Back to the '90s: Killing Joke and 'Extremities,' courtroom-drama style


Low buzz in the courtroom as judge bangs gavel

JUDGE: Order in the court! Prosecution may proceed.

PROSECUTOR: Your honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, it is my intent to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the defendant, known to the public as Killing Joke is guilty of dangerously influencing the course of popular music.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Objection, your honor. Most people have probably never heard of my clients. Indeed, they have never released an album or single on a major label. How can they possibly be as influential as the prosecution claims?

JUDGE: Objection overruled. Defense is out of order. Let the prosecutor state her case.

PROSECUTOR: Thank you your honor.  If it pleases the court I wish to call Krist Novoselic of Nirvana as a witness.

(Novoselic swears in)

PROSECUTOR: Mr. Novoselic, is it not true that the bass line for Nirvana’s “Come as You Are” was essentially cribbed from the Killing Joke song “Eighties,” released some seven years before “Nevermind”?

NOVOSELIC: Well, it’s a slower song and it’s not exactly the same riff …

PROSECUTOR: Please just answer the question, Mr. Novoselic.

NOVOSELIC: Um … yeah … I guess you could say that.  But I think Dave Grohl made up for that by playing drums for them on their self-titled album in 2003 …

PROSECUTOR: Next witness! I call James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem to the stand.

(Murphy swears in)

PROSECUTOR: Is it not true that the riff behind LCD Soundsystem’s breakthrough club anthem “Losing My Edge” was essentially the same as the riff from the Killing Joke song “Change” released 22 years prior?

MURPHY: You can’t copyright a riff, can you?  I’d call it more of an homage than outright theft …

PROSECUTOR: I think we’ve heard enough from the witnesses. Not only was Killing Joke an essential part of the post-punk movement of the late ’70s and early ’80s, they clearly had a strong influence on the alternative rock of the late ’80s and early ’90s as well as the dance-punk scene in the early 2000s.  And the list goes on: Metallica, Big Black, Ministry, The Sugarcubes, Course of Empire, P.O.D., The Kills …

JUDGE: How does the defense respond to these charges?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The prosecution has made some fair arguments, but I maintain that the influence of my clients has never been widely acknowledged by the general public, the music press or the critics. Take their 1990 album, “Extremities, Dirt, and Various Repressed Emotions.” It’s a hot slab of fierce uncompromising post-punk blending Geordie Walker’s incisive guitar, Paul Raven’s booming bass, Martin Atkins’ explosive percussion and Jaz Coleman’s unsettling yet mesmerizing vocals. Yet I would be willing to postulate that no one in this court room has even heard it!

JUDGE: The court will adjourn for 64 minutes and 31 seconds so we can listen to the defendants perform this album in its entirety.


(fade out)

— Nicholas Coleman

  2 comments for “Back to the '90s: Killing Joke and 'Extremities,' courtroom-drama style

  1. April 20, 2010 at 9:10 am

    This is all I’ve ever wanted from a music blog, ever.

  2. Listen, Dammit
    April 20, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Glad it could be us. Tell your friends!

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