one.

This is the best Killing Joke album because …
This is not the best Killing Joke album.

One song to represent this album
No.

One Jaz Coleman face to represent this album

Killing Joke photo 9

Killing Joke fact
This was supposed to be a Jaz Coleman solo album but he spent so much money in the studio that the label insisted it be a Killing Joke record. Big Paul was ordered to come to the studio to lay down drum tracks but refused to listen to any of the keyboard parts that Jaz had recorded. Obviously the drums didn’t match up with the keyboards in any way. After being ordered to re-record his drum parts, Paul refused and left the country.

 

ALBUM

Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions (1990)

Killing Joke photo 10

Which one is this?
The “we’re back and we’re really cross about a lot of things” one.

This is the best Killing Joke album because …
They went away after releasing three albums that were progressively less noisy and less weird and returned with their noisiest and weirdest album yet.

One song to represent this album
MONEY IS NOT OUR GOD

One Jaz Coleman face to represent this album

Killing Joke photo 11

Killing Joke fact
The band set off on a world tour to promote the album with all copies of the record locked away in a German warehouse.

 

ALBUM

Pandemonium (1994)

Killing Joke photo 12

Which one is this?
The Egyptian industrial metal one.

This is the best Killing Joke album because …
Pandemonium gave us three live favourites that have appeared regularly in the band’s sets for twenty years. Pandemonium, Millennium and Communion are all industrial masterpieces. The combination of crushing guitars and Arabic melodies and instrumentation gives this album a unique and powerful sound and it’s also one of the band’s most consistent works, serving as an excellent starting point for newcomers.

One song to represent this album
MILLENNIUM

One Jaz Coleman face to represent this album

Killing Joke photo 13

Killing Joke fact
The band recorded parts of this album inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. After falling asleep inside, a sound engineer was awoken and chased out of the pyramid by the Eye of Horus.

 

ALBUM

Democracy (1996)

Killing Joke photo 14

Which one is this?
The one with acoustic guitars.

This is the best Killing Joke album because …
Democracy is quite often overlooked as it finds itself between two ferocious records in Pandemonium and the 2003 self-titled album. There are gems to be found however, particularly Medicine Wheel, Savage Freedom and the title track. A lighter, more positive Killing Joke and probably the closest they came to returning to the sound of the 80s pop ones.

One song to represent this album
DEMOCRACY

One Jaz Coleman face to represent this album

Killing Joke photo 15

Killing Joke fact
Jaz was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight about the controversy surrounding the singing of the New Zealand national anthem in Māori at the 1999 rugby World Cup. The interview ended with Jaz waving a CD in front of Paxman’s face.

 

ALBUM

Killing Joke (2003)

Killing Joke photo 16

Which one is this?
The one with Dave Grohl.

This is the best Killing Joke album because …
It gave us Asteroid, so when we’re at a Killing Joke concert we can all shout “ASTEROOOOOOOIIIIID!” and then smash into each other.

One song to represent this album
ASTEROID

One Jaz Coleman face to represent this album

Killing Joke photo 17

Killing Joke fact
Nirvana totally stole the riff from Eighties for Come As You Are. Some believe that recording the drums for this album is Dave Grohl’s way of making amends.

 

ALBUM

Hosannas From The Basements Of Hell (2006)

Killing Joke photo 18

Which one is this?
The one where they all lost their minds in Prague.

This is the best Killing Joke album because …
Look at the album cover and then look at the picture of Jaz below, that’s what this album sounds like. It splits opinion among fans but you will not find a heavier, more intense Killing Joke album. The title track and Invocation are both essential Killing Joke, the latter featuring a full orchestra conducted by Jaz.

One song to represent this album
HOSANNAS FROM THE BASEMENTS OF HELL

One Jaz Coleman face to represent this album

Killing Joke photo 19

Killing Joke fact
Geordie describes the method of achieving his signature guitar sound as “not unlike fucking cooking”.

 

ALBUMS

Absolute Dissent (2010) / MMXII (2012) / Pylon (2015)

Killing Joke photo 20

Which ones are these?
The “let’s get the original line-up back together and make three really heavy albums that very effectively incorporate the variety of styles explored during our long history” ones.

These are the best Killing Joke albums because…
These three albums, described by the band themselves as an apocalyptic tryptic, showcase Killing Joke as that rare beast, a band that gets heavier and angrier with age. Drawing on their 37 years of existence these albums combine the menace and claustrophobia of the first three classic ones, the invention of the one that sounds like Adam Ant, the melodies and emotion of the 80s pop ones and the one with acoustic guitars, the rage of the “we’re back and we’re really cross about a lot of things” one and the heavy industrial sounds of the Egyptian industrial metal one, the one with Dave Grohl and the one where they all lost their minds in Prague.

The latest album, Pylon was released on 23rd October 2015 on Spinefarm Records.

One song to represent this era
POLE SHIFT from MMXII

One Jaz Coleman face to represent this era

Killing Joke photo 21

Killing Joke fact
Jaz Coleman is a Grammy award winning classical music composer and bassist Martin “Youth” Glover has produced some rather large records including The Verve’s Urban Hymns and P.M. Dawn’s Set Adrift On Memory Bliss.

The bonus track
Because we didn’t pick a track from the rubbish one there’s room for a bonus track so here’s that Top Of The Pops performance of Empire Song from Revelations (the first 3 classic ones era) with the guy in the bee keeping suit.

 

Killing Joke Official Facebook

Killing Joke Store

Martin “Youth” Glover facebook

Paul Raven (1961–2007)

Killing Joke biography (iTunes)

By day Geoff Owen can be found on the internet, shouting about metal and hip hop. By night he can be found at gigs in Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and London, often alone so go and say hi if you see him. Geoff’s first single was Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil and his writing has left a trail of defunct websites in its wake. RIP Choose My Music and Demon Pigeon, watch out Toppermost.

TopperPost #487

1 Comment

  1. Simon Jones
    Nov 4, 2015

    Killing Joke – I genuinely never realised they had released so many albums – a big playlist build coming up to go through a lot of this!! Cheers Geoff 🙂

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