Killing Is My Business… and Business is Good: The Final Kill
Killing is My Business was one of the de-facto thrash records back when the genre was in its infancy. Dave and the boys are re-issuing a final version of their first ever record. We take a listen and look back at how important it was at the time.
Megadeth is a complex and interesting animal. If you were to take a spin through the top-ten Megadeth songs on Spotify today it would be hard to connect any of them to the band that wrote Killing Is My Business. Even their second album Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying was refined in comparison to the vicious and uncivilized chaos that was to be found on Killing.
As has been written about many times before, Killing was Dave Mustaine’s therapy record after being thrown out of Metallica. It’s vitriolic, harsh, fast and technical. There are no A Tout Le Monde’s to be found here, even the (unnecessary?) cover of Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walking rips your face off as soon as it starts. I’ll come back to this song later since it’s got a bit of history.
After Killing, Megadeth really refined their songcraft and relaxed into being one of the world’s biggest thrash-metal bands. Fifteen months later they would release Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?, which I still think stands out as their best work to date. The anger and chaos of Killing were replaced by clever songwriting and a slower, heavier sound and a more cohesive set of songs. Arguably still in the shadow of Metallica though, who release possibly the best metal record ever in the same year, Master of Puppets.
Back to this re-issue though, I should point out that as a general rule I am not a fan of re-issues, re-masters or any other kind of re-anything. Leave the past the way it was, there is rarely a good reason to muck about with hugely popular albums. I am probably the only person on the planet that is happy that Metallica hasn’t re-issued …And Justice For All with the missing bass track. Some things should be left alone.
With that said, there are a couple of things about the Killing Is My Business.. and Business is Good: The Final Kill version that I think justify the release. Firstly, the cover of Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots, where Dave Mustaine changed the lyrics on the original is now much better. Changing the lyrics meant that the original had to be bleeped all over to enable its release, this resulted in a hateful auditory experience. The updated version has an all-new Mustaine vocal on it which is not bleeped out and the lyrics remain true to the Nancy Sinatra version. Plus there is a gorgeous live version of Rattlehead from Germany in 1987 which really seems to sum up where the band were at that time.
I was thinking about to sum this release up. Strangely, as much as this record was huge to me at the time of its release I don’t think I’ve listened to anything from Killing is for quite a while. So, as unnecessary as re-releases are I really enjoyed going back through these songs. Is it Megadeth’s best work? probably not, but at the same time it’s probably their most important. It set the tone for decades of thrash bands and played a huge part in defining an entire music genre. There are also some really great songs here, The Skull Beneath The Skin, Rattlehead, Looking Down The Cross and the assault on the senses that is Mechanix. Should you buy it? Well, it does sound better than the original, its louder and cleaner plus the bass is easier to pick out, which is worthy of mention. David Ellefson’s bass playing on this record is absolutely stellar, I don’t think I realised just how good it was at the time, but listening again now and it really stands out. In fact, it’s worth getting this re-release just to hear how good a bass player Ellefson actually is.
In summary, Killing Is My Business… and Business is Good: The Final Kill is probably one for the time served Megadeth fans out there. It’s a great reminder of just how good they were out of the gate. There are some seriously hard-hitting songs on here and the production has been improved for the better. The cover of Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots no longer sucks and you get some pretty cool live footage from 1986/87. If you’re a Megadeth fan from back in the day, this is probably right up you’re street. If you love late 80’s thrash and somehow miraculously never heard this, then now might be the time to discover what all of the fuss about Megadeth was about!
The Megadeth Website is here