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Bootleg Archive, Vol. 1
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CD, 20 avril 2007
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Enfin ! Trois des mythiques enregistrements live pirates des grands Killing Joke, jusqu'ici uniquement disponibles en vinyle, sont remasterisés et réunis sur un triple CD ! Ce premier volume contient les fameux « Live in London » (1981), « Live at the Venue » (1980), « Live at Odeon » (1981), et en bonus « Porchester Hall » (1988), ce dernier étant totalement inédit !
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The first show, "Live in London" was recorded in the summer of 1981 at the Lyceum, shortly after the release of the band's second record, "what's THIS for...!". Sonically, the show is a soundboard recording, meaning high fidelity, but either the source recording or the remaster is mixed way too hot, and there's an occasional (unintentional) distortion on Jaz Coleman's vocal-- this is infrequently noted, but when it is, it can drive you insane-- the chorus of "The Wait" for example. Still, it's a pretty hot performance, the band hits the ground running from opener "Wardance" and never really lets up on a runthrough of material from the first couple records. Of particular note are fierce takes of "Follow the Leaders" and "Bloodsport", not to mention a great take on "The Fall of Because" (Coleman sounds possessed during the chorus) and great, pre-industrial, danceable takes of "Pssyche" and "Turn to Red".
The second show in the set, "Live at the Venue", catches the band in February of 1980, fully six months prior to the release of their debut album, with only a few singles having been released-- the set is clearly heavy in these singles, and it ends up being a highly unusual mix with several favorites getting very early readings ("Pssyche" opens the set with more of a punk vibe than a dance one for example). It's not quite as powerful a performance as the Lyceum show, but the oddity of its setlist (including one completely unreleased track in "What's the Matter?", two tracks only released as BBC recordings in "Malicious Boogie" and "Nuclear Boy", and all sorts of early gems like "Turn to Red" and "Are You Receiving?"). Sonically, it's a really good well cleaned up audience recording-- the sound ends up being pretty well balanced and it's fairly clear, although it's definitely still an audience recording and ends up being a bit bassy and reverb heavy.
The third show captures the band a bit later, at the Bologna, Italy Odeon, in October of 1981, several months after the release of "what's THIS for...!", although the set is rather heavy on material from their-- seven (including "Change") of the eleven tracks coming from there, with the remainder from "what's THIS for...!" and an early version of "Revelations" standout "We Have Joy" (still a year from being recorded). This is clearly an audience recording and while the overall sound quality in terms of the band's sound and balance is superb, the audience is fairly loud, both singing along on occasion and with a general chatter throughout. It's really a shame because the band is hot-- they've lost some of the noticable looseness of the earlier two recordings but trade that for tight arrangements and a superb performance throughout, particularly an absolutely explosive take on "The Fall of Because". But again, it is the lowest fidelity of the recordings here and the sound is definitely lacking.
The last show on here is probably the most intriguing to longtime fans of the band, not so much for the performance but for who performs it-- recorded in December of 1988 at Porchester Hall in London, this show features the band that toured after "Outside the Gate"-- Raven and Big Paul Fergusen were gone, replaced by P.I.L. drummer/soon to be industrial legend Martin Atkins and bassist Dave "Taif" Bell. When the band entered the studio in a couple years to record fan favorite "Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions", Ball was replaced with Raven. As it stands, this show is the only documentation of this group. Their performance ends up being a nice mix of old and new-- two songs from their debut, one each from "Revelations" and "Fire Dances", three from "Night Time" and a pair of at the time unrecorded songs (that would end up on "Extremities..."). The performance itself is a blast-- Atkins admittedly lacks the tribal and dance sensibilities of Paul Fergeson behind the drum kit, but provides a fierce foundation for the music that the band really gets behind. Of particular notice is the material from "Night Time", which transforms from its new wave album sounds to an explosive industrial feel. The recording itself is a soundboard and without a doubt is the best sound of the album-- it completely lacks any of the mix problems on the Lyceum show and has a great clarity and balance, although the bass could be turned up a little, the somewhat trebly mix helps provide a very modern edge to the recording.
All in all, "Bootleg Vinyl Archives Volume 1" is a great set-- this isn't necessarily something that someone who's not obsessed with the band is going to want, the sound quality is a bit sketchy here and there, but it's well worth the investment for fans.