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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Josef K compilation, 26 Nov 2006
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Entomology (Audio CD)
There have been a few compilations of Josef K - `Endless Soul', `Young and Stupid' - as well as reissues like `The Only Fun in Town' and several live albums, but `Entomology' feels like the definitive compilation of the shortly lived/hugely influential act known as Josef K. As several have pointed out, this is very much a companion to last year's compilation of Postcard-era Orange Juice, the fantastic `The Glasgow School.'

Josef K were label mates and relatives of O J, their darker cousins if you like - as with OJ, they had clearly listened to `Spiral Scratch' and the angular joy that was Television, but unlike OJ, they were a bit darker. Their name, stemming from Franz Kafka's `The Trial', is a hint at the fact they were probably closer to the long-coated acts with a hint of the gothic at the time - `Drone' sounds like the missing link between Joy Division and Swell Maps, while the syn-drum elements and wild guitar are similarly JD on `Sense of Guilt' - one of several tracks stemming from the aborted debut album `Sorry for Laughing' (I'm also reminded a little of Paul Haig associate Billy Mackenzie). It's interesting that both Josef K and OJ abandoned their debuts, which fortunately labels like Domino are making available again.

The 22 tracks here stem from those treasured Postcard 7"s, the aborted debut, the debut proper `The Only Fun in Town', and concluding with their 1981 Peel Session - so utterly comprehensive then! Josef K's influence turned out to be quite vast for such a culty band, rumoured to have been the least favourite of the acts put out by Alan Horne. They were part of Paul Morley's New Pop formulation, touched on in the sleeve notes from Mr Morley (mine aren't complete and are sadly just an excerpt as I am working from a promo copy). Acts such as Big Flame and The Wedding Present certainly displayed the intense jangly guitar rhythms of Josef K, while in more recent years acts such as Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, and Interpol have most definitely been tapping into this realm. FF have made a bigger, more commercial version of it - but you do wonder when these acts are going to advance on Josef K, or other acts from the celebrated era we now call Post Punk. The epic `Revelation' sounds like a much more DIY/subtle take on the territory of Interpol's `Roland' (which is more overtly rock and even a bit reminiscent of The Jam), while a more subtle track like `The Specialist' by the `Pol could not exist without the precedent set here.

The most well known track is `Sorry for Laughing', which is not to say it's that well known, despite sounding like a hit single in my imaginary universe. This was memorably worked into an industrial-pop song by Propaganda, a band on ZTT who were associated with Josef K-devotee Paul Morley - the version on `A Secret Wish' is up there with their own classics `Duel' and `P-Machinery.' But for the most part, the material here probably isn't as known as it should be...

`Chance Meeting' has quite an expanded sound and distinguishes itself from the intensely angular likes of `Radio Drill Time', `It's Kinda Funny', & `Heads Watch' - I'm sure there was an Orange Juice member (or two?) on this and it feels more like an OJ track than a Josef K one. It's almost Spectoresque for the DIY indie label! - pianos and horns and stuff all over it. Haig sounds fantastic as he tells us "You lived in the past dear..." which is a line that becomes more important as we march on and gaze back at the galaxy of pop music. B-side `Pictures (Of Cindy)' is a very welcome inclusion, c'mon kids, one listen and you'll send that Bloc Party album to the nearest bin!!

The material from `The Only Fun in Town' more than stands up, five tracks including such highlights as `Fun'N'Frenzy' (which gave the title to a chapter in Simon Reynolds' `Rip It Up & Start Again') , `Heart of Song' (muscular white funk inflected stuff up there with early Gang of Four), and `Crazy to Exist', which gave the title to an earlier JK-reissue and is kind of a template for the better side of C-86.

The final single was `The Missionary', which stemmed from a Peel Session in 1981, so it's nice that b-side `The Angle' is included - setting the tone for the final Peel-derived triad of `Heaven Sent' , `The Missionary', and a cover of Alice Cooper's `Applebush.' `Heaven Sent' is a richer, refined take on their earlier sound - though you wonder if Josef K had reached the end of that cycle naturally, it's hard to imagine several albums of this stuff. `The Missionary' was a fantastic farewell, at just under four minutes it was kind of epic for them, if they ever reformed, this would have to be the last song they played. `Applebush' doesn't sound much like anything else here, a bit poppier and reminding me of someone who is on the tip of my cortex - Swell Maps? The Only Ones? It'll come to me soon...

It was a brief and brilliant career and one definitively captured here - the `Sound of Young Scotland' was fantastic and they were one of those great acts from that time alongside the Mackenzie/Rankine-Associates, Aztec Camera, The Fire Engines, and Orange Juice. They were also one of the most interesting post punk acts , one to file alongside Swell Maps, Pere Ubu, Scritti Politti, The Fall, Wire, Gang of Four, Dirk-Adam & the Ants, The Slits, Magazine, and The Pop Group (to name several, but not all). Paul Haig went on to have a neglected solo career, alongside collaborating with Billy Mackenzie on material later titled `Memory Palace', while Malcolm Ross later joined Aztec Camera and Orange Juice (`Punch Drunk' sounds like a more psychedelic take on the Josef K sound), as well as appearing on the later work of the late Mackenzie. Not sure about the others. They didn't play encores. They were a bit existential. They never got groupies. They weren't Haircut 100. They were Josef K and this is `Entomology.' Your history lesson for today then...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, 27 April 2008
By 
Mr. M. J. Cole "Coleser" (Gloucester UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Entomology (Audio CD)
This is a quirky little number, a sumptuous compilation of leftfield pop gems that makes one murmur, `So that is where Franz Ferdinand got their ideas from...' Josef K famously committed career suicide by aborting their debut album Sorry For Laughing which stayed unreleased until 1990 but six blistering songs from it are found here along with six more from the `follow-up', The Only Fun In Town and three from a 1981 John Peel session. The highlights of this collection, for me, are the four remarkable Postcard 7" singles, the electrifying Radio Drill Time, the poignant It's Kinda Funny, the insouciant Sorry for Laughing and, my favourite, the jangly, plaintive and enormously uplifting Chance Meeting. The album is beautifully packaged in an eye-catching cardboard cover and the sleeve notes, worth a read depending if you are in the mood, are written by a deliriously over-the-top Paul Morley in the form of his life. I'm slightly cross that this bunch weren't my favourite group at the time but I'm happy to make their acquaintance now. Hurrah.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entomology by Josef K, 1 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Entomology (Audio CD)
I was not overly familiar with Josef K before listening to this CD, but as I am exploring the Post Punk of the early 80's I thought I would give it a try. Josef K are an underrated and under represented band of this era, and the CD does them a lot of justice. Josef K are a bit Joy Division, a bit Orange Juice, a bit scratchy, angular pop, but these elements jell in a unique and exciting way. If you are not familiar with Josef K, or have a gap in your CD collection just waiting to be filled, try this. Josef K do not disappoint.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars lovingly presented snapshot of a short-lived dynamic rock band, 16 July 2007
By 
This review is from: Entomology (Audio CD)
Sporting the same name as the hapless bank clerk of Kafka's "The Trial", and suddenly being thrust into the limelight twenty-five years after their demise due to an entirely different Franz - Ferdinand that is - Josef K released just one album and a handful of singles in their short life, this collection brings together that material, as well as tracks from their unreleased debut album and the band's notorious Peel Sessions appearance. And what of it? Whilst fitting very neatly into distinctly post-punk brackets of the time, it's thrilling stuff. The aggressively dynamic driving drums, catchy muffled bass hooks, shimmering reverb-laden guitar harmonics and off-hand rasping vocals all recall early Echo and the Bunnymen, or even a melodic Joy Division. But more than that. This isn't just a rushed cash in of vaguely-Franz-related dated inconsequential tosh, it's a well-compiled, lovingly presented snapshot of a short-lived dynamic rock band.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great album, 17 April 2012
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This review is from: Entomology (Audio CD)
what a group they could be this album gives a good profile of some of their best tracks everybody will recognise some
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5.0 out of 5 stars Postcard, 25 Mar 2012
By 
uksclavain (Nottingham UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Entomology (Audio CD)
Scotlands finest Orange Juice and The Associates close.
*** sigh*** those were the days
Please pretty please never leave the UK you Scots.
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4.0 out of 5 stars lovingly presented snapshot of a short-lived dynamic rock band., 16 July 2007
By 
This review is from: Entomology (Audio CD)
Sporting the same name as the hapless bank clerk of Kafka's "The Trial", and suddenly being thrust into the limelight twenty-five years after their demise due to an entirely different Franz - Ferdinand that is - Josef K released just one album and a handful of singles in their short life, this collection brings together that material, as well as tracks from their unreleased debut album and the band's notorious Peel Sessions appearance. And what of it? Whilst fitting very neatly into distinctly post-punk brackets of the time, it's thrilling stuff. The aggressively dynamic driving drums, catchy muffled bass hooks, shimmering reverb-laden guitar harmonics and off-hand rasping vocals all recall early Echo and the Bunnymen, or even a melodic Joy Division. But more than that. This isn't just a rushed cash in of vaguely-Franz-related dated inconsequential tosh, it's a well-compiled, lovingly presented snapshot of a short-lived dynamic rock band.
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