Jello Biafra

There's always room for left-wing propaganda
*special introductory paragraph!
*No More Cocoons
*High Priest Of Harmful Matter - Tales From The Trial
*Last Scream Of The Missing Neighbors (with D.O.A.)
*I Blow Minds For A Living
*Jello Biafra With Plainfield
*Prairie Home Invasion (with Mojo Nixon)
*Beyond The Valley Of The Gift Police
*If Evolution Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Evolve
*Become The Media
*The Big Ka-Boom, Part One
*Machine Gun In The Clown's Hand
*Never Breathe What You Can't See (with The Melvins)
*In The Grip Of Official Treason
*Jezebel 7"
*The Audacity Of Hype (with The Guantanamo School Of Medicine)
*Enhanced Methods of Questioning EP (with Guantanamo School of Medicine<)

Jelo Binarkers used to sing for the Dead Kennedys. He's a political shitmonger, so when they broke up he started doing spoken word tours and recording them. He also got together with some of his favorite artists to record some music every now and again. Here's reviews of both, Jack!


No More Cocoons - Alternative Tentacles 1987.
Rating = 8

Jello's first spoken word album! This is a double album that is split between scripted speeches (some strictly political, others humorously political), short soundbites of radio appearances and a 26-minute casual talk on censorship. Jello is VERY left-wing, to the point of making me question whether he might be too easily accepting everything he reads that fits his world view. In short, everything big business and Christians say is a lie, and everything that the liberal books he reads is true.

Quite frankly, he's probably right! The "facts" he spreads in pieces like "Mild Kingdom" (a spoken word version of "The Great Potshot Heard Around The World") and "What Reagan Didn't Know" may very well be true. And if they are, they're FRIGHTENING. I'm not saying I believe everything he says, but it's certainly food for thought. It's good that we have people like Jello actually READING these alternative texts, letting us know about covert government goings-on that may very well have occurred.

So that political stuff, plus an uproarious piece in which Jello suggests new names for bands ("MONDALE"!) is the upside - and it's a big upside! He's got an interesting voice, clearly believes very fiercely in what he's saying, and is filled with punk rock charisma. On the downside, he spends way too much time addressing the way that pussy parents treat their kids, reads a bunch of random newspaper clippings, recites the words to "Stars And Stripes Of Corruption" and does this incredibly tasteless thing called "Why I'm Glad The Space Shuttle Blew Up." He has his reasons, but for a guy who pretends to really care about people, he sure acts like a heartless bastard in this one, making fun of the kids on TV crying as their teacher died. Why? Why in life?

Reader Comments

edm1213@msn.com (Eric Miller)
This is Jello's best spoken word album. While Become the Media and The Big Ka-Boom have some good stuff, i can't get completely into it because Jello is well, to much of a Nader-ite. I liked Nader in 2000 too, but in hindsight.... anyway this has most of Jello's best stuff, from Vietnam Never Happened to What Reagan Didn't Know, Urinalysis is Freedom, and of course Names for Bands. some of my favorites....

MAGNUM JIHAD!
Janitors of Anarchy
Sell Your Mom
The Crotch Puppets
Satan's Buttermilk
Aryan Embarassment
John Wayne On Acid
Al Sharpton's Hair
You're Fired
Shut up and Buy

and more.... 9 of 10 for No More Cocoons

steve.robey@mindspring.com
New Age Tranquility: Earth Fart....
I always crack up at "MONDALE!" too.

No More Cocoons is probably Jello's most "fun" spoken word album, though of course there's plenty of "serious" political material here. I believe it was the first time I'd really been exposed to the issue of censorship in the music industry. The whole thing with the PMRC pissed me off so much back then, probably as much as the war on terrorism pisses me off nowadays. I even wrote a term paper in college that drew heavily on the "facts" he presents in opposition to the RIA and the PMRC. In retrospect, I probably didn't make an extraordinarily strong argument - the term paper was more of a vanity project by an unquestioning fan than a serious analysis - but the teacher either liked it or didn't give a shit, cause I got a B on the paper.

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High Priest Of Harmful Matter - Tales From The Trial - Alternative Tentacles 1989.
Rating = 8

Jello's second spoken word album was another double-LP, this one split between a 45-minute speech on censorship and a 45-minute recollection of his experience being taken to court on obscenity charges for the Dead Kennedys' Frankenchrist album. The first LP begins with an incredibly interesting history of censorship in rock and roll before deviating into an overall look at the PMRC and censorship in general that gets a bit tiresome after a while. I mean, it's a good speech, but not exactly "entertaining" on repeated listenings. The second LP, however, is an absolute gas (fart). Jello makes fun of cops, jurors and district attorneys with an uncontrollable zeal and glee (fart), and there are lots of laughs in his tale of harrassment and semi-justice (diahrrea). You'll chuckle and chuckle again, as if enjoying the antics of a delightful left-wing circus clown!

Reader Comments

steve.robey@mindspring.com
Brain Death! Mind Death! School Damage! Straight A's!
None of which has anything to do with the second Biafra spoken word album, High Priest of Harmful Matter. Oddly enough, I didn't even see this one in stores until well after I'd gotten the black and white one with the toilet on the cover, so I always think of this as his third. For a Biafra album, this one's okay, but he already seems to be repeating himself on the censorship rants. The "Tales from the Trial" segment, almost half of the 2 disc set, is a real fun time though - a lighthearted slice of personal anecdotes that you rarely get with your box of Jello. And now a word about "Love, American Death Squad Style" - to my ears, this is 12 minutes of pretty much free-form, almost stream of consciousness verbal riffing that still doesn't make complete sense after 15 years, but I sure love to listen to it. The weird thing is that he obviously IS trying to make a point, but I'll be a squeezable shark tooth if I can figger out what it is. Is it me? For a moment?

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Last Scream Of The Missing Neighbors (with D.O.A.) - Alternative Tentacles 1988.
Rating = 9

D.O.A. really sucks, so it's amazing how good this record is. It features four awesome heavy fast punk/metal originals, a sweet cover of "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" and the coup de grace "Full Metal Jackoff," a 14-minute trudger in which Biafra accuses the government of pumping drugs into the ghettos in a sinister plot to further racial genocide and create a state of panic so severe that martial law will be not only accepted, but welcomed. This song is considered by me and at least one other person in the world (Christian Smith) to be one of the most brilliant Biafra creations of all time. The repetitive heavy midtempo metallic guitar chugging, combined with brilliant lyrics and a frighteningly intense vocal delivery, create a mood so oppressive and maddening that the listener actually feels as if he is riding shotgun in the narrator's "black van with no windows and a chimney puffing smoke." It marks a perfect conclusion to what is probably Biafra's most instantly enjoyable album since the breakup of the Dead Kennedys. The four originals are fairly similar to each other, but extremely catchy, heavy, gritty, uptempo and filled with lots more great examples of Jello's funny political lyrics, as you can tell just by looking at the song titles - "Attack of the Peacekeepers," "Wish I Was In El Salvador," "Power Is Boring" - as well as the uproariously moronic intro to the record, in which he leads a band chant of "Gimme an M! Gimme an A! Gimme a U! Gimme an L! Gimme your money! What's that spell? Maul! What's that spell? SHOPPING MALL!!!!"

It's really damn short at only 31 minutes, but it's also really damn good, so, as Ten Years After say in their classic rock anthem "I'd Love To Change The World," "I'll leave it up you."

I think it was Ten Years After anyway. Who gives a shit. Fucking go-nowhere one hit wonder shit band. Might have been Spirit for all I know. Either way, the song fucking blows. Sounds like Kansas - fucking pussy art rock that thinks it's so "serious." If I want "serious" art rock, I'll listen to a band that does it right, like Blink 182.

Reader Comments

steve.robey@mindspring.com
Ditto on your opinion of "Full Metal Jackoff" - I crank that one loud and often. One of his best set of lyrics too. Totally outclasses everything else on the album, not to mention everything that DOA has ever done. Speaking of - my friend lent me a DVD of DOA's farewell concert, and Jello Biafra shows up towards the end to sing "Full Metal Jackoff" and a couple other songs. And he's wearing shades, a trench coat, and a cheesy goatee! Which is of course what he wore in his old band, Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

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I Blow Minds For A Living - Alternative Tentacles 1991.
Rating = 6

Overly self-congratulatory album title, bland spoken word album. Contains some interesting information about hemp and right-wing bigshots who somehow managed to avoid having to serve in Vietnam, as well as a hilarious personal anecdote about running for mayor and some other interesting political opinions. However, it also includes what are probably the two most humorless and strangely ineffective pieces he's ever written -- "Pledge of Allegiance" and "Die For Oil, Sucker," two sides of a single that comes across more like a pedantic Jello Biafra parody than the real thing. Elsewhere, there's another hour's worth of mindnumbingly repetitive anti-censorship talk. Yes, there's some interesting bits of propaganda and information included here and there, but mostly it's just the same stuff he always talks about. The PMRC, the slow but sure enactment of martial law and how bad all politicians are. Which they ARE, of course, but it doesn't make for an incredibly compelling listen if you've heard his first two spoken word albums.

Mind you, I'm not knocking information.

Rather, I'm knock-knock-knocking on Heaven's door. Hey hey. Hey hey yeah.

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Jello Biafra With Plainfield - Alternative Tentacles 1993.
Rating = 7

Jello does not actually appear on this record - it was a hoax. A godawful band called Plainfield got a guy who sounds like Jello Biafra (sources say that it's Grux, the leader of Caroliner), and put out a little EP making fun of Jello's propaganda and punk rock reminiscences. I used to love it, and was planning to give it the highest grade on this page, but now that I'm older, I realize that it's really not nearly as brilliant as I used to think. It's basically one joke over and over, with a few great lines here and there. However, the artwork and inserts are unbelievably hilarious parodies of the typical Jello/Winston Smith newspaper cutout-type stuff.

If you can manage to find a copy, buy it. You'll laugh your ass off the first couple of times you hear it, and after that you can still enjoy the artwork and inserts. Plus there actually ARE two good songs on here - "Eric's Throwpillow" and the BRILLIANT "Not Enough Sage," which by itself is worth the price of the album. "Nuance of Fifty Cents" also has some great lines, though it's musically a throwaway. The other three tracks are stupid, ruining the basic joke by setting Jello up as a transvestite murderer. Why? Because Plainfield aren't incredibly clever for the most part. I got one of their normal albums and it's just atrocious.

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Prairie Home Invasion (with Mojo Nixon and the Toadliquors) - Alternative Tentacles 1993.
Rating = 7

Jello tackles country western with great aplomb. His new lyrics are hilarious attacks on loser punks and limousine liberals and Mojo gets in a few good gripes too. Smart, funny, and the music is a nonstop bouncy hoedown - NOT country rock or modern Garth Brooks pop crap. Too many cover tunes though (SIX of them!!! And they're not anywhere NEAR as clever or interesting as the originals!). I can't say any more right now. My puppy is in the hospital and I'm very upset. Please pray for him to whomever you might pray to.

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Beyond The Valley Of The Gift Police - Alternative Tentacles 1994.
Rating = 8

Your prayers worked!!! My Puppy is home and just as frisky and annoying as always!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!! Also, please note that I may now have prospective employers visiting this site, so no more cussing.

This is a TRIPLE-CD spoken word album, which you'd think would be unlistenable, but it's really not! Jello is SHITfilled with interesting factoids on this one, mostly about the government and religious right of course, but also about "experts"! (Great 30-minute segment about the failings of so-called experts). Better still is the fact that he shares lots of personal anecdotes about his runins with members of the religious right, his appearances on various talk shows and his youth growing up in the 60s and 70s. This to me is the perfect combination for a spoken word album by ANYBODY -- one part "important" facts that you would never think to look up on your own and one part personal stories that help show why a person is the way he is. Anybody could sit up on stage and read out of various leftwing books like Jelpo does, but he's the only who could tell the story of meeting Tipper Gore before an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show because he's the only one who lived through that particular experience of Mr. Jelpo Binarkers! So, yeah, great comeback after the disappointing I Blow Boys For A Living.

However, it IS hard to make it through disc two (a nearly completely political speech) on repeated occasions, and the "humorous" piece in which he speaks from the point of view of a religious redneck who wants to "BAN EVERYTHING!" is just miserably annoying. And not clever at all. Shades of "Die For Boils, Tucker! TUCKER!!!! FUCK YOU!!!!"

And remember my rule - no cussing. I don't want prospective employers to think that I hang around with a bunch of lowlifes.

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If Evolution Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Evolve - Alternative Tentacles 1998.
Rating = 7

Pituitary Gland Jenkins! Hello kids, I'm Pituitary Gland Jenkins! Would you like to enjoy a delightful cola with you and yours? Let's do each other in the nerp!

Stop cussing, Pituitary Gland Jenkins. My future employer will refuse to pay me 65 batrillion dollars a minute as I demand on my resume, which is carved in blood on my fiancee's ass. This is another triple-spoken-word CD mostly about politics and censorhips and puch. Fit's GOOD! Actually disc one has a lot of awful overdramatic pre-written stuff on it (including a reprise of the heartless "Why I'm Glad The Space Shuttle Blew Up"!), but the next two discs are nonstop greed and viciousness!!!! He hates Clinton and Newt, loves Noam Chomsky and Jerry Brown (of "California Uber Alles" fame!). Hates the death penalty, loves artists. Hates the religious right, loves peeing into his own mouth. He has a lot to say, this Jello Biafra. He reads a lot and picks out stuff that's so creepily disenchanting, it's even more sensationalistic than the USA Today-style TV news he attacks so venemously. And it includes the hilarious mental image of "Newt Gingrich, eyes gouged out, hanging from a tree"! And Bello sells his triple-spoken-word CDs really cheap! Unless you buy them at HMV or Tower who'll screw ya just as soon as fuck ya up the ass.

Here's a little riddle for you: Why do all these Jello CDs have so many obvious splices in them? Poor editing!

My dog pooped on the floor a few minutes ago. I'm not gonna clean it up for a few days, so you can come over and smell it if you want. Jello has a new triple-spoken-word CD out in 2001 called Become The Media that I just ordered through djangos.com. I'll review it soon! Don't get angry! I'll review it as soon as I get it! Jesus, calm down! Don't come near me with that pomeranian likc cokajr!

xxxxx

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Wouldn't it have been funny if I'd actually been killed there? Ha ha indeed! Like a friend in need!

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* Become The Media - Alternative Tentacles 2001. *
Rating = 10

Another triple-spoken-word CD from Eric Boucher - and his best one for sure! The speeches are pulled from seven different locales, including a Hacker's Convention, the Green Party Presidential Nominating Convention, a Community Christian Church in Kansas City (!!!!), a "Slam The N.A.B." Protest, plus clubs in Philadelphia, Toronto and Jello's hometown of Boulder, CO. In addition to a delightful variety of subject matter (The W.T.O. Protests, the Republican and Democratic Conventions, the Internet, how much broadcasters suck, etc.), you get to hear some more interesting stuff about Jello's life, including how he was recently sued by the other three Dead Kennedys because he wouldn't let them use "Holiday In Cambodia" in a Levi's commercial, the pain he felt when his sister was killed in a 1996 rock climbing accident and even how much he enjoys Beavis & Butthead! (it really was a great show -- smart humor masquerading as stupid humor, a concept that a lot of people didn't get).

If you want to get just one Jello spoken word album to see what they're like, this is the best place to start. Like I said, it's diverse, it includes tons of funny stories as well as interesting observations and thought-out opinions about a shimload of brain-teasing issues (not a single track features the word "censorship" in the title!), and, best of all, it features a fantastic 27-minute piece called "Hellburbia" that examines the recent glut of school shootings.

And quit asking me if he's gay. How the hell would I know if the lisping sissy is gay or not?

Reader Comments

billsangry@aol.com
The cover art is lame. Otherwise it's an excellent listen..

anthony_nixon@hotmail.com
Jello Biafra is a hypocritical son of a bitch!!!

ratboymike@hotmail.com (Michael H)
Jello Biafra is NOT gay. He was married (which fell apart during the FRANKENCHRIST trial-I have pictures of his wedding) and the explanation was said on an episode of "Politically Incorrect" where Jello was talking about "Maximum Wage" in which he says he still can not afford to get his teeth fixed to this day. If you still think he's gay, read the Alternative Tentacles FAQ for yourself.

rkay51@hotmail.com
Never heard this record, but some rockin' trivia for you - before Frank Zappa died he said the only TV shows he would watch were Beavis and Butthead and the almighty Mystery Science Theater 3000. I know this isn't relevant, but I am writing an essay on digital copyright, it's not exciting. He was also asked which new bands he liked, and he said something along the lines of "none really...except this bunch of kids who wear monster masks when they play, they're called Mr. Bungle".

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The Big Ka-Boom, Part One - Alternative Tentacles 2002.
Rating = 8

A few days after September 11th, 2001, I was directed to visit Alternative Tentacles' web site and told that I would not believe the idiocy that I found there. And such was the case. As the front page opened, I saw what might be the most depressing comment on the intelligence of the young punk rock generation that I have ever seen (and that includes the responses to my Subhumans reviews). Right there on the front page read the statement: "Many people have written in asking what Jello thinks about the terrorist attacks."

Say that slowly to yourself. "Many people have written in asking what Jello thinks about the terrorist attacks." What exactly does it mean? Here's what it means: Punk rockers saw it on the news and were completely unable to figure out how they were SUPPOSED TO RESPOND. People are dead! That's bad! But... they were terminal preppies in the World Trade Center. So that's good! No but... pain was caused to people. That's bad! But... but the Pentagon was hit, and those are the guys I'm not supposed to like. So that's good! Oh, I can't figure it out on my own --- WWJD?

This short spoken word album is their answer. 34 minutes long, supposedly "rush released because of the time sensitivity" (so explain why it was recorded in early November and released in late April) and full of interesting facts, ideas and propaganda about the U.S. military reaction to the attacks. In a nutshell, Jello sympathizes with all who lost loved ones, understands that we need to protect ourselves and is well aware that this is an extremely complex situation. HOWEVER, he doesn't trust Bush or his team at all (wisely), wishes that all that money we're spending on the War on Terrorism would be spent on greater airline and domestic security and is fairly certain (again, wisely) that the more we piss off the Middle East, the more attacks there are going to be as the children of today become the young militants of tomorrow. He offers up some good ideas too - some from Michael Medved, others from Michael Moore and himself - including decommisioning and shutting down nuclear plants, ending sanctions against Iraq, pulling troops out of Saudi Arabia (ehh...this one I'm not so sure of - how the hell else are we gonna keep on eye on Saddam Hussein? Laugh all you want, but the man has proven himself to be a ruthless mass murderer) and buying weapons from the former Soviet states to make sure they don't end up in our enemies' hands. It's an interesting listen - he stays very focused on the political ramifications while not forgetting the human loss involved (at one point, he starts to say something negative about all the people "waving flags in anger and remorse," then stops himself and adds "...which you have to give them room for -- but war isn't the answer either!" He's a human being - he lost his sister. He's not just some blind mindless radical out there protesting just for the sake of presenting an opposing viewpoint. At NO point does he say anything inflammatory like "The Pentagon deserved it!," choosing instead to not to forsake his heart for the sake of his brain, concluding that the leaders of our corporations are purposely keeping other countries in poverty for their own personal gain, but that it's US that are paying for their crimes against humanity. US. I used to believe that corporations were just "a collection of people all trying to make ends meet," but now that I've experienced the corporate life for a while, I no longer believe AT ALL that this is the case. The people at the bottom are trying to make ends meet and lead a happy life, but the people at the top are greedy, evil, power-hungry, ruthless bastards who don't give a fuck about anything or anybody other than their own success. That's how they reach the top of the corporate ladder - there's no other way to do it. You can probably count the number of benevolent corporate CEOs in this country on one hand. And please don't fall for corporations that give a lot of money to charity -- this is a PR stunt that is as old as PR itself -- the idea is to curry the public's favor and make them think that you truly *CARE* so that they don't notice all the other shit you pull that proves you DON'T care. Everything is about cutting corners and keeping salaries as low as possible so that profit is achieved. It wouldn't even necessarily HAVE to be an evil system if there weren't so many heartless bastards in the business world. Read up on Kenneth Lay and his friends from Enron - check out the stuff those pricks did. Check out how they completely and PURPOSELY fucked over their own "little guys." I'd better stop writing now. I'm getting out of my league and also getting very angry. I'm not smart enough to know the answer to anything. Neither is Jello Biafra, but at least he bothers to read! All I read are rock bios and Feral House books. Oooooo!

Reader Comments

vita_min_man@yahoo.com
Jeez, Rear Admiral Prindle, you certainly show your age on this.

"Here's what it means: Punk rockers saw it on the news and were completely unable to figure out how they were SUPPOSED TO RESPOND." Duh. Have you seen these "punks" today? They have mohawks leather jackets, safety pins, etc...but they don't realize how they're dressing is old, overdone, and not shocking or different anymore. They do it because they think they're rebellious anarchists and listen to punk. My town has a collection of these puds. It's a bunch of 15 year olds who love the Dead Kennedy's, but they burn all their CD's. By doing that, they miss out on the lyrics, which criticizes them quite a bit, "Chickenshit Conformist..." They also never bother to branch out to any other sort of music or idealogies, it's 3 chords played fast with some guy screaming about anarchy. I bet the only they like the DK's is because of "Nazi Punks Fuck Off." "Oh Nazi's are bad, so I should hate them, so this song is good." Even though the song isn't about Hitler fanatics.

I've asked them why they have all these upside down American flag patches, and they're like "America's corrupt and it sucks." My oh my, it must have taken time to come to that conclusion. Maybe it's because they found out Barney the dinosaur was just a person in a suit.

There is no intelligence in today's "punk" scene. It's just another social group, not a movement. The music in today's scene is God awful too.

Get a hair cut and a damn job and stop having your mom pay for your mod clothes, you chodes.

zanzibarmcfate@excite.com (Sam)
I'd been meaning to write in aboot the genius of the DKs or CJs or the questionable genius of X for a while, but as usual, it's stuff that pisses me off that motivates me to get off my ass and, uh, sit down and write something.

I'm sick of all these old farts banging on about how punk kids these days have no respect for their elders. I was, very recently, a 15 year old who loved the Dead Kennedys, but somehow I still managed to explore other music and ideologies. After much thought, I came to the conclusion that while anarchism has a lot to say for itself, marx/socialism would probably work better.

And as for modern punk not being a proper movement, I'm so sorry that we haven't managed to match the glorious achievements of you guys when you brought down Reagan and started the glorious United States of Anarchy. Even the hippies got further than you, and at least the modern punk scene has connections to the great anti-war movement which is actually doing something.

So in conclusion, when people like vitamin man complain that punk died when they stopped sniffing glue and got a job, what they actually mean is that they're upset because dirty old men no longer lust after their sweet teenage asses.

Goddamn, punk kids nowadays sure do love whining. Next time i'll try and write in about something that people actually care about.

OSLANE@student.gvsu.edu
I half agree with you. Most punk rockers (past or present) are no more free thinkers than the people they rebel against and can't admit that the wear those funny clothes because they look cool and chicks like them. On the other hand I find it interesting hearing what my favorite entertainers have to say on issues, especially ones they specifically deal with. I don't have a strong opinion on Jello Biafra, he's usually entertaining and fun to listen to, occasionally antagonistic and I agree with lots of things he says.

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Machine Gun In The Clown's Hand - Alternative Tentacles 2002.
Rating = 8

Among the world's population, there are those who consider me a fool for giving Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra's spoken-word albums such high ratings. They argue that he does nothing but quote left-wing propoganda as if it were truth, without coming up with any opinions of his own. They chide me about his arrogance and enormous sense of self-worth (as evidenced on this CD by the disgustingly high-and-mighty conclusion, "Lots of people come up to me and say, 'You changed my life'! Maybe.... but now it's YOUR turn."). They accuse him of ripping off his own band members for two decades, then bald-facedly asking fans to donate their money NOT to humans right causes NOR to charities for the poor, but to the "Alternative Tentacles Legal Defense Fund" (because it's YOUR fault he lost the DKs back catalog, and without your help, there won't be any more Pachinko cds). They even casually mention Jello's ongoing attack on Tipper Gore who, by all accounts, has supposedly helped the needy a hell of a lot more than Jello has (In addition to charity work, I'm told that she donated all earnings from her book Picture This to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council).

But why look at the glass as half-empty when it is clearly only 49.7% empty? Even if Jello isn't the perfect liberal saint we all dreamt he would be, his spoken word albums DO bring important information and ideas to lots of people (myself included) who don't have time to click through every leftist webzine in the world in an ongoing fruitless search for "the Truth." (Did Scully and that scab ever find it, btw? I stopped watching the show shortly after the movie answered every question I've ever had about the conspiracy, completely depleting any interest I might have had in wasting an hour of my life every Sunday night when I could be praying). I've never been Mister Political by trade, but I've been keeping a close, vigilant eye on Washington (via those 3 or 4 daily headlines on Yahoo) ever since the terrorist things happened, and yikes is this a many-flavored society of lies and cover-ups in which we are dwelling. If Jello doesn't tell the kids, who will? Certainly not Henry Rollins, who'd rather talk about buying condoms at Rite-Aid and how cool Jesus is. And beyond those two, there aren't any punk spokespeople!

Except Tesco Vee, of course, who moderates regular C-Span debates on health care and social security.

This latest spoken-word triple-CD focuses on Bush's War Against Terror, with a few bonus tracks about the fake California energy crisis, Ralph Nader and the Ramones. You'll hear (A) things you already know! (B) things you didn't know! and (C) things that aren't true! Unfortunately, it's completely up to you to figure out which of Jello's bold facts come from reputable sources and which are just bullshit funnelled down through the Leftist Grapevine. It's also up to you to somehow find cleverness in such satirical personal affronts as "John Ashcrack," "Osama bin Werewolf" and "George Bushcraft." These things I cannae do for thee. I can only invite you to listen, nod your head knowingly and use Jello's words as a starting point -- a launchpad, if you will, from which you can take certain concepts and conduct further research on them to find out if the world is as corrupt as Lard's lead singer claims (and believe me -- it IS).

So yes, if you can treat this album as a one-stop shop for post-9/11 leftist commentary while keeping in mind that every argument is one-sided and of questionable origin, you'll likely find it to be an incredibly interesting resource. I know I did! And you know me -- I don't find just ANYTHING interesting! (*stares at mousepad for 45 minutes, wondering how they made it squishy yet firm at the same time*)

Reader Comments

robotica@rocketmail.com (Sir Adam Boysen)
the criticisms of Biafra by your readers seem legit, but here are a few more scandalous facts about him that I think the world needs to know...

1. Jello wears tighty whiteys.
2. He puts Beano on his salad.
3. He is not gay.

I think these revelations will be enough to convince you that you should no longer bother buying his albums, and instead spend the money on CDs by kid rappers. I have noticed you have NO reviews of kid rappers on here, and they are very popular these days. Don't you ever watch Apollo Kids?

levez@eperdu.net
Mouse mats are usually made with rubber that has tons and tons of gaps, in a honeycombed sort of way. A bit like corrugated cardboard and how that is stiff yet fairly yielding to being bent and twisted compared to a piece of thick card. In the case of the latter the corrugated helps cushion the contents inside.

Anonymous
More scandalous facts about Jello:

1. he likes catfish
2. he gets all his godawful clothes from thrift stores
3. he smells kind of funny (kind of like stale sex...)
4. he carries vials of chinese herbs
5. he names his cats after sci-fi characters
6. he has a ghetto refrigerator that's the color of diarrhea
7. he wears socks with little aliens on them
8. he almost never sleeps
9. he doesn't talk politics all the time
10. hypocrite or not, greedy asshole or not, he's one of the most interesting people I've ever met. And I would hang out with him again in a heartbeat.

And I mean it, he isn't gay.

I enjoy this album simply because I've seen it performed live three times now and I'll never forget the segment in which he mentions his girlfriend because the first time I'd seen that live, the moment he mentioned the phrase "my girlfriend", the whole audience (who had been cheering), suddenly went completely quiet. I mean, crickets and tumbleweeds quiet. And then I heard one person behind me whisper:

"I thought he was gay? This fucks up everything, man!"

I hope this ends the stupid letters of "IS HE GAY?!"

Because I assure you, he's taken, and the person who's taken him has a vagina. And she will proudly show you.

keep this anonymous, I don't want any idiot punkers emailing me with stupid questions.

ojdgjnfb8437@yahoo.com.au (Lou Siffer)
To the person above.

They say Pol Pot was a charming man in person, but that doesn't change the fact he had around 1,000,000 murdered.

Jello's stuff can be entertaining, but I can't believe people want him for president. By the way, you're right Prindle, Ian McKaye isn't a Jello Biafra.

esweenor@charter.net (Eric Sweenor)
I think this might be Jello's least enjoyable album. Perhaps I'm just too much into intelligent debate, but Jello, let's face it, don't back it up. Few, if any, of his claims on this album are supported by anything except - well, his claims. Yes, it's important to find out what a sham the "war on terror" and its inherent corruption is, but Jello, who always claimed he wanted to try to preach to others than the converted, is merely playing things here for the home crowd. He'd have some GREAT points, if only he provided the slightest proof. He needs to stick to providing evidence, not making baseless accusations, as much as I'd like to believe (and do, from other sources) his (deserved) attacks on the Bush regime's antics. Let's face it, aimless polemic doesn't help anyone's cause, and no one who doesn't already agree is going to think of Jello as anything more than a crank with his own record label.

Also, because he doesn't tell as many funny stories in addition to this, it gets a fairly low grade. The one about his Scandinavian-Minnesotan geometry teacher, however, is utterly hysterical. 6/10

bladeystyle@yahoo.com (Johnny Blades)
This is not in any way meant as disrespect to Jello Biafra or the Dead Kennedys in general, who remain among the greatest and most important figures in the history of punk rock, nor to the political left, which I am happy to count myself a member of. But I was blasting "Holiday in Cambodia" at work today when suddenly I realized that Jello's career path has a lot of oddly appropriate parallels to other typical left-wing quasi-Marxist rabblerousers. They all talked a good game about principles and values and equality and justice in the beginning, but when Jello finally got his career to a place where he had major clout in the punk/underground rock community, he became just like a Communist guerrilla whose revolution finally took over the country: he threw principle out the window, grew a gigantic ego, and gathered a cult of personality who were eager to kiss his ass at every opportunity. (Jello's cult of personality is called Alternative Tentacles.)

knowstev@med.umich.edu (Steven Knowlton)
Intrigued by comments on this page, I surfed over to Jello's homepage... what an ego! I love this statement: "Jello has added his endorsement to the campaign for Measure I, a local Berkeley initiative that is part of the March 2nd California elections." Who's Jello Biafra to "endorse" anything? Last I heard, his opinion had exactly as much force as anybody else writing a letter to the editor. Don't you have to win the confidence of the voters in your community to be able to "endorse" a public policy?

Add your thoughts?

Never Breathe What You Can't See (with The Melvins) - Alternative Tentacles 2004
Rating = 8

He's back! He's the man behind the mask - and he's out of control! Jello Biafra, former lead singer of the the Dead Milkmen and Nomeasho, has returned to the fore with an album of loud, heavy punkaroll songs drawn from the skinflints of Aberdeen, WA's The Melvins, a band of whom Kurt Cobain once said, "My wife paid someone to have me murdered."

But more importantly, what does Jello Biafra, former lead singer of Mojo Nixon, have on his mind this time around? Well, many things, including that guy from Tool guest star guitaring on four of these eight songs! But that's not lyrically orientitated. His lyrics, aghast, revolve mainly around George W. Bush's War On Terrorism and its detrimental effects on our civil liberties here in the U.S.A. (Uninformed, Stupid Assholes).

But who listens to lyrics for the words? No, the reason people enjoy the Melvins is the music! And this music is Jello Biafra-style! In fact, if not for the exciting lead guitar strangeness and soloing of that guy from Tool and Melvins drummer Dale Crover (who plays lead on two of the tracks not populated by that guy from Tool), you might very well mistake Quit Breathing My Air for another album by Lard or Jello Baifara with Dead On Arrival. The guitar chords are loud, heavy and chunky, the tempos alternate between midtempo churn and speedy punk rock, and just like with his other projects, Jello allows a couple of the songs to stand out in stark stylistic contrast to everything else he's ever done. See, he's got a set punk-metal songwriting style, but he's willing to give it the old swisharoo every once in a while - to great affect! (And passable Effect, as well) Remember "Bruce's Diary" from the Nomeansno album? That's what I'm talking about. HERE - on THIS album, the two most excitingly off-the-beaten tracks are (1) the cucamonga beach music of "Islamic Bomb," featuring a fantastic George Of The Jungle-style tribal beat and a familiar guitar tone that will have you frantically scanning the credits while screaming "Wait, I thought he HATED East Bay Ray!?, and (2) "Enchanted Thoughtfist," a light, non-metal, non-punk, heartfelt midtempo rock song in which Jello -- for the first time EVER? -- expresses a lack of confidence in his knowledge and public persona. It's still inexcusably arrogant, of course ("It always feels so strange when people tell me that I changed their lives -- now it's YOUR turn!"), but at least he admits his shortcomings and asks his fans to "Don't just question authority. Remember to question me!"

Presumably he meant this rhetorically, because I tried to question him and he told me to go fuck myself (metaphorically speaking). I know I've discussed this elsewhere on the site, but it bears repeating. Jello Biafra had agreed to do an interview with Caustic Truths magazine. The magazine editor said that I could conduct the interview. I contacted Alternative Tentacles and was informed that Jello had read my previous interviews with East Bay Ray and Klaus Flouride and didn't like my biased tone. I apologized, explained exactly why I'd made the mistakes I'd made, and gave some examples of the type of questions I wanted to ask, but to no availability. In the end, Jello Biafra had his assistant contact my publisher to request that a different interviewer be put on the case. My bad? Or his hypocritical? I'll leave that up to you, the occasional reader.

As for the record, it's a stone cold kicker of good times! It's definitely more Jello-sounding than Melvins-sounding though, so don't expect the same sort of difficult listening experience you might get from a normal Melvins release -- except for the final track, "Dawn Of The Locusts," which mixes distorted slide bass racket with a difficult crunching riff and speed-manipulated vocals to create an ugly UGLY song that basically DARES you to enjoy it. Elsewise, you're gonna find a bunch of straightforward chord-driven ass-kicking and '70s hard rock riffs (a la Buzz Osborne). As annoying as the final track is, as unnecessarily lengthy as "Islamic Bomb" is (it's a cool tune, but christ - six and a half minutes!?), and as Jello-cliched as some of the other riffs are (we all know he's used slight variations on the "Plethysmograph" and "The Lighter Side Of Global Terrorism" chord sequences before), I'd only call one of these eight tracks positively weak. That would be the boring midtempo trudger "Yuppie Cadillac," a bunch of lame sub-DK anti-SUV lyrics that sound more like the first 'anti-authority' writings of a 15-year-old punker than the product of a supposedly mature gentleman in his mid-40s. Otherwise, the guitar tones and layering sound magnificent, the lyrics are lots of fun ("The Lighter Side Of Global Terrorism" involves an airport security guard who gets sexual gratification from patting down women and forcing them to remove articles of clothing in the name of security; "Islamic Bomb" explores the fact that our defense department constantly sells weapons to Arab nations and then acts surprised when five years down the line they're suddenly a threat to US) and if you hate Biafra's voice, this release certainly isn't going to change your pants. But believe you me, if you're unfamiliar with the Melvins, check out my review page there at www.markprindle.com/melvinsa.htm and buy everything they've ever done! Even the really shitty ones that suck balls on purpose!

Rumor has it that the word "balls" appears on my site with startling regularity. The only explanation I can think of is that I use a lot of sports analogies.

For example, "On his latest album, legendary clean-up man Henry Rollins steps up to the plate, takes a long hard look at the pitcher, and knocks his hairy, smelly balls completely off of his body."

Reader Comments

nickpd@gmail.com (Nick Blinkle)
Actually, from what I heard (I think the Melvins' site maybe, I don't know.) Jello wanted to do "Melvins" style songs, but Buzzo already wrote all the music in a "Jello" style. So yeah. I pissed a little the other day and it burned. I think I have the clap.

mysteryroach69@hotmail.com (Beau Mihalek)
I drove up to Detroit to see the Melvins on September 11 and they pulled out Jello for the final four songs. They did Lighter Side of Global Terrorism, McGruff the Crime Dog, an updated California Uber Alles with lyrics about Schwarzenegger, and they closed with Moon Over Marin. Buzzo just completely nailed East Bay Ray's guitar tone, particularly on Marin. It was fucking beautiful.

As for the album, it does sound much more like a Jello album featuring the Melvins then a Melvins album featuring Jello, which kind of caught me off guard. I'm still not sure exactly what I think of it because of that, but your eight sounds fair. I think all the songs are great actually, they just go on for a bit too long.

Puyalluptroy@aol.com (Troy E. Anderson)
HE BEING JELLO DOES VERY WELL WITH THE MELVINS THEY ARE FAST AND VERY GOOD WHERE HE BEING JELLO BY MY VIEW WHO SAW HIM AND THEM 2TIMES IN SEATTLE 30TH AND NEW YEAR EVE THIS 2005 YEAR WILL BE A GREAT YEAR FOR JELLO AND THE MELVINS.

r26409@aol.com (Ralf)
Hey Mark,

I've just read your "Never Breathe What..." review. I'd like to stress that Jello DID question himself before by singing lines like "Seems like the more I think I know / The more I find I don't / Every answer opens up so many questions" on the DK's Bedtime For Democracy record. Although I generally agree with your comment on Jello's arrogance, I think "Where do you draw the line ?" was a great song with an important message.

Bob Royale
This is a good merger of two very different artists who's personality can tend to over-ride their listenability (not that either of them would care). Unfortunately, while steering the Melvins into a more traditional song arrangement sort of thing leads to a more immediately understandable arrangement of cool riffs and tones, Buzz's "who cares what the lyrics are" approach didn't get over to Jello to the point where you don't get sort of embarrassed with this cranked up and the windows down. Old Dead Kennedys is awesome, don't get me wrong- hell, I even like the sound of Jello's voice. But c'mon- Yuppie Caddilac? It's put together well, and the song SOUNDS good, but a tune bitching about rich people buying nice things? Hell, if any of my buddies were to win the lottery and didn't invite me over for some kangaroo races I would be pretty pissed off.

My gripes here would be more at home on the Melvins page, I definitely realize that- this is what Jello does, and we all know that going in. But would you really want to listen to an album of whoever you voted in the last election ham-fistedly try to kick ass on the guitar? That's what 99.9% of musicians' political opinions come across as- some dude just flailing around hoping that somewhere in a song they whack the shit out of the nail on the head and hoping everyone forgets about the horribly embarrassing mistakes that erupt around that one moment of inspiration.

Not that this albums sucks or anything, but while a song like Holiday in Cambodia was a good juxtaposition of middle classes in very different countries, McGruff the Crime Dog sounds like a liberal arts major in a Che T-shirt talkin' revolution over a kickass song with a couple beers in him. You can deal with it, but you sort of wish the guy would just shut up so you could listen to the song.

Take this with a grain of salt, I hate political music so I'm pretty far from impartial here.

Add your thoughts?


In The Grip Of Official Treason - Alternative Tentacles 2006
Rating = 8

When I heard that the Dead Kennedys' former vocalist had released a brand new triple-spoken-word CD, I was pretty excited because I love Brandon Cruz. Though disappointed upon learning the performer's true identity, I chose to bite into the sour apple and snag a copy anyway -- particularly since you can buy it for a butter bread on AT's web site. Seriously, you can purchase the entire 4-hour chit-chat set for an apple and an egg! If you pay an apple and an egg however, you do not also need to send in a butter bread. One or the other is fine.

It's nice to hear that even at his ripe old age, Jello's ire is as healthy as a fish in water, which I think we can all agree is very healthy indeed, or at least healthier than a fish in grain alcohol, which is putting itself at risk of liver disease or kidney failure. Yes, not a moment goes by when Mr. Biafra's not finding a hair in the soup, be it the War On Terrorism Soup, the FEMA Response to Hurricane Katrina Soup, or the Democrats Being Just As Selfish And Corrupt As The Republicans Gazpacho. I am not from yesterday, but it's amazing how much research Jello has done on these topics; his endless laundry list of atrocities committed by Republican scumbuckers like Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Dick Cheney and our troops in Iraq will have you biting on granite! Puppies do this as well, when teething.

I realize that Mr. Biafra too cooks only with water, but he is not without, nor is he about to go on number safe and walk like geese do in the face of such important issues as human rights and life and death. However, a few of his more 'performance'-oriented prose/poetry pieces -- particularly an unnecessary update of "Die For Oil, Sucker" and a straightforward reading of the Melvins song "Ass Clowns In Toyland" -- will probably drive you up a palm tree. "Fall with the door into the house!" you'll be shouting, from the top of the palm tree. Then, if he does so, you can climb down the palm tree, help him up from the floor, and speak with him. Following a brief discussion, you should feel free to solicit his assistance in the repair of your door, as the damage was partially his fault. Jello's constantly doing this.

Lest my efforts to properly describe the disc's content fall into the water with the healthy fish, let me do some bullet-pointing as our teachers once taught us, in school days:

- "Here's the way to get through to people that the War is wrong. Even somebody with an American flag on the back of their SUV will listen to this argument. And that is: The War on Terrorism, especially what we're doing in Iraq, is piss-poor military strategy!"

- "Road rage swine won't give up SUVs? By law, let's make YOU the first draftees! GO GET YOUR OWN GODDAMNED OIL!"

- "In 2002 in Georgia, everybody in the state was forced to use electronic voting machines with no paper trail, which Diebold claims is technologically impossible, even though their main bread and butter business is bank machines that dispense the cash and come up with a receipt."

- "Even our new Democratic stronghold Uzbekistan, one of these new allies in the War on Terror, has been caught by human rights organizations boiling prisoners alive."

- "Oh my god!! What's the latest on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's USELESS BABY!?!"

- "'Mission Accomplished! Bye!' How many of you know that he didn't do that on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf? He was off the coast of San Diego! They wasted a million dollars of fuel sailing that boat around and around in circles until Bush's media handlers decided the lighting was just right."

- "The Parks Service is now selling a book claiming that the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's Flood...."

- "Then Colin Powell has to walk the plank and go before the United Nations and do his best Stepin Fetchit imitation that he knows there's proof Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and this is as heavy-duty as the Cuban Missile Crisis because, 'Look! Here's an aerial photo of a blurry building in the desert!... But no! The proof is in the pudding! Lookit, there's WORDS with ARROWS pointing to various parts of the building! What more proof do you need!?'"

- "Opium cultivation went up 3000% after we invaded Afghanistan. So now a lot of the money we are giving them is for the Drug War. Drug eradication! $780 billion last year to wipe out the drugs! What annoys me about that was then seeing the second statistic that if we'd spent $600 billion and saved $180 billion, we could have just bought all the drugs and been done with it!"

- "And forget that your job may be off-shored at any moment, and our erections are being -- our ELECTIONS...."

And there's three more hours and 58 more minutes where that came from! Yes, Jello Biafra sure knows a lot about current events and how to convey this knowledge in a witty, angry manner, particularly when inspired by uproarious track titles like "Your Child Left Behind," "Iraqnophobia" and "And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Cash." If you go with the time, you may not need this CD to clue you in on what's really going on in today's Republican country, but if you're like me and get most of your news from movies of people taking a dump on each other, you'll be amazed at the things you'll learn!

In conclusion, I'd like to thank Mr. Prindle for allowing a mere blind passenger to craft this important entry on his web site. Until next time, keep your ears stiff!

And also your penis, but that's a joke. Ha ha!

(The preceding has been translated from the original German)

Reader Comments

spinaltomek@hotmail.com
For Those About To Totally Rule In Writing A Good And Witty Record Review, I Salute You!

cordings@ihug.co.nz (Harry the Dead Poet)
I love your reviews! Especially the obscenities and random digressions. I saw Jello in a "spoken word" show a few years back. He talked for nearly 3 hours before the interval and didn't tell me anything I hand't already read on the net. Then he asked the audience for donations toward his legal costs. Having bought a ticket, I decided I had already given enough. Your review brought back memories...ah, memories!

mindwalker@live.com
First of all, I have no idea how old your great reviews of Biafra's spoken word/punk spumoni albums, so this may have to relevance to your current life at all. However, they're still online, and they're still a great read. You have a rare wit that's rapier-sharp.

Now the interjection. Biafra makes me sick. This is a fairly recent development over the past ten years or so. It's been a devolution from a reasonably-cool guy into a raging hypocrite who looks more like Rush Limbaugh--and is as closed to the ideas of others. His spoken word efforst were interesting until Become The Media, at which point he didn't have anything to say that I didn't already know. Maybe his audience is smarter than he thinks, who knows. And then--on top of the ticket price for his "performances"--he has the gall to solicit donations. Right--he who, so I have read several times, lives in a 1.2 million dollar house in anything-but-cheap San Francisco. He who would have happily stripped his ex-bandmates naked and wound up getting bit in the ass himself. If he was really over Dead Kennedys and had no need for the old material, why the hell does he perform California Uber Alles, among other songs?

Hypocrisy. I can't stand hypocrisy. Now he's throwing some kind of musicgasm for his 50th birthday. I believe tickets are around $35. He's got all the financial acumen and ethics of a Caligula or a Nero.

I'm not going to ask if he's gay. I think we all believe what we believe, and that's as close as we're likely to get to the truth. I would like to point out however that just because he was married doesn't mean he's straight. I know of where I speak here. That marriage was over 20 years ago. Who knows where his pecker has wandered?

All right, back to you. You've written some really great reviews, stuff that has had me laughing out loud. Whatever I may think of Biafra, you made me laugh and you are therefore neat in my book.

Add your thoughts?


Jezebel 7" - Alternative Tentacles 2009
Rating = 5

Jello recorded this covers single with three members of Zen Guerilla. I've never heard either original, but apparently "Jezebel" is a Frankie Laine song and "Speed Demon" a Reverend Horton Heat ditty. Frankie Laine is a stranger to me, but if all his songs are as awful as this ugly three-chord shitbox, I'll stick to Paul McCartney's DENNY Laine, thanks! "Speed Demon," on the other side/hand, is a great splotch of fast punky fun with a holly jolly slide guitar solo tossed in for good measuring cups.

If your ultimate goal in life is to pay $4 for one good song, this single is poised to make all your yearnings and dreams reach cessation so that you may die.

Speaking of which, check out this great idea I had tonight: a new brand of beer called NON.

No no, hear me out! Here's the certain-to-succeed business plan: the product will be labeled "NON ALCOHOLIC BEER" and marketed solely to people fresh out of rehab. That way, they can fill the fridge with the shit, get fuckfaced all day long, slosh around, piss in the flowerpot, kick the baby in the head, and still be able to tell their wives, "What's the problem? It's NON ALCOHOLIC BEER!"

Yes, the future is truly an oyster when you climb aboard the Mark Prindle Express Of Innovativenesstivity!

Reader Comments

deniesehardesty@cox.net
Never heard anything by Laine. The Reverend Horton Heat's prett good though. Their normal albums have too much filler, but the comp. Lucky Seven is pretty good. You should check it out if you're in the mood for some punky rockabilly stuff.

Add your thoughts?


The Audacity Of Hype (with The Guantanamo School Of Medicine) - Alternative Tentacles 2009
Rating = 7

You know what gets my goat? An Indian restaurant, the fuckers!

No, but serially. You know what gets my goat? Have you seen all these movie remakes? Friday The 13th, Black Christmas, A Nightmare On Elm Street -- I mean, come on! Did these filmmakers honestly think that they were going to improve some of the most classic films of all time?

Because they DID! So now let me tell you what gets my goat. The fact that no authors have made the effort to remake some of our favorite classic novels! Come on, do you really think ANYBODY in their RIGHT MIND is going to sit through some old Geoffrey Chaucer bullshit? First of all it's in black and white, and secondly it's all filled with oldtimey gossip language -- sorry, "Daddy-o" but that's "not my bag"! So here are just a few ideas I've come up with:

Frankenstein by Stephenie Meyer
Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales by J.K. Rowling
The Diary Of Anne Frank by Jeff Kinney
Moby Dick by Jackie Collins
Heart Of Darkness by Dave Barry
Encyclopedia Brown And The Case Of The Disgusting Sneakers by Dan Brown
Ulysses by Kathie Lee Gifford
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Henry Rollins
The Bible by James Frey
Of Mice And Men by Rob Zombie

And finally us Kids of the Youth Generation can have some classics all our own! Get on it, Doubleday!

Jello Biafra has a new band called Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine, and they sound an awful lot like Jello Biafra & DOA or a less mechanical Lard. Like those projects, the guitars are toned for heavy metal, yet mainly play punk rock chords, and the tempos range from midtempo rock to uptempo headbang to high-speed punk The chord changes sound exactly like those that Jello has been writing his entire post-DKs career, and the best songs ("Electronic Plantation," "Strength Through Shopping" and "The Terror Of Tinytown") are differentiated only by the inclusion of East Bay Ray-style 'psycho-surf-rock' note lines.

In other words, there is no new ground being broken here. In fact, I doubt the ground even notices anybody's standing on it. Furthermore, there is a quality issue: seven of the nine songs are longer than four minutes, and they too often veer off into less interesting passages during their second halves, as if the band simply can't think up four consecutive minutes of memorable music. This aspect, combined with Jello's somewhat simple and predictable songwriting style, pretty much guarantees that the album won't appeal to anyone who doesn't already have a soft spot for his usual chord-driven punk-metal sound. Luckily, as can be surmised by the eight dots pictured above, I'm one of those very people! I LOVE THESE SIMPLE LITTLE PUNK-METAL ROCKERS!!!

Lyrically, Jello discusses such Jello-friendly topics as:

- Former U.S. President George W. Bush ("Condi, give me a blow"!? What are you, 12?)
- The sleazy sex lives of hypocritical politicians ("Republican buttocks flapping skyward in the wind"!? What are you, me?)
- Consumerism ("Give me convenience or give me death"!? I swear I've heard that somewhere before, from Jello Biafra)
- People being forced to work temp jobs with no benefits because all the permanent jobs have been outsourced ("You are all termites now"!? I swear I've heard that somewhere before, from Jello Biafra)
- NAFTA ("NAFTA GATT-cha"!? That's not a very good rhyme)
- Class warfare and cannibalism ("President peers out and says, 'Have you got some Grey Poupon?'"!? Way to keep those references current, Mr. Biafra!)
- Jello Biafra ("While everybody around me feels broken down and defeated, I feel this surge of energy/I wanna rock and roll, let my sick humor explode, smile as I set everything on fire!" You tell 'em, Jello! After all, you ran for MAYOR once!)

In conclusion, The Guantanamo School Of Medicine features vocalist Eric Boucher (Dead Kennedys), guitarist Ralph Spight (Victim's Family), bassist Billy Gould (Faith No More) and two guys I've never heard of and never will.

Reader Comments

joelperreault@live.com
I just saw this band live last night, and their tunes seem to translate a hair better in the live setting, what with Jello's requisite (and informative) between-song extras. They also played with 2 other Alternative Tentacles bands, M.I.A. (a great, reunited melodic hardcore band), and Triclops (loud, trippy punk with one hyperactive vocalist). Check it!

aldoenlasvegas@yahoo.com
I've been waiting for this record to come out for a while, and I have to say I feel a little disappointed. In what I consider to be a dishonest move in Jello's behalf, after announcing he finally has a his own band and he's going to be able to release a bunch of songs he had written in the past years, he releases an album with only 9 songs, 2 being older songs he wrote like 10 years ago. Don't get me wrong, I was very excited about the studio versions of "New Feudalism" and "Electronic Plantation", but that's not the real problem here.

See, this is not the first time Jello does this. In his Melvins collaboration, he also claimed in an interview that he had enough material for two records, but he really didn't. All he did is putting out two records with only one album worth of material. Anybody who visited his Myspace page, Wikipedia or many other sources, knows they had more songs, but instead of putting all of them in one CD, he just released a few, just like he did with "Never breathe What You Can't See", so he could also sell us "Sieg Howdy", with like 4 new songs only and a bunch of unnecesary remixes (filler).

Anyways, this is the tracklisting that Wikipedia was showing a few days before the CD came out:

1. "Terror of Tinytown"
2. "New Feudalism"
3. "Electronic Plantation"
4. "Panic Land"
5. "Strength Through Shopping"
6. "Three Strikes"
7. "Pets Eat Their Master"
8. "Victory Stinks"
9. "Cells That Will Not Die"
10. "Clean As A Thistle"
11. "Dot Com Montecarlo"
12. "I Won't Give Up"
13. "Miracle Penis Highway"
14. "Invasion of the Mind Snatchers"

So, when it finally came out and it only contained 9 songs, I felt like someone stole 5 songs from me.

That does not mean that I'm unhappy with the actual music on this CD, I find it to be pretty solid, and it's nice to hear Jello Biafra CD that has good sound quality. I only have some minor complains about the production, and that's the lack of presence of the bass and drums in the mix. Even when the sound is great, both guitars and Jello's vocals are a little too loud in the mix (listen to that cool dark intro to "Three Strikes", and then, when the song gets fast and both guitars come in, you can hear how much louder the guitars are). It's pretty much a waste to have such a great bass player as Bill Gould just to have him buried like that in the mix. Another thing that bothers me a little is Jello's vocals in "Clean As A Thistle", using that annoying "funny" "old guy from the south" vocal style he also used in some songs of "Never Breathe..." ("Lighter Side Of Global Terrorism" comes to mind) and also really poor vocal delivery in "I Won't Give Up" (boy he sounds really bad in this song, like trying to hit high notes that are not really there, probably would sound better using a lower register).

I don't want to be a pain in the eye and keep complaining, but I just wanted to take the negatives out of the way so I can focus on the album strengths, which are not few. Like I said before the sound quality is great, and tracks 3 to 8 are really good. I disagree with Mark when he says that the 'second parts' of the songs are uninteresting or boring. Iet's go through that song-by-song description that Mark loves so much:

1. The Terror Of Tinytown: An uptempo rocker with hints of pop.I don't think it's a great opener for the album, but it's still a good song.
2. Clean As A Thistle: I don't care for this song very much. Some "space-punk" effects in the guitars that I don't care about and that thing with Jello's singing style I was complaining before, makes a song that is already not very interesting, much harder for me to dig.
3. New Feudalism: This is where the CD starts getting really good! Fast metal-punker with surf-spy guitars DK style. Jello sounds great and I really like the riffs and the melodies, BAM! What else can I say?
4. Panic Land: Another great rocker that starts alright and gets more intense and interesting as it progresses.
5. Electronic Plantation: Another amazing song I was really looking forward the hear in studio. This song has a lot of atmosphere! More dark-spy-conspiracy-whatever style guitars and a solid melody make this song a classic!
6. Three Strikes: Strong speedy punker with a great melody, a cool intro and a mellow part in the middle with what sounds like clean guitars playing some traditional flamenco chords or something, really cool! (for you Mark, who have been spoiled by Jello all this years, do this little experiment: play a song by some of today's popular "punk rock' bands like sum 41 or Blink 182, and then listen to this song or you'll see how good it really is! You just got used to Jello writing great songs most the time.)
7. Strength Through Shopping: More "psycho-rock' guitars (like Mark likes to call it). A really great guitar line and intro to another soon to be classic uptempo dark rocker. It has a nice little Iron Maiden-sounding two guitar harmony line in the middle that makes a great song even better.
8. Pets Eat Their Master: Even when the band shamelessly recicles the "Let's Lynch The Landlord" bass riff, this is a very enjoyable tune with very interesting guitar interplay. This is the most DK sounding song of the record, maybe Jello was trying to prove that he was the one responsible for the Dead Kennedys sound? Anyways, like "I Am The Owl", "Goons Of Hazzard" and some other DK's songs, Jello sings some verses over the drums and bass, while there's little guitar licks in between his words. I like the part when the drums start to pound faster and the guitars play that little catchy riff from the intro, you feel me dog?
9. I Won't Give Up: It's a shame that this record has to end on such a low note, but this slow rocker, even when it's not actually BAD, sounds plain boring to my ears. I said 'slow' before? Well I meant midtempo, it's just slow compared to the rest of the CD. So the band decided to finish the album with Jello sounding bad while singing mostly over one boring bass line and midtempo cock-rock sounding drum beat, sometimes with no guitars in sight. When the guitars finally come in, they also play some boring hard-rock crap. I don't know, sounds more like Jello and his band trying to play a Motley Crue cover or something, should've been included in the 70 Rock Must Die Ep with Lard.

Overall a very good record who could use a couple more songs on it. I agree with Mark that it's not something 'groundbreaking', but it's very diverse for a punk rock album in my opinion. If I had a website, a wife and a cute dog, I would rate this release higher than the Melvins collaboration. THERE I SAID IT!

WSHutcheson@aol.com
Mark

Dont be so miserable, I saw the GSM at Sheffield having driven 240 miles, live they were brilliant, and they did Dotcom Montecarlo and I think Cells that will not Die and Invasion of Body Snatchers - three of the best songs live, so dont know why not on CD. I wont give up was shit live, but it was last song and gave time to recover.

Overall the band were tight, hard and way better than the DKs ever were (Im 46 so I know) and [layed half a dozen Kennedys classics but the new songs were right up there live. Jello still misses Ray (like Morrissey misses Marr and Mould/Hart were never same apart...)

Shame a lot of songs are 5 and more yearsold, with no go at Obama other than the title...

Should have been a 12 track CD, worth 8.5 out of 10. I wonder if another one, and another UK tour (they only played 3 dates) is coming soon, hope Jello lets Billy of FNM produce it next time..

Cheers

fatilux@live.com
I have something to add on Biafra's new album. I feel that he's really running out of creative ideas. This is a real low-point in my opinion. The collaborations with D.O.A., NOMEANSNO, MOJO NIXON and even with the MELVINS were all great to good, also from the artwork point of view. That's what's important as well. His album covers and inserts have always been great, but this one is just plain bad. The front cover... ok, but then you flip it around and have that space wasted on the mugs of his band members and bad design. The insert poster looks like a very poor remake of the "Bedtime For Democracy" album cover and on the other side, the lyric sheet has both - bad lyrics and bad layout. The words look like they've been printed out on a desktop printer from 15 years ago. The lyrics and song titles range from ok to just plain bad. "Strength Thru Shopping" and "I Won't Give Up"? Give me a break. I really wonder what went on when this thing was made. I bought all of Biafra's records each several times on several formats, just because they were really done well. But this one? I only got it today, several months after it has been released. I just don't get why this has been put out when he repeatedly stated that he cares so much about the quality of his stuff. This is real inferior to even his worst stuff. TUMOR CIRCUS was a weird record, but it had some bite and that's the problem with this thingy - it's not angry anymore, it gets close to self-parody. I like Biafra, what he's done is super important, but I don't worship this dick.

Add your thoughts?


Enhanced Methods of Questioning EP (with The Guantanamo School of Medicine) - Alternative Tentacles 2011
Rating = 3

All it takes is a quick glance at aldoenlasvegas@yahoo.com's reader comment under the last review to realize that this EP is nothing but five outtakes from The Audacity of Hype. Considering that even the songs that made the cut weren't exactly "groundbreaking" or "any good at all, to be honest," it was inevitable that a disc of leftovers would be the worst release in his catalog. I mean, it's literally just SONGS TOO SHITTY to be on the album!

When I saw this band perform live in late 2009, I couldn't help but notice that the three songs unfamiliar to me -- "Victory Stinks," "Dot Com Monte Carlo" and "The Cells That Will Not Die" -- were significantly more boring and pointless than the surrounding material. Where the LP tracks contained enough absolutely killer hooks to take the heat off the more middling passages, these songs seemed completely devoid of any melodic ideas at all. "Dot Com Monte Carlo" was at least FAST, but the other two didn't even have that going for them. They just seemed like shitty, plodding metal bores, like late-period DOA or something.

Well, my ears didn't deceive me.

Rock and roll had existed for over half a century when these songs were written. How on God's Smelly Ballsac could they have written songs this simplistic and obvious without feeling like a bunch of frauds and assholes? Are you SURE this guitarist used to be in Victim's Family!? Did he suffer a stroke in the interim!? How else could he have gone from noise that fucked-up to music this dumbed-down? Did they begin the session by saying "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the power chords of generica?" Because that'd be ah never mind

If you can hit yourself in the head with a clawhammer enough times to enjoy any of this throwaway garbage, more power to you. I like the speedy energy of "Dot Com Monte Carlo" and hypnotic driving beat of "Invasion of the Mind Snatchers," but the actual chord progressions are a big boring bore of boringness boring a bore in my boar.

On the positive side, the lyrics are pretty good! In these tracks, Jello turns his inky pen to:

- Silicon Valley yuppies ("Worship all these shitty indie-pop bands/Babies in cigar bars trying to play Gatsby")

- Faulty science ("Trait that is most poisonous/In a rock star ego scientist/Never, ever admit you're wrong")

- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ("Gulf War Syndrome, it's all in your mind/So take your medal, join the welfare line/We're lucky with all the experts we've trained/We've only had one Timothy McVeigh")

- Born Again Christians ("Six thousand years ago, we walked with dinosaurs/Then they drowned and went away 'cuz Noah's Ark was full")

- Bob Dole's Viagra commercial ("Now that my dick works, hey life is grand!/I'm not obsessed with all that power anymore/Instead of strangling Washington, I smile on your TV/If you want man-size happiness, then pop these pills with me")

Oh, but I haven't even got to the best part yet.

Are you ready for this?

Sit down; I don't think you're ready for this.

Seriously, are you ready for this?

Okay, now I think you're ready for this.

Here's the best part:

The unlisted bonus track:

AN EIGHTEEN-MINUTE IMPROVISATIONAL BLUES-FUNK-ROCK JAM

Okay, now scroll back up and look what artist page you're on again.

I think you see the problem.

It starts out innocently enough, with a slinky, creepy Deviants cover and Jello warbling through a distortion pedal. But less than two minutes in, the band suddenly turns into that awful late-period Rollins Band line-up, all funkin' it up like the stiffest '70s bar band in the universe. So what can Jello do but embrace his internal Rollins and give us a "Money Train"-style funk rap? But hundreds and hundreds of times more embarrassing and full of shit?

"I've been called a deviant since before I knew what that word meant. But looking back, deep down there was always something I dug about myself enough that I didn't care if I didn't fit in in certain ways -- enough not to become someone else just to make a few popular friends. Outcast among outcasts, but I was always comfortable there. Being a reject cuts two ways; I rejected most of school's straight people and what they had to offer. I knew there was more out there. I came alive at age 7 in '65 from the moment I heard rock and roll, felt like my brain grew wild. I learned quick that love songs and the magic of capitalism were all one big lie. Even as a punk, and before that a long-haired freak, I knew most importantly of all that I was me. I've been called a baby, a faggot, a burnout, a freak, a sellout - said by sellouts for not selling out. But there are times when I can't worry about what anyone else thinks. I just gotta do what's right - on Deviation Street. Yeah! Deviation Street means keeping a healthy distance from your own scene. Not worrying about bullshit, knowing what's actually real, being wickedly proud, even among your peers, of being really really weird. I've stood up to my own scene before, probably do it again. I don't care what the Internet says about me; I'm comfortable in my own skin! Still, it's been pretty lonely at times, wishing someone out there liked more of the stuff that I like. But that 10-cent Stooges 'Fun House' album no one would buy inspired me to follow my dreams, and sent chills down my spine! Down my spine! Down your spine! Yyyyeah!"

Then he continues for three more minutes before breaking into the worst version of "When The Music's Over" since every live Doors performance ever.

Reader Comments

Anthony Hansen
Your transcript of that Jello Biafra funk rap has made me hate Jello Biafra. I can't even begin to imagine how much worse it is set to music.

Sr.Aldo
Well, I have to say that I agree with Mark on this one. I would maybe give it a 4 or 5 since none of the songs are actually bad, but like he points out, they basically sound like outtakes. "Dot Com Monte Carlo" is pretty decent, at least it has an interesting chorus with that nice little guitar riff, and I kind of enjoy the Lard-sounding "Victory Stinks" even though I hate that fast part in the middle of the song (yeah, they actually managed to come up with a fast part that sucks, and that's not an easy task).

The rest of the stuff is just average and unexciting. "Mind Snatchers" main riff sounds like "Gaslight" from 'Live At The Deaf Club' but a lot more boring, and the lyrics sound like they were written in 10 minutes before laying down the vocals at the studio, without any concern for quality or even rhyme. Like I said before, at least there's no really bad songs on this one, like "Clean As A Thistle" or "I Won't Give Up".

I think Jello should think about replacing his band with a more interesting and creative outfit. I'm not familiar with the other members of the band except for Bill Gould, but it sounds a lot weaker than most of Jello's collaborations. I don't know if the band is to blame for this, but I have the feeling that the music sounds a lot less angry and extreme than what I was used to with Jello Biafra, like you can hear some pop and goodtimey rock'n'roll influences that you could rarely hear in his previous records (listen to the chorus of "Mind Snatchers" for further proof. Yuck!).

I recently heard an interview with Jello, and he said that he put out 2 CDs instead of one, because he wanted to keep it "mean and lean" or something like that, and he didn't want the songs to be crammed all together and sound like a bunch of filler "when they obviously aren't", so if you take in account that some Dead Kennedys records had 13, 14 and even 21 songs, it would be safe to say that even Jello himself had very little faith in this new release.

Anyways, I already burnt both records on a CD and left out "Clean As A Thistle", "I won't Give Up" and of course "Deviation Street". It makes a much more enjoyable listen.

Add your thoughts?

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