The Land Of Holy Joy 540 x 540
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September 21, 2015

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All songs written, arranged and performed by Band Of Holy joy Recorded at Slowfoot studios in Forest Hill by Frank Byng. Produced by Frank Byng and Band Of Holy Joy. Executive Producer - Tim King. Mastered at Trace Recordings by Mark Beazley.

The Land Of Holy Joy – Band Of Holy Joy CD/DL album

  • The Land Of Holy Joy
  • Isn't That Just The Life
  • All The Girls Are Wearing Desert Boots Of Pale And Subtle Shade
  • Men Who Display A Different Kind Of Pain
  • Violent Drunken Strangers
  • Discredited Art Form
  • A Good Close Friend
  • A Place Called Home
  • I'm Crass Harry

It‘s been a long and interesting journey, since 1984, when Johny Brown first formed Band of Holy Joy. Following two self-released cassette-only album releases, they released their first album proper, More Tales from the City on South London label Flim Flam. Inconceivable as it may seem today, BOHJ were Smash Hits’ cover stars back then, through their Rough Trade album Manic, Magic, Majestic. Their closest compadres then would have been labelmates, Dublin’s The Virgin Prunes whose similarly theatrical and provocative live performances led to a perhaps lazy journalistic assessment that both bands should be filed under some kind of ‘Theatre of the Absurd’. That puts it in perspective - BOHJ were never gonna be easy to categorise, and still aren’t to this day. Band of Holy Joy, have been documenting a London life, whether it be through sharing squats with Test Department in New Cross in the South, to documenting almost every part of London lifestyle with and without style, from squats in the North, the West and to finally end up in the cool parts of the East in Shoreditch and Stoke Newington – who would have thought. BOHJ’s inspirational beginnings came through the wonderful creative shambles that was their interpretation of a new wave take on Brecht and Weil in the 20’s and 30’s; and their shambolic performances with junk-shop instruments and rudimentary electronics. BOHJ’s sound, has over the years, said to have included elements of post-punk, folk rock, European cabaret, reflective instrumentation and epic pop, but founder and only constant band-member, along with Bill Lewington who has done his time immemorial for the artistic wheel that is BOHJ, Johny, insists “we are very much an Indie band, but an open ended outwardly musical thinking Indie band as opposed to the traditional Sarah type Indie bands, but our roots are in Indie, much more than they are in The Pogues or Brecht, but I'm also happy when those elements are mentioned”. Regardless, their literate lyricism and traditionalism did find them somehow aligned with The Pogues, but as Shane’s lyricism shambled wonderfully into a more global approach to storytelling, particularly to Australia and NYC, Johny’s visions lay deeply rooted in the modern-day London and all it didn’t have to offer. Today, thirty years on, his vision is more Orwellian, 1984, but transmitted through omnipresent modern day technology - broadcasting from the radio stations and CCTV cameras, the ones not censored and somehow still allowed to beam the stories from the street – sleaze and scandal, social misjustice, refugees, the homeless, the abused, those mental health issues and personal health worries; all viewed through a scanner darkly. Band of Holy Joy have had more personnel changes than The Fall, and are about to release their nineteenth album, Land of Holy Joy, their first on Stereogram Recordings. As is their want, the lyricism on the recent introductory single Isn’t That Just the Life deals with the darker side of life, but the music and instrumentation are upbeat, resulting in an uplifting and cool indie, almost Northern Soul-esque slice of a Summer which never quite materialised. In a perfect world this would have been Top Ten, but we live in a far from perfect world, yet Band of Holy Joy continue to have the ability to document ‘days in the life’ of random individuals lyrically, plumbing the lower depths of inner city urban existence and all that goes with it, and sugar-coating it with their trademark musical upbeat optimism. The last long player (Un-Easy Listening) released in early 2014 saw the band slimmed down to a six-piece, which has resulted in possibly BOHJ’s best songwriting partnership to date, in the shape of Johny and mercurial guitarist James Stephen Finn. Exceptional reviews followed (see Press Pack), accompanied by a handful of well received European and UK dates, and a series of download singles celebrating ‘good living and bad livers’, the highlight being their tribute to George Best on ‘When a Gift is a Curse’. The album cover visual speaks volumes as to what is inside – the vision of sheep doing as they do as normal, against a backdrop of a pre-apocalyptic happening – a world on the verge of every crisis imaginable, whilst some just sit back and get on with what they do regardless of the outcome. It’s a frightening metaphor for what we are all living through today. I’ve made a point of not trying to dissect every song on the album, as is the want of most PR fluff that may come your way – rather, listen yourself, explore the lyrics and come to your own conclusion. I think it’s pretty clear. On the whole, I have to say there is not much lightness here, it is in the most-part pretty dark, but there is respite through the beauty of the overall sound - I kinda see this as the soundtrack to a particularly harrowing Ray Winstone and Olivia Coleman drama. Labelmate Lou Reid, chanteuse with Lola in Slacks offered this for ‘Isn’t that Just the Life’: “It’s a real gem. Love the opening line: ‘the tattoo on my pelvic bone is faded’ - Lyrics are especially great written from a girl’s perspective. Quite a celebration of the female spirit. Love it! Johny’s voice is a real heartbreak too”. And … “Johny is the patron saint and torch singer for a tier of humanity increasingly ground down by bastard, callous, remote and indifferent powers that be, especially in this here big city of London”. David Stubbs – The Quietus and Author of Future Days “Teenager stabbed on bus dies in best friend’s arms Disabled work longer hours because they are grateful Some nights I break I admit I just walk and I cry But I’m going to change this world before I die” ‘Isn’t That Just the Life – Band of Holy Joy, 2015’

BAND OF HOLY JOY: JAMES STEPHEN FINN - guitar and keyboards; JOHNNY BROWN - vocals; PETER SMITH - organs and saxophone; WILLIAM LEWINGTON - drums and percussion; MARK BEAZLEY - bass; HOWARD JACQUES - melodica; INGA TILLERE - photography, design and visuals. ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS: CHRISTOPHER BRIERLY - violin; TOM MARRIOT - trombone; SIMON RIVERS - backing vocals; ANNE GILPIN - backing vocals; ROBERT JESSETT - bacKing vocals