22nd March | Exchange

The vowels are all but gone. But the funk lives on…well, albeit at a maybe more ethereal level than in their earlier form. Maximum Joy were a free-jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop, post-punk, angular Bristol melée made up of ex-members of The Pop Group and Glaxo Babies, formed in 1981 by saxophonist Tony Wrafter (Glaxo Babies) and singer Janine Rainforth.

After a couple of years, a handful of singles and an Adrian Sherwood-produced album, Station MXJY, the band split. Before this, Wrafter had been replaced by Jeremy Hirsch and a certain Nelly Hooper – producer of Massive Attack and many others – had joined on percussion and backing vocals. Rainforth also left just before their last single, a Denis Bovell-produced cover of the Timmy Thomas soul number, ‘Why Can’t We Live Together’, was released in 1983.

In 2015, with interest in the band’s past work still around, Rainforth, Wrafter and original drummer Charlie Llewellin reformed Maximum Joy. Now known as MXMJoY and with Wrafter seemingly out again – why can’t they all live together…? – their sound is now less grittier than before, although the undercurrents of that early 80s edge still remain within their new dreamy mix of electronica, funk and R&B.

The new MXMJoY album, P.E.A.C.E. was released in January this year, an interesting collage of the above. This hometown gig of the restructured Bristol post-punk pioneers should be intriguing to say the least.

See the video to ‘Can Man Conquer It All’ here: