Album Title
Killing Joke
Artist Icon Killing Joke (1980)
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First Released

Calendar Icon 1980


Genre Icon Experimental


Mood Icon Energetic


Style Icon Rock/Pop


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Speed Icon Medium

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Record Label Release

Speed Icon Spinefarm Records

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Album Description
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Killing Joke is the debut studio album by English post-punk band Killing Joke, released in October 1980 by E.G. via Polydor Records. It debuted at number 41 on the UK Albums Chart on 25 October 1980 and later peaked at number 39.

Singer and keyboardist Jaz Coleman met drummer Paul Ferguson in late 1978. In February 1979, they put an announcement in Melody Maker with the words: "Bass, lead, to tell the killing joke, we mean it man ! Total exploitation, no information, anonymity". They soon recruited guitarist Geordie Walker and then bassist Youth. After releasing a few singles, they recorded Killing Joke in August 1980 at Marquee Studios in London, shortly after a small tour promoting the Almost Red EP.

The album was self-produced by the band on purpose. They only wanted an engineer "who can put their technical knowledge into what we want, the way we want it. He's got to take us as we are". They recorded it live in the studio as "basic" as possible with "no overdubs to speak of"; Ferguson explained, "The mixing is where the difference is". Engineer Phil Harding reckons the recording of the album might have only taken two weeks. The album's lyrics were written by Coleman and Ferguson expressing their opinions on issues such as politics, death, hypocrisy, human nature, pollution and exile.

The artwork was based on a photograph by Don McCullin of young rioters trying to escape from clouds of CS gas released by the British Army in Derry, Northern Ireland, on 8 July 1971 during the Troubles. The original picture was taken a few months before the day now known as Bloody Sunday that took place in the same town in early 1972.

Killing Joke was released in October 1980 by E.G. Records, who were distributed at the time by Polydor Records. It entered the UK Albums Chart on 25 October 1980, and eventually reached number 39.

The album produced two singles: "Wardance" and "Requiem".

The 2005 and 2008 reissues of Killing Joke featured several bonus tracks, such as previously released B-sides and demo tracks. as it was in the original US release.

The album has been called "an underground classic" for fans of "heavy music". Dave Grohl has cited it as one of his favorite albums. "The Wait" was covered by Metallica on The $5.98 E.P. - Garage Days Re-Revisited EP in 1987 and was later featured on Garage Inc. "Primitive" was covered by Helmet in 1993 as the A-side to their "Primitive" single, and later added to their Born Annoying compilation album. "Requiem" was covered by Foo Fighters in 1997 as a B-side to the "Everlong" single. Japanese band The Mad Capsule Markets covered "Wardance" on their 2001 album "010". Scar the Martyr covered "Complications" as a bonus track on the Japanese and deluxe editions of their 2013 self-titled "Scar the Martyr" album.

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
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