(On The Primitives and Killing Joke)
The year 2012 is proving to be really bountiful for enthusiasts of New Wave / Postpunk music. Many classic pioneers of the genre have been reuniting not only to perform concerts but also to release new materials. So far, bands that have returned with new albums include The Primitives, Ultravox, the Killing Joke, Translator, Public Image Ltd., Men Without Hats, and The Cult.
Back in the mid-’80s, the time I was discovering the kind of music that eventually became known as New Wave and Postpunk, the song “Love like Blood” was one of the first anthems that defined my recollection of that era. The eerily-sounding guitar and synth and the pounding bassline and drumbeat in the intro of the song were enough to send me to a musical high—nostalgia aside.
Only in the days of the Internet when I realized that the album containing “Love like Blood” and “Eighties”—two of my favorite Killing Joke songs—was actually the fifth already.
Formed in London, England, in 1978, Killing Joke faded into oblivion as the 1990s loomed simply because they fell off the commercial radar when new and interesting bands dominated the mid-’90s, despite their prolificity in releasing albums. However, ironically, it was also the arrival of a band that would define the Alternative Rock music of the 1990s that would place Killing Joke back into the limelight: In 1992 the American Grunge band Nirvana released the song “Come as You Are”—the opening riff of which was a deadringer of Killing Joke’s “Eighties”—and it catapulted both bands to further popularity. And so, Killing Joke was somehow revitalized, regrouping and releasing a string of new albums in the years that followed. In 2012, one of the most prolific bands in the Postpunk genre released their 15th album, MMXII. The first single off this, “In Cythera,” is enough to claim that Killing Joke’s New Wave sound is ready to shine brightly again like a thousand suns. Killing Joke has 15 full-length studio albums to its credit: Killing Joke (1980), What’s THIS For…! (1981), Revelations (1982), Fire Dances (1983), Night Time (1985), Brighter than a Thousand Suns (1986), Outside the Gate (1988), The Courtauld Talks (1989), Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions (1990), Pandemonium (1994), Democracy (1996), Killing Joke (2003), Hosannas from the Basements of Hell (2006), Absolute Dissent (2010), and MMXII (2012). Killing Joke is comprised by Jeremy “Jaz” Coleman (vocals, synthesizer), Kevin “Geordie” Walker (guitar), Martin “Youth” Glover (bass), and Paul Ferguson (drums, vocals).
Currently comprised by Paul Court (guitars, vocals), Tracy Cattell (vocals, tambourine), Tig Williams (drums), and Raph Moore (bass), The Primitives formed in Coventry, England, in 1985. Their most widely popular song is “Crash,” from the debut album and which was included on the original soundtrack of the 1994 film Dumb and Dumber, starring Jim Carrey. The music of the band is best defined by the cutesy vocals, jangly and mildly fuzzy guitars, and simple basslines and drumbeats—typical characteristics of Indie Pop music. The Primitives released their first album, Lovely, in 1988; followed this up with Pure (1989) and Galore (1991); and then they broke up in 1992. The Primitives re-formed in 2009 to perform various reunion concerts, and in 2012 they finally released their new materials: the EP Never Kill a Secret (March 2012), which contains four songs: the originals “Rattle My Cage” and “Never Kill a Secret” plus the covers “Need All the Help I Can Get” (Lee Hazlewood / Suzi Jane Hokum, 1966) and “Breakaway” (Toni Basil, 1966); and the fourth full-length album, Echoes and Rhymes (April 2012), which consists entirely of covers of obscure ’60s-released female-sung songs like “Sunshine on My Rainy Day” by Polly Niles, “Move It On Over” by LeGrand Mellon, “Single Girl” by Sandy Posey, and “Turn Off the Moon” by Sue Lyon.
In the next issue, we will feature the return of two classic New Wave / Synthpop bands—the British Ultravox and the Canadian Men Without Hats.