"..this band still revels in their own potency"
- The Daily Mirror
"..enough to make your heart soar"
- Louder Than War
"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)
Brutalism Begins At Home
The leaves have changed color again with Brutalism, the latest four-track 10" from BOHJ's Johny Brown. (BOHJ's stunning catalogue has stylistically and exigently evolved over three decades-plus, eschewing stasis.) On the opening "Come Home To Me", he's backing by the silky coos of Anne Gilpin (Morton Valence), then he juxtaposes those night/day tonalities via the mega-soulful strains of Lilybud Dearslay. With "Removal Man", swirling keyboard and celebratory horns subdue grim lyrics, allowing funked-out bliss to dominate; Brown's words have always compelled his music and collaborators, not the other way 'round, though clever production possibly birthed an exception this time. Disco keys, spastic horns, midnight, rain-soaked beats... BOHJ may have produced their first dance record; its greatest feat is creating light from gloom.
- Michael Brandon
Penny Black Music
The London quintet the Band of Holy Joy return with this new 10" vinyl and digital release which was produced by notable Primal Scream and Denim producer Brian O'Shaughnessy.
'Come Home to Me' is as downbeat as Joy Division but a decent opener. The second track is 'Travel to Far Flung Towns' which sounds familiarly like the opening track and in fact is an instrumental version of it with a few added effects. It still sounds pretty good though.
'Removal Man' is the strongest of all and very reminiscent of the Fall and Marc Almond. A driving bass and a great hook make it instantly likable. The last track 'I Got This Job on the Brutalism Estate' is again an instrumental of the previous track.
It is a very listenable package and with the band working on a triple CD box set of old Flim Flam recordings and a new album they should make good listening when they drop in the summer.
- Tony Gaughan
Band of Holy Joy weigh in with a 10" release on the Tiny Global Productions imprint. On Brutalism Begins at Home, Johny and co recall their melodic melancholic '80s period with lead-track Come Home To Me brimming with pop sensibilities and trumpets, so underused by today's pop wannabes. It's a glorious song worthy of being on national radio playlists and a reminder that Band of Holy Joy have knocked out some memorable moments during the last thirty years or so. Removal Man is a sardonic soca that in its instrumental form borders on danceable, again heavy on brass and a nifty walking bassline. An enticing precursor to their new album due later in 2017.
- Paul Pledger
The Clouds That Break The Sky
Definitive 3-CD round-up of south London marginwalkers' early outings for Flim Flam.
The Band Of Holy Joy existed in a solitary space. Founded by displaced Geordie Johny Brown while sharing a New Cross squat with Test Department, they pointedly eschewed guitars for cheap pawnshop instrumentation (harmoniums, accordions, violas, Salvation Army drums) allied to primitive electronics. Emerging hot on the heels of Portastudio demo box set (More) Favourite Fairytales For Juvenile Delinquents, these three discs trace their frenetic transformation from loony industrial disco into defiant Brechtian punk-folk cabaret. Raw emotions run rife on Mad Dot, Fishwives and Who Snatched The Baby?, microtragedies that suddenly slash from heartbreak to violence yet still summon warmth in the wilderness. The collection reaffirms Brown's status as a vivid chronicler of seamy London life with the forensic precision of Gordon Burn.
- Andy Cowan