This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Prairie Home Invasion

Ever since Jello Biafra was attacked by thugs who made MaximumRockNRoll seem like Tiger Beat, he hasn't really been able to perform, at least up to his own standards. When he fronted Dead Kennedys, he was a hellcat prowling the stage, seeming like a rubber band coated in sulfuric acid ready to snap in the eye of any given audience member. After his assault gave him a limp, he came to the conclusion that just because people would pay to see him sing in a rock band doesn't mean that he should charge to that effect. After all, he couldn't give the all he had always given, so why make people pay to see some gimp hobble and warble?

In a lot of ways, his insistence on purity and credibility is more than a bit annoying to those of us who don't give a fuck and just want to see our hero belt out songs. You think Dean Martin fans give a shit when he got fat(ter) and old(er)? Hell no.

Anyway, it meant that his musical output was limited to collaborations with existing bands, and he's done quality work with DOA, NoMeansNo, the Ministry, and the Melvins. There was one, though, that was left field even by Jello's standards. He did a record with Mojo Nixon & the Toadliquors, and it might be the best alt-country album of all time. Yes, I include Uncle Tupelo and Lucero in that statement.

It's a rollicking, rocking romp through country's past, done up with a punk rock piss-take puking all over everything. How else would you describe a version of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" being redone as a pro-choice anthem called "Will the Fetus Be Aborted"? Jello never was subtle in his targets, but at least it's not all one-sided ranting. "Love Me, I'm Liberal" updates the Phil Ochs classic for the age of the Tipper Gores and Hillary Clintons, i.e. just because you grew up listening to the Jefferson Airplane doesn't mean you're any less of the problem or any more of the solution.

The most venom is saved for Jello's own generation, though. At the time this record was released, many of the former punk/hardcore/indie icons of the 80's were adopting the mantle of "alternative" in order to sell records. "Buy My Snake Oil" is a winding, 9-minute screed against "boring white music for boring white people" that whines about how much "life sucks 'cause it ain't easy." It's been 13 years since the song was written, and it could just as easily be about whiny gasbags like Thursday or My Chemical Romance. The fact that's a barrelhouse country-rock songs makes it all the better.

I guess my only complaint would be that Mojo's personality doesn't really get to shine as much as it does on his solo records. "Let's Go Burn Ole Nashville Down" and "Are You Drinkin' With Me, Jesus?" get close to Mojo's subversive take on country music, but it seems odd pitting funny songs up against Jello's sardonic rants, but it does work. I guess you have to hear "Burgers of Wrath" and "Mascot Mania" together to see how they fit together.

For people who wondered what it would be like if Merle Haggard had sung about beating up people at the country club.

Buy My Snake Oil:

Love Me, I'm Liberal!:

Are You Drinkin' With Me Jesus?:


Post a Comment

<< Home