Eighties (song)

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Eighties 12" 1984.jpg
Single by Killing Joke
from the album Night Time
B-side The Coming Mix
Released April 1984
Genre Post-punk
Length 3:51
Label E.G.
Killing Joke singles chronology
"Me or You?"
"A New Day"
Music video
"Eighties" on YouTube
Night Time track listing
7" Release
Eighties Side A Inner Sleeve
Eighties Side B Inner Sleeve

"Eighties" is Killing Joke's first single from their fifth studio album, Night Time. It was originally released in April 1984[1] by E.G. Records as a 12" and 7" single, produced by Chris Kimsey. The 12" single A-side featured the track "Eighties (Serious Dance Mix)" with "Eighties" and "Eighties (The Coming Mix)" as B-sides. The 7" single exempted the "Serious Dance Mix" and instead, featured "Eighties" as the A-side. Also, the 7" single was sold with a bonus 7" single of "Let's All Go (To the Fire Dances)". The single reached No. 60 in the UK Singles Chart. A short snippet of "Eighties" was the opening theme to the short-lived 2002 Fox sitcom That '80s Show.


According to drummer Paul Ferguson, "Eighties", like other music by Killing Joke, was "aggressive music. It's not polite entertainment...we've got songs in the dance charts...as far as I'm concerned, Killing Joke is dance music. I'm not at all displeased with getting into the disco charts. I think it shows great hope for the world."[2]

In a 2004 interview with Alex Smith, Ferguson described the band's music as "the sound of the earth vomiting. I’m never quite sure whether to be offended by the question of 'are we Punk' or not, because, I loved Punk music, but we weren't. And I think our influences were beyond Punk. Obviously before Punk, there was Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and there was Yes even and King Crimson, and those had all influenced me as a player, and the other guys would say other things, but I’m sure they were all part of their history as well."[3]

Conflict with Nirvana[edit]

The song "Come as You Are", by American grunge band Nirvana, featured a riff similar to "Eighties." Nirvana and their management company, Gold Mountain, were unsure about releasing the song as a single from their 1991 studio album, Nevermind. Danny Goldberg, head of Gold Mountain, later revealed that "[w]e couldn't decide between 'Come as You Are' and 'In Bloom.' Kurt [Cobain] was nervous about 'Come as You Are' because it was too similar to a Killing Joke song but we all thought it was still the better song to go with. And, he was right, Killing Joke later did complain about it."[4] Nirvana biographer Everett True wrote that "Come as You Are" was eventually chosen for release as a single because "Goldberg favoured the more obviously commercial song".

After Nirvana released the single in 1992, members of Killing Joke claimed the main guitar riff of "Come as You Are" plagiarized the riff of "Eighties", but according to Rolling Stone magazine, they did not file a copyright infringement lawsuit, because of "personal and financial reasons".[4] However, conflicting reports, such as Kerrang!, have stated differently.

Cobain's death in 1994 effectively dissolved Nirvana and the conflict with Killing Joke.[5] If there was a lawsuit filed as Kerrang! claimed, it was either thrown out of court,[6] or it was dropped to take the burden off the remaining members of Nirvana and their management. However, the court that supposedly took the case was not named and many doubted that Killing Joke ever filed a lawsuit against Nirvana.[7]

An interview with Geordie Walker that same year[8] confirmed the possibility of a said lawsuit, thus proving that the claim by Kerrang! was not a hoax. Walker stated:

Nine years later, in 2003, Dave Grohl, Nirvana's drummer, took a leave of absence from his current band, the Foo Fighters, to record drums for Killing Joke's second self-titled album. The move surprised some Nirvana fans, given Nirvana's past conflict with Killing Joke.

Bill Janovitz, writer for the website Allmusic, reviewed "Eighties". He compared and contrasted "Come as You Are" and "Eighties":[2]

However, The Big Takeover magazine's Jack Rabid reported that Captain Sensible's "Life Goes On", recorded by The Damned for their 1982 album, Strawberries, "features the exact same, extremely unique riff as both 'Eighties' and 'Come as You Are'."[9] Coleman and Ferguson separately claimed to have no knowledge of this.[3][9]

Track listings[edit]

7" vinyl single[edit]

Side A
  1. "Eighties" – 03:35
Side B
  1. "Eighties (The Coming Mix)" – 03:33

12" vinyl single[edit]

Side A
  1. "Eighties (Serious Dance Mix)" – 06:02
Side B
  1. "Eighties" – 03:35
  2. "Eighties (The Coming Mix)" – 03:33


Chart (1984) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[10] 60


  1. ^ "Eighties". Retrieved 12 December 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Janovitz, Bill. "Song Review-Eighties". Allmusic. Retrieved on December 12, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Smith, Alex (4 September 2004). Interview with Big Paul Ferguson. Flaming Pablum. Retrieved on 12 December 2008.
  4. ^ a b Borzillo-Vrenna, Carrie (10 April 2003). Nirvana Pay Back Killing Joke. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 12 December 2008.
  5. ^ History Link biog of Cobain retrieved December 12, 2008
  6. ^ "Conspiracy of Two". Kerrang!. April 12, 2003
  7. ^ "Interview with Killing Joke's Geordie". BBC. Retrieved on December 12, 2008.
  8. ^ Slater, Tim. "Killing Joke interview". Guitarist. December 1994.
  9. ^ a b Rabid, Jack. "What's This For? More Revelations from Jaz Coleman". The Big Takeover. Issue 54, Summer 2004. Archived here.
  10. ^ "Archive Chart: 1984-04-07" UK Singles Chart.