I first saw Killing Joke in 1990, in Chicago. I was on tour with The Wonder Stuff and we were to begin our jaunt around the States at The Cabaret Metro, up on North Clark Street near Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs and as featured in the Blues Brothers) on 30th September. We were in town on the 29th and Killing Joke were playing at the same venue that night. So we all trooped off to see the show. I don’t recall much about the gig other than at one point fake Dollar bills rained down on us from the ceiling. We found out later they were filming the video for the single “Money Is Not Our God”. Turns out it was quite a marker in my gig going history as Killing Joke are one of only 3 acts (other than bands I’ve worked for which don’t really count) that I have seen live as many times or more than The Jam! The others being Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band and Rammstein !!
I’d known about Killing Joke since the early ‘80’s. Their single “Follow The Leader” was a big tune in the Post-Punk/Futurist clubs me and Deb were wont to hand out in. Then in 1985 EG Records cleaned them up, dressed them up, had some soft focus promo shots taken, made some shiny videos and managed to get a bona fide hit single outta them, “Love Like Blood” reaching #16 in the UK charts and I’m sure I remember seeing them on Top Of The Pops, incredible. It’s a fabulous single built for the dancefloor at the time but retaining one of Geordie Walker’s monster riffs. Can we just take a moment to appreciate Geordie Walker. The man drives Killing Joke with those behemoth riffs, in much the same way Tony Iommi did for Black Sabbath, and no-one else sounds anything like him. He is also, when playing live, swaying around wielding his signature gold top 1952 Gibson ES-295 the very definition of the phrase “cool as fuck”.
Talking of riffs one other on here is known to many of us in one form or another. I always had in mind that “Eighties” was as big a hit as “Love Like Blood” but on looking up the numbers it appears it only reached #60. It must have made an impression over in Seattle however as sometime later on Nirvana lifted “Eighties” signature guitar motif and retitled it “Come As You Are”…chancers.
There was another single released from from “Night Time”, the very, very wonderful “Kings And Queens”, not as well known as the other two but it actually reached a higher chart position than the better known “Eighties”, #58. It’s built on another huge, stuttering Geordie Walker riff and you should take it in by clicking the link below.
“Night Time” was a very cleanly produced record (by Rolling Stones producer Chris Kimsey), very obviously aimed at getting the band a higher profile, and it worked, it gave Killing Joke a brief moment in the “pop star” sunshine. The essence of Killing Joke is very much still here it’s just been given a wax and polish and a shampoo and set to clean it up for a more genteel audience. Have no fear, they soon returned to their extremities, dirt and other repressed emotions as we will discover.
Kings And Queens - https://youtu.be/ruWPc_9AqPM?si=M7nxeKxiKiGrAZeA