Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ritual – Songs for a Dead King (unreleased – 1981 / 1983)

It’s been almost a year since we last discussed Ritual in an article that led to my discovery of the unreleased Songs for a Dead King. In bizarre mea culpa – it’s sat on my hard drive unheard until yesterday, and the loss is totally mine, because it’s very good indeed.

That Ritual never formally released this is almost a crime – it’s vastly better than the stuff they released through Red Flame.

As one might expect from their vinyl releases, it straddles the line between punk and what would become known as “Goth”. What one might not expect is the odd, and indeed cute, media samples in between songs.

Curiously, Ritual seem to have unleashed Songs for a Dead King on an unsuspecting world twice. The first time was in 1981, which they then followed up with the “Mind Disease” 7” (Red Flame, 1982) and the “Kangaroo Court” 12” (Red Flame, 1983) before Songs for A Dead King makes a reappearance in 1983. It’s not clear to me if the two versions are the same album in different packaging, or if Ritual actually recorded the entire thing over again.

The cassette cover of the 1983 version

A different version of “Mind Disease” appears here, and is much more engaging than the 7” version, and so does a much improved version of “Brides” from the Kangaroo Court 12”.

More importantly there are some brilliant tracks like “Portrait”, “End Product” and “Assassin” that don’t appear anywhere else, and a wonderfully aggression-fueled interpretation of The Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man”.

And happily, some helpful little soul has put the entire thing on Youtube for us.

Structure (of my Madness)

Human Sacrifice








Waiting for the Man

End Product

Mind Disease


As noted, Songs for a Dead King was never formally released on any label. suggests that “While shopping their demo around the band compiled a cassette tape of live tracks and demo recordings to sell to fans.”
This raises more questions – was this album put together as a “proof of concept” thing for a forthcoming album, or was it perhaps produced for fans only? Seemingly it resides in a strange grey area of being more than a demo yet less than an album.

In the end though, it doesn’t really matter, because it’s quite brilliant, deserves to be more widely disseminated, and it’s here:

Track Listing
  1. Structure (of my Madness)
  2. Human Sacrifice
  3. Playtime
  4. Manpower
  5. Portrait
  6. Cult
  7. Brides
  8. Closedown
  9. Effigy
  10. Waiting for the Man
  11. End Product
  12. Mind Disease
  13. Assassin
I hate to use the same band pic twice, but there just isn't that 
much out there - if anyone wanted to send me something better, I'd appreciate it.

Line Up: Errol Blythe (vocals), Ray Mondo (drums), Jamie Stewart (guitar), Steve Pankhurst (saxophone)


  1. either i'm very very stupid, or the link is missing. or maybe both! thank you for this anyway!

  2. How odd. It was working fine last I looked, but the link seems to have mysteriously removed it self. I think I've fixed it now, so try again. Songs for a Dead King is totally worth the effort.

  3. Hey James, thanks for this post. I have some things for you. Message me. J

  4. Errol's kids go to my daughter school! Great days from the Roxborough!

  5. You missed Mark Bond (bass) from the lineup.