Maximum Joy were a superb collective that haunted Bristol in the early '80s who combined a wide variety of influences - hip-hop, soul, dub, jazz and Afrobeat - to concoct a heady brew of sleek danceable pop. There's the same dub inflected atmospheres that would later be made successful by Massive Attack. This 2x 12" re-issue comes on a new collaborative label between the folks who run Idle Hands and Blackest Ever Black.
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Here's an extraordinary collection from pre Massive Attack era Bristol where the sounds of post-punk, dub, jazz and soul collided in a magnificent splash of colour for Maximum Joy. The songs here are vibrant and upbeat and remarkably experimental. It often sounds like you are standing in the middle of the street whilst two soundsystems play simultaneously. 'Silent Street' builds up from tight knit dub sounds as if the Raincoats had collaborated with King Tubby. There's a brilliant use of space here, Janine Rainforth's distinctive voice sits above the track battling for supremacy with Tony Wrafter's busy saxophone and trumpet squeaks.
Their music is giddy. It often sounds like they've just discovered how to combine funk and punk and have been given a wide palette of colours to work from in order to realise it. It's rhythmically infectious with bursts of staccato instrumentation with the most unusual blend of instruments being thrown together. On 'Simmer Till Done' a piano picks out the main melody line above the dub inflected drums whereas on 'Building Bridges' the group combine guitars and trumpets in a style which sounds like the Beat's first album being messed with by Lee 'Scratch' Perry.
This is vibrant music that suggests it could easily soundtrack street parties but listen intensely on the headphones and it's as essential to the development of post punk/funk as Liquid Liquid or A Certain Ratio.
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