Saturday, July 13, 2013

Killing Joke - Fire Dances

Today (July 13th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Fire Dances, the fourth studio album from English post-punk band Killing Joke. This July of 1983 release charted at number 29 in the UK and marked a slight change in the musical direction for the group (Jaz Coleman on vocals and synthesizer, Kevin “Geordie“ Walker on guitar, Paul Ferguson on drums and vocals, and newcomer to the band Paul Raven on bass).

Side one begins with “The Gathering”. The lyrics are simple and straight-forward, done in a chanting style along with the tribal, driving drumbeats.

“Fun and Games” is like a powder-keg, full of tightly packed tension and ready to explode at just the right spark. The lyrics are like a prelude to an outbreak of a new revolution.

“Rejuvenation” continues with that theme of uniting as a horde and making change by force.

I like the echoing sounds produced from the guitars on “Frenzy”, a controlled chaotic cacophony.

“Harlequin” tries to lighten up the mood a bit with a song about a playful clown. But beware - this clown has a dark side hidden beneath that make-up and painted smile. This one definitely is my favorite of the first half of the record.

Side two opens with “Feast of Blaze”, a celebration fueled by drink and desire.

“Song and Dance”, to me, is about the inspirational muse that leads to creative results such as music.

“Dominator” shoves its way in with crisper guitars that have a funkier twinge to them. For that alone, this one instantly became a favorite track from the second half.

“Let’s All Go (to the Fire Dances)”, released as the album’s sole single, charted at number 51 in the UK. This one is pretty solid for me too, thanks to a pounding, danceable beat and celebratory, party-until-the-end attitude. It made sense to release this one as a single because it is the one that most likely fit in well with the other popular alternative music at the time.

“Lust Almighty” closes out the record with a song about sex. I like how it contrasts the theme with the carefree “la-la-la hey” that ends each line.

Killing Joke was not a band that was part of my musical spheres back in 1983. I was definitely too geeky and goody-goody for their punk roots or the darker themes found here on Fire Dances. Doing this review, I found it to be an intriguing listen though as the whole album presents a very tight, cohesive musical message of a world on the edge of revolution. I can definitely see a few of these tracks making it into my musical library at some point.

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