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Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Virgin Catalogue

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Marking the full return from the band's out-of-nowhere hiatus in 1982, Night Time, following after a couple of test-the-waters EPs, finds the reconstituted Killing Joke, with Paul Raven in on bass but otherwise unchanged, caught between their earlier aggression and a calmer, more immediately accessible approach. This turned out to be the band's Achilles heel in the end, with later albums in the '80s evidence that the group had turned into an unbelievably boring, generic modern rock band. At this point, however, the tension between the two sides had a perfect balance, and as a result Night Time is arguably the quartet's freshest album since its debut, with a warm, anthemic quality now supplementing the blasting, driving approach that made the band's name, as songs like "Kings and Queens" demonstrate. Geordie Walker pulls off some jaw-dropping solos amid his fierce riffs -- check out his turns on the title track -- while Paul Ferguson mixes and matches electronic beats with his own very well (perhaps a little less intensely than before, but not by much). Jaz Coleman's experimentation with keyboards -- chopped-up vocal samples, calmer and sweet lead melodies -- is paralleled by his own singing, now mostly free of the treatments and echoes familiar from earlier days. He's got a great singing voice as it stands, and it's a treat to hear him let it flow forth without forcing it. "Eighties" turned out to be the retrospectively most well-known song, due to a surprising and not always remembered example of Killing Joke's influence -- Nirvana, of all groups, thoroughly cloned the watery guitar line at the heart of the track for "Come as You Are." "Love Like Blood" was the breakthrough single in the U.K., although -- and for good reason -- it managed the bizarre trick of slotting alongside Duran Duran for mainstream radio airplay while still sounding like nobody other than Killing Joke. A pity the group then spent some years doing pallid clones of the song. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Virgin Catalogue

Since 1980, there have been a hundred bands who sound like this; but before Steve Albini and Al Jourgensen made it hip, the cold metallic throb of Killing Joke was exciting and fresh. The harshly sung vocals riding over the pulsating synth lines of the opener "Requiem" have a vigor and passion that few imitators have managed to match. The precise riffs and tight rhythms found in songs like "Wardance" would influence a generation of hardcore musicians; yet "The Wait," with its thrashing guitars and angry vocals, would find itself covered on a Metallica album only six years later. That such a bleak and furious album could have such a widespread influence is a testament to its importance. Certain parts of the album have not dated well; the vocals and drums are mixed in such a way that they lose some of their effectiveness, and the fact that so many other bands have used this same formula does take some of the visceral feeling away. But this is an underground classic and deserves better than its relative unknown status. Fans of most kinds of heavy music will probably find something they like about this band, and this is a good a place as any to start the collection. © Bradley Torreano /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Spinefarm Records UK

Post-punk, apocalyptic, able to serve up some biting social commentary, and all while doing it so thunderously they seem on the very edge of heavy metal, veteran U.K. band Killing Joke get the simple chronological overview on The Singles Collection: 1979-2012, a set that does just what it says on the tin. The 1980 single "Change" is missing, but otherwise, their prime 7"s are knocked off in order with giant numbers like "Eighties," "Wardance," "Requiem," and "Love Like Blood" coming off as classic and essential. All of these greats land on the first disc, which covers the golden years of 1979-1988, but disc two's covering of 1990-2012 is quite helpful for the casual fan, who can now catch up with some prime material that was released as the band flew underneath the mainstream's radar. That said, disc two does some revisionist history with non-singles like "Ghosts of Ladbroke Grove" landing on the track list, and when it comes to the physical release, the booklet is an afterthought, filled with tiny pictures of the 7" releases and some quick, kind essays. Killing Joke have always been more of an "album band" anyway and their large, rich discography calls for overviews much bigger in size than this. Still, it is interesting to look at the epic, ambitious group by their attempts to cross over, and while not all singles were as worthy as the album cuts, this alternative view has some massive high points. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 23, 2015 | Spinefarm Records UK

Killing Joke's membership has gone through some periods of volatility since they emerged in the late '70s, but the reunion of the group's first lineup -- Jaz Coleman on vocals, Geordie Walker on guitar, Youth on bass, and Paul Ferguson on drums -- had proved to be more stable and prolific than many would have predicted, and 2015's Pylon, the third studio album since the original foursome returned to duty in 2008, shows the veterans are still sounding impressively muscular and acerbic as they close in on their 40th anniversary. Opening with the thunderous bass and drums (and abrasive guitars and electronics) of "Autonomous Zone," Pylon finds Killing Joke still ranting about the sorry state of our culture as they make with a massive sonic assault that would be a dandy soundtrack for the collapse of the civilization of your choice. While Coleman's vocals are generally low in the mix, what creeps through shows his powerful bellow is in fine shape, and the bursts of recognizable thought that make it through suggest he's still reading his daily newspaper and has no more hope for the world than he ever has. (A sticker on the cover of the CD edition reminds us, "Sometimes music makes the world seem a better, brighter place...But this is Killing Joke. So f--k that.") Walker's guitar eloquently chimes and growls on command, while Youth and Ferguson are still a strong, unrelenting rhythm section, and the keyboards and electronic treatments add to the menace and carefully choreographed chaos that have always been part of this band's personality. Pylon doesn't sound terribly innovative within the band's body of work, but the album's widescreen sound and bone-fracturing impact leave no doubt that Killing Joke are still deeply committed to what they do, and it's genuinely remarkable that they're still sounding this furious and effective 35 years after their debut album. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Metal - Released August 2, 1994 | Spin-Farm Oy

After the band's lengthiest hiatus since it was founded, Killing Joke returned in 1994 with a new/old lineup and an interesting enough new album. Raven, the group's bassist since the Night Time days, was replaced by original bassist Youth, who produced the album and released it on his label. Compared to the newfound intensity of Extremities, Pandemonium partially steps away from the neo-industrial/thrash of that effort for a more varied, often quite surprising experience. With no one drummer replacing Atkins, the threesome works with a number of performers, Coleman in particular bringing in some of the Egyptian musicians whom he has worked with on a variety of projects, including his collaborative work with Anne Dudley. Noted percussionist Hossam Ramzy takes a key role, replacing the frenetic fire of Ferguson's work with a subtler, more textured approach, while Aboud Abdel's violin further gives Pandemonium a haunting edge, aiming to some extent at recreating the epic, mysterious stomp of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" for a newer day. Elsewhere, the straight-ahead rampage of "Exorcism" and "Whiteout" show that Killing Joke hasn't forgotten the power of sheer intensity, and if Ferguson's sheer power and inventiveness is missed the most here, the results are still a thrilling, fierce listen. The core Coleman/Geordie partnership remains strong, the latter at points holding back on his more scalpel-sharp approach for a thicker, overdubbed flow, sometimes -- as on "Jana" -- finding a friendly, open style that revisits the radio-friendly AOR days of the band without actually sucking. In turn, Coleman slides between his declamatory persona and the closer, more controlled style of later efforts; the combination -- as on the striking, massive wallop of "Communion" -- can be incredible, the contrast between the verses and searing choruses proving captivating. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1992 | EG Records

Not the best compilation that could be assembled -- anything missing "The Wait," for one thing, can't be seen as truly definitive -- Laugh? is still a reasonable overview of the first decade of Killing Joke and its checkered but still important history. Very wisely, the emphasis is given to the band's artistic rather than commercial highlights -- only one song from Brighter Than a Thousand Suns turns up, namely the quixotic choice of an alternate mix of "Wintergardens," while nothing from Outside the Gate appears at all. Instead, the vast majority of the disc consists of selections from the first three albums plus a variety of rarities, the better to tempt the hardcore fan with most everything already. The choice of the overtly dub-influenced "Turn to Red" from the debut single was an inspired one, throwing a light on that part of Killing Joke's origins and how the group transformed it into already fiendishly nervous, intense rock. Other relative obscurities include the strong live take of "Pssyche" from Ha! and "Sun Goes Down" from Birds of a Feather. This latter track features some of Ferguson's best drumming -- one can practically feel his sticks hit the drumheads full-on -- while Coleman's singing and Geordie's guitar create one of the most mournful, melancholy numbers in the band's repertoire. The remainder of the tracks are unchanged album selections, most understandable ones, including "Requiem" and "Wardance" from the self-titled album, "Follow the Leaders" and "Unspeakable" from What's THIS For..., and "Empire Song" and "Chop-Chop" from Revelations. Adding the likes of "Eighties" and "Love Like Blood" acknowledges the group's later smoothness in the '80s without serving up embarrassing reminders of same, a wise move. The bitterly funny cover art -- the notorious Catholic cardinal saluting the Nazis' image, altered to include financial symbols -- is a crowning touch. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Virgin Catalogue

If not quite as remarkable as the band's gripping self-titled debut, What's THIS For...! showed that Killing Joke could maintain their frenetic, doom-wracked intensity while experimenting with their already strongly established style. Jaz Coleman's vocals go through even more treatments and tweaks than before, chorus shout-alongs swathed in deep echoes, hidden behind Geordie Walker's punishing riffs and the steroid-driven rhythm section. Big Paul Ferguson in particular lays down some absolutely skull-crushing drum slams and Youth is no less intense at most parts, and often they rather than Coleman or Geordie dictate the song, as the lengthy death-groove of "Madness" makes perfectly clear. Elsewhere Geordie shows a calmer (comparatively) side, soloing on songs like "Butcher" making common cause with the guitar work of Bernard Sumner in Joy Division days -- indeed, the song as a whole could almost be a tribute to that band, and one of the better ones at that. The playing around with supposed genre boundaries doesn't hurt either -- the beatbox/synth loop pulse of "Follow the Leaders," crossed with the more brusque blasts from the core band, suggests its eventual path in later years, while "Tension" lets the slithering funk heart of the band burst forth even more strongly. (The drums and opening riffs themselves almost sound like a parody of the Knack's "My Sharona.") "Unspeakable" is arguably the hidden highlight of the album, Coleman's heavily flanged, distorted singing sliding down a slowly descending chord pattern that suggests an early glam band gone martial and paranoid, Ferguson all over his set like four people at once. The debts of later bands toward Killing Joke are even clearer than ever, whether it's the fact a group named themselves after the opening track, "The Fall of Because," or that late-'80s Ministry so effectively cloned the whole style on songs like "Burning Inside." © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Virgin Catalogue

The chief criticism many Killing Joke fans level at Revelations is that it is underproduced. When compared with later albums such as Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions and Pandemonium, Revelations does seem to lack some sonic kick, but only for listeners not digging deep enough into the dusty labyrinth herein. Criticism of the production ignores the reality that the album is a joyous, original world unto itself. Sounding as if it was recorded in some mad, dub chamber, Revelations reveals many artsy, staccato pleasures. "Dregs," "Land of Milk and Honey," and "The Pandys Are Coming" blend stream-of-consciousness lyrics with blaring, distorted guitars and punchy drumming. Jaz Coleman has never sounded more confused and happy. This translates to the listener in the form of dark, fun soundscapes. The album is not about the accessible, synth-heavy charms of Firedances, a later album, or the political murkiness of What's THIS For...!, an earlier release. Revelations is similar, in a sense, to Brighter Than a Thousand Suns and Outside the Gate, in that all three albums suggest less aggressive, more experimental facets of the band. Unlike the grasps at emotion on Brighter and Outside, Revelations trudges a noisy and unfocused (to the point of brilliance) middle ground between the band's electronic and guitar leanings. "Dregs," in particular, is indicative of the state of the band at the time; Coleman simply blurts out whatever comes to his mind as the rest of the band creates militant, swarming background squalls. It's the sound of industrial music being created before your very ears. Nine Inch Nails and Ministry would later mine the sound for everything it was worth. Repeat listens of Revelations reveal it to be a most enjoyable departure for one of the greatest, most underappreciated post-punk bands of the '80s. Revelations sees Killing Joke mangling and discarding the rules of modern rock music with demented, inspired genius. © Tim DiGravina /TiVo
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Metal - Released January 1, 2012 | Spin-Farm Oy

MMXII is the fifteenth album from Killing Joke, following 2010’s Absolute Dissent, which saw the original line-up reunite after the death of bassist Paul Raven in 2007. Loosely based on the Mayan prophecy that the world will end in December 2012, the album sees the band continue with their trademark mix of industrial metal and punk, proving that even after 35 years, Killing Joke are as relevant today as they were back in the 1980s. © TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Spinefarm Records UK

Post-punk, apocalyptic, able to serve up some biting social commentary, and all while doing it so thunderously they seem on the very edge of heavy metal, veteran U.K. band Killing Joke get the simple chronological overview on The Singles Collection: 1979-2012, a set that does just what it says on the tin. The 1980 single "Change" is missing, but otherwise, their prime 7"s are knocked off in order with giant numbers like "Eighties," "Wardance," "Requiem," and "Love Like Blood" coming off as classic and essential. All of these greats land on the first disc, which covers the golden years of 1979-1988, but disc two's covering of 1990-2012 is quite helpful for the casual fan, who can now catch up with some prime material that was released as the band flew underneath the mainstream's radar. That said, disc two does some revisionist history with non-singles like "Ghosts of Ladbroke Grove" landing on the track list, and when it comes to the physical release, the booklet is an afterthought, filled with tiny pictures of the 7" releases and some quick, kind essays. Killing Joke have always been more of an "album band" anyway and their large, rich discography calls for overviews much bigger in size than this. Still, it is interesting to look at the epic, ambitious group by their attempts to cross over, and while not all singles were as worthy as the album cuts, this alternative view has some massive high points. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Virgin Catalogue

A dream release for the Killing Joke faithful, this 2008 compilation collects the first four sessions the band did for the legendary BBC Radio DJ John Peel plus a bonus session recorded for Richard Skinner's program. The years covered are 1979 to 1981, so this isn't the usual career-spanning Peel comp, but it does follow the band as they evolve from a tribal post-punk unit that could have been signed to the esoteric Factory to an apocalyptic metal group that often landed in the pages of metal mag Kerrang!. Raw versions of the big, important numbers from the time -- "Wardance," "Complication," "The Fall of Because," and "Tension" -- are all here to illustrate the change. These under-produced alternatives either equal or better their official album counterparts but what's revelatory are the rare numbers like "Malicious Boogie" where the band play cowbell-driven, no wave funk as if they were Medium Medium or Liquid Liquid. Liner notes from Alex Paterson, who was a Killing Joke roadie before he was the Orb, speak to these experimental years with stories of guitarist Geordie's Wall of Sound and bassist Youth playing the "Rapper's Delight" 12" repeatedly. While it's a sliver of the longstanding band's history, anyone with a taste for their early years will be thrilled by this thorough, well-presented set. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 14, 2021 | Killing Joke Records - Cadiz Entertainment Ltd

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Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Virgin Catalogue

The end of the '80s wreaked havoc on all too many bands that started off strongly and, while Killing Joke hadn't quite reached its nadir (that would happen with the appalling Outside the Gate), Brighter Than a Thousand Suns was a definite transformation from the days of "The Wait" and "Complications." The unexpected success of Night Time and new commercial pressures clearly came to bear -- Chris Kimsey's production, effective on that earlier album, here combined with Julian Mendelsohn's mixing to result in too often blanded-out album rock throwaways, perfect for blasting on highways and little else. Still, the band hadn't changed any from Night Time, and even that lineup was three-quarters of the original incarnation of the group. The emphasis still focused clearly on volume and strong, full-bodied playing -- Geordie Walker, Paul Ferguson, and Paul Raven don't sound like they're holding back at all even if their individual performances are less on the edge. Jaz Coleman's newfound way around inspiring singing, meanwhile, pays off in dividends; though it's impossible to square the results here with his earlier hectoring and cutting rage, the warm, sweet passion that he brings to bear often transforms an OK track into a great one. "Adorations," the killer opening track and easily the album standout, is a perfect example of how this era of the group could make it all connect, Coleman's beautiful performance on the chorus and the overall ensemble effort making it the best anthem neither U2 nor Simple Minds ever wrote. But the stiff, mechanical beats on the immediately following "Sanity" -- a ridiculous substitution of Ferguson's undisputed abilities -- sets the tone for the remainder of Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, an effort ultimately dialed in rather than performed. The sound-alike quality of nearly all the songs -- especially ironic considering the accomplished genre-hopping on the earliest records -- renders Killing Joke its own unfortunate parody in the end. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Virgin Catalogue

After stalling a bit with their 1982 album Revelations, Killing Joke nearly split up, with lead singer Jaz Coleman disappearing to Iceland in order to "survive the apocalypse." By the time Coleman returned to the band, bassist Youth was gone and replaced by Paul Raven, a perfect fit who would stay on board as the band found its way up the charts over the next few releases. As a reaction to all these comings and goings, this is a decidedly tribal album that opens with a track called "The Gathering," follows it with the "join the mob" anthem "Fun & Games," and features words like "we" and "us" throughout the album. The ultimate communal moment, "Let's All Go (To the Fire Dances)," is also the key track, with guitarist Geordie Walker bouncing between crunching barre chords and a Duane Eddy-on-steroids riff while Raven and drummer Paul Ferguson throb like a veteran rhythm section. Even if Coleman's lyrics are filled with venom as always, he's rounding up allies to fight the system here and considering the idea of connecting with his audience rather than just confronting them. Fire Dances bridges Killing Joke's primal past with their more melodic, accessible future and without compromising any of their thunder. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 17, 2015 | Cooking Vinyl

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Rock - Released January 1, 1995 | Parlophone Catalogue

Essentially an assemblage of 12" mixes and B-sides, Wilful Days certainly isn't the first place to go for Killing Joke, but it's not a half-bad introduction. Its range from 1979 to 1992 material might not make for the most cohesive set of KJ tracks, but it will give the newbie an idea of where to start, depending on their taste. The "Serious Dance Mix" of "Eighties" (featuring the Geordie Walker guitar line that Kurt Cobain more or less lifted for "Come as You Are") lasts a rather torturous eight minutes, and the extended version of weaker material like "America" tests the attention span as well. The "Gestalt Mix" of "Love Like Blood" successfully adds a couple minutes of rhythmic interplay to one of the band's most darkly affecting songs off the improperly slagged Night Time. Other notables include the charging "Are You Receiving" and a dub mix of "Follow the Leaders." © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Metal - Released March 11, 1996 | Spin-Farm Oy

Killing Joke's best album in 11 years is a major surprise. While the other two LPs since their comeback (after a brief breakup in 1988) refocused the group on heavy guitars and contained several great songs, this time they put it all together. For good measure, they throw out the minor, pesky metal-isms that lurked throughout 1994's Pandemonium. Instead, Democracy returns them to the assault and battery of their seminal, self-titled 1980 debut (and, like that classic, Killing Joke effectively play with tribal rhythms here, on the incessant "Intellect" and the hypnotic "Aeon"), only filtered through the bigger, larger, exalted guitar reverberation of their last truly incredible LP, 1985's Nighttime. Credit returned original bassist Youth (now a noted producer) for the dark, immense, bonfire sound of this monster. The choruses of "Democracy" and "Prozac People" storm, led by Jaz Coleman's maniacal, red-throated doomsday voice, and Geordie's apocalyptic chords. "Pilgrimage" duck-steps brilliantly with real swing. And best of all, the closing "Another Bloody Election" is a brutal, barbarous, bloodthirsty shellacking, the hardest, most vicious, ghastly onslaught they've ever perpetrated (and that's saying plenty), as Coleman fumes over the futility of the pathetic political process with an acute mixture of unchecked, furious ire and helplessness. It's just the final hammer blow of primal urgency from an 18-year-old band that has completely refound their singular thunder (the kind Nirvana filched for "Come as You Are," as per the settled lawsuit) on this, their tenth album. © Jack Rabid /TiVo
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Ha!

Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Virgin Catalogue

Though barely six songs and 26-minutes long, Ha! Killing Joke Live packs more ferocity and impact than most live recordings twice as long. Killing Joke was still in its punk-derived infancy when this was recorded in 1982, and the intensity of Jaz Coleman's vocals and Geordie Walker's guitar is brutal. What's more, the track selection serves as a nice primer to Killing Joke's early years. The previously unreleased "Take Take Take" is impressive enough, but the fearsome versions of classics such as "Pssyche" and "Wardance" are corrosive. The sound is surprisingly clear, too. Even upon its release, Ha! was not easy to find (and since it was deleted almost immediately, it became even less so) but listeners are urged to track down this superlative recording. © Victor W. Valdivia /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | Virgin Catalogue

Fans who thought Killing Joke had hit rock bottom with Brighter Than a Thousand Suns were proven wrong by the follow-up effort. To be fair, Outside the Gate was never meant to be a Killing Joke album, at least not by the band. It was a solo album by lead singer Jaz Coleman -- with KJ guitarist Geordie Walker helping out -- until the record label muscled the band's name onto the cover in an attempt to make some money off this misguided experiment. Here Coleman tries to become a bona fide singer rather than just a vocalist, and turns his usual growl and shout into a croon. His delivery is iffy, undermining his grandiose lyrics which are further damaged by the horribly thin music. Pallid synths poorly imitate orchestras, the complex song structures are just tedious, Coleman acts as if he's Freddie Mercury and David Bowie mashed together, and none of the throb, thunder, or heavy riffage so important to the Killing Joke name is to be found. Put it this way: this is the Killing Joke album where castanets are heard and both bassist Paul Raven and drummer Big Paul Ferguson quit the band to avoid association with this misfire. If you're anything but a very forgiving completist, pass on this one. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Parlophone Catalogue

Apocalyptic alterno-rockers Killing Joke could stand an introductory compilation with a novice-friendly name since the title Laugh? I Nearly Bought One! doesn't cry out "a great Killing Joke primer." Laugh? And For Beginners should really swap names since the track selection here skips plenty of important numbers and doesn't give any clue how pop-tacular the grinding band could get. Without "Eighties," "Wardance," "Love Like Blood," or "Requiem," For Beginners is anything but. Even the great "The Fall of Because" is included in a less satisfying live version and the band's weak '86 -- ' 88 period, which is overrepresented with five tracks. Take off a couple redundant tracks and this would be a perfect CD2 for Laugh?. The songs here are good, B-list Killing Joke and the cover is great, but calling it For Beginners is misleading and just plain screwy. © David Jeffries /TiVo