Thursday, August 25, 2011

Killing Joke - Ha

"Ha" (1982) **1/2

This is a brief mini-LP so I'll keep this brief:  the original incarnation offered six songs - one each from their first three albums + three non-LP songs.  "Pssyche," is beyond essential, so if you haven't downloaded the original single version....wait, wait - this isn't 1982 anymore, so I guess you don't really need this.  Vinyl/cassette era Joke fans had to take what they could grub up, so if they couldn't get their claws on the original "7 of "Pssyche," then this live version would have to make do.  And it does make do!  Almost as awesome as the studio version.  For such a technological band, KJ aren't noticably different in a live as opposed to studio setting, because their songs are more about raw, rhythmic drive and crushing guitar power than anything else.  The lyrics to "Pssyche," are well worth quoting, hysterical in both senses:

Look at the controller
A Nazi with a social degree
A middle-class hero
A rapist with your eyes on me
Increase your masturbation, three cheers for the nuns you fuck
You'd wipe out spastics if you had the chance,but Jesus wouldn't like it

WTF is Jaz going on about?!  That was originally the B-side of "Wardance," which you get here shorn of its somewhat silly R2D2 vocal effect.  I suppose I was incorrect about Revelations being weak mostly due to the production, as "The Pandys Are Coming," still sucks in its much raw powerer live version, and "Unspeakable," might not be the ideal selection from wTf! but who can tell any of those "tunes" apart, anyways.  Of the remaining two live tracks, "Sun Goes Down," was an unexceptional but not-bad B-side, and "Take Take Take," was an outtake for good reason - it's a slow-slow grind devoid of much interest other than the fact that it's considerably slower and grindier than most other Joketunes.  Oh, but that's not all:  reissues append three bonus studio tracks.  The original studio B-side of "Sun Goes Down," still isn't that memorable, but you do get "Birds of a Feather," which sounds like XTC, of all things.  Well, not exactly, more of Killing Joke accidentally imitating XTC and getting it all horribly, horribly wrong, but in a good way.  "Flock," is just some dubby version of the same, but not without the merit of a good listen.  Once.  Or maybe twice.  

P.S.  The most disappointing aspect of this release is that Killing Joke, sadly, do not live up to their name.  There is no - absolutely nada - stage banter.  Jaz Coleman can obviously be a very funny guy, as the lyrical snippet of "Pssyche," testifies, so where's Having Fun With The Killing Jokesters Onstage?   

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