Boomkat Product Review:
Remastered, cleaned up and tempo corrected with assistance from the band themselves, Maximum Joy's legendary Radio 1 Sessions have never sounded better. Properly crucial material for anyone into OG post-punk experiments - RIYL The Slits, The Pop Group, A Certain Ratio or ESG.
Despite only releasing a single album - 1982's Adrian Sherwood-produced "Station MXJY" - and a slew of singles (collected on 2018's ace "I Can't Stand It Here On Quiet Nights" comp), Bristol's Maximum Joy managed to cast a long shadow on the underground music scene. Cult figures in New York City as well as back home in the UK, they were supported by John Peel from day one, who invited the band to record a session before Kid Jenson did the same a few months later. This set collects both sessions, and cleans up the material on the original tapes. “We discovered the existing Radio 1 session ‘tapes’ had suffered and decayed in quality," explains the band's vocalist and founder Janine Rainforth. "Specifically [they] were all running too slow and not true to the originals. These are restored to the original sound and recording quality."
Maximum Joy achieved notoriety for their ability to weld together seemingly disparate sounds, absorbing reggae, punk, jazz and funk elements and coherently adding a pop sheen, assisted by Rainforth's grounding English vocals. With the bass-heavy, tight technicality of Gang of Four and give-no-f*cks punkiness of The Slits, they also exhibited an understanding of dub techniques and skronky jazz experimentalism. All of this drips from the seams on these five cuts, beginning with the Peel Session-recorded 'All Wrapped Up', the EP's most angular track. Here Rainforth alternates between a rap and a squeal, gurgling dangerously over horn blasts, echo'd out drums and punk-funk bass. Everything flips when we hit the Kid Jensen Sessions - as opposed to Peel's, Jensen's show aired midday - and displays Maximum Joy's pop prowess with singalong lyrics and memorable riffs on 'In The Air'.
'Searching for a Feeling' is the EP's slickest moment, sounding like a precursor to NYC's DFA as well as closer bands like Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand, but it's the Peel Session-recorded 'Dancing On My Boomerang' that has our jaws on the floor. Assembled from aerated percussive sounds and time-tunnel strings x horns, it's completely off on its own - fully ahead of its time with chugging ambience and dissociated rhythms.