Killing Joke

Chaos for Breakfast

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

The most attractive thing about Chaos for Breakfast is that it contains Killing Joke's first four singles, all of which are housed in reproductions -- inserts and all -- of the original vinyl releases. Secondary but no less luring for the collectors: an album's worth of demos and outtakes, a fold-out sleeve with liner notes from journalist Neil Perry, and a wallet holding 30 black-and-white photos, all put together by Malicious Damage's Mike Coles. The band's early singles, originally released between 1979 and 1981, make for some of the heaviest, meanest post-punk, regardless of approach. When most people think of Killing Joke, they tend to be reminded of lumbering riffs and bellowing vocals, but the band could also resemble a relatively straight-laced PiL or Ruts (the spare, dubby "Turn to Red"), an art-damaged prog band with a hard edge (the charging "Are You Receiving"), or something else entirely ("Turn to Red"'s oddball brother "Almost Red"). Other highlights -- "Pssyche," "Wardance," "Requiem," "Change," "Follow the Leaders" -- are wicked combinations of brute force and intellect, often spiked with the kind of electronics that few other song-oriented post-punk bands (Associates, Joy Division, Simple Minds) incorporated. The demos contained here are more like alternate takes, often sounding much like their final versions. Outtake "Killer Dub" is of some note, mostly due to its extreme length (just short of 20 minutes). Though the outer shell of the package is an explosion of bright colors and a font possibly called "goofy jester," the sleeves of the "Wardance" and "Nervous System" singles are as emblematic of the post-punk era as the cover of Unknown Pleasures and Howard Devoto's frigid gaze, bathed in deep reds. If nothing else, Chaos for Breakfast is a commendable release for reuniting the songs with the striking images they were originally attached to.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:45
2 4:57
blue highlight denotes track pick