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If Evolution Is Outlawed Only Outlaws Will Evolve
If Evolution Is Outlawed Only Outlaws Will Evolve
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5.0 out of 5 stars Once an Outlaw, January 20, 2011
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Recorded from April 1996 to July 1998 and released in October 1998, the 3-CD set that clocks in at 196 minutes is the best sample of Jello Biafra's spoken word style and vast biting commentary on social/pop culture topics that never seem to go away, but are repackaged by advertisers for the next generation of consumers.

Humorous passages on serious issues like war, entertainment as news, the prison-industrial complex and the corporatization of public school systems are not brief pauses in the action, but the shaking of the foundation constructed by the political puppets with seismic waves of powerful truth. The standout is the 26:02 "The New Soviet Union," with the theater of the absurd in full gear when Biafra discusses the plights of a meteorologist who rained on Rush Limbaugh's picnic and concert promoter who had to deal with an angry festival advertiser after a balloon busted.

If it wasn't so real - and true - we could have a good laugh.

Darling's Out of Cocktail
Darling's Out of Cocktail
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real Cool Time, January 19, 2011
This Nick Lamagna project during a hiatus from RF7 never really got rolling after the CD was released in 1996, which just shows how those big label woes can trickle down into the alternative scene.

Drawing on the sounds of Lou Reed and the Berlin nights of Iggy Pop, the songs crash the dizzying party of consumerism ("Ugliness can make you kind," "Mass Mind Control," the audio montage of "Mass Mind Control" [part 2]), desperation ("Liquor and Weapons," "Drunk and useless") and pop culture (the title track, "No more Choruses").

"Join me in Nowhere" is the standout and fitting tenth and final track, since it seems to be the place where quality artists meet when hip fans sip watered-down drinks and willingly dance to the same boring beat.

Thrasher Magazine Presents: Skate Rock 12
Thrasher Magazine Presents: Skate Rock 12
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5.0 out of 5 stars People Have the Power, January 18, 2011
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Thrasher magazine may not have invented skate punk, but the 11-volume compilation tapes from 1983 to 1993 defined the skateboarding culture. After an absence of a dozen years, this Volume 12 DualDisc emerged to capture the hardcore/skateboard sound in the new century, along with chronicling the history of the scene in a movie and wealth of extra features.

The 20-track CD clocks in at nearly one hour and is highlighted by the live tracks from Alkaline Trio ("Prevent This Tragedy") and U.S.S.R. ("Doom Tomb"), along with the black metal of Leviathan in "The Third Blind Wound." Only Crime is the only group with two cuts ("Another Lie" and the previously released "To the Nines"), while S.T.R.E.E.T.S. - "Stop the Violence" - makes a call for peace and understanding. Highlights from Turbonegro's raucous gig at the S.O.T.Y. party - where Euroboy becomes a man - and a Skaterock archival retrospective are cool gems on the DVD disc.

Power to the people.

Mob Action Against the State
Mob Action Against the State
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Get Caught, January 17, 2011
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The collection - a collaboration between AK Press and Alternative Tentacles Records - is from a series of book fairs and features 13 artists from numerous fields. It is a companion 2-CD set to an abridged book of the speeches.

Though there is poetry, magazine and book readings - along with spoken word performances that range from serious to hilarious - it is not a starting point for those without a foundation in the political philosophy. Barry Pateman's four parts - "Anarchist Tension" - are the highlights, as he brings the sad voices from the desperate streets and does not hesitate to take critical aim at these intellectual endeavors, which are thick in theory and often lacking in practicality. Craig O'Hara has a classic tale of meeting an old punk friend who is now in law enforcement, though Elizabeth Martinez falls short while trying to deliver sly wit during "Anarchist Chicana Women in History."

Released in January 2003, it remains interesting and thought-provoking due to the continued demonization of the many traditions in the historical movement.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 7, 2013 7:40 AM PDT

High Priest of Harmful Matter
High Priest of Harmful Matter
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5.0 out of 5 stars Know Your Rights, January 16, 2011
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Jello Biafra is in outstanding form on the three spoken word pieces which find him delivering pointed commentary on his First Amendment trial surrounding "Work 219," death squads and Ollie North, and government censorship in the media, music and politics.

The bizarre comedy in "Tales From The Trial" is solid, but the connecting of the dots in "Talk on Censorship" is the chilling highlight. A laughing audience member during "Intro - Love American Death Squad Style" makes Biafra briefly angry - he was discussing the sordid work by death squad members - but actually gets him particularly focused on powerfully delivering the sickening details.

Though released in 1989, the nearly 97 minutes has uncanny timeliness, since Biafra has a grasp on the game of puppeteers and puppets on the national/international chessboard.

Blood Brothers
Blood Brothers
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tentative Beginnings, January 15, 2011
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This review is from: Blood Brothers (Audio CD)
It is surprising that Rob Tyner only had one solo release before passing away from a heart attack in September 1991 at age 46.

The 1990 album culminated a long and rocky trail of around 15 years where Tyner had several projects stall because he could not secure a recording contract. He ultimately started spending considerable time on charitable causes and assisting up-and-coming bands, before giving it one more shot. The place to start is the final track - a lenghty promotional interview - where Tyner discusses his career, the production of the album and his future plans, since his enthusiasm and optimism puts a nice twist on these initial tentative steps in the comeback.

The arrangements by Joey Gaydos are disappointing, since they mostly fall flat in the pack of the radio-friendly heavy metal sound of the era, though "Let's Rock" comes close to capturing the MC5 sound. The standouts are the retrospective "Grande Days," solid rocker "Taboo" and bitter aftermath after taking on the system in "Renegade." "Disturbing the Peace" is simply silly and "Taking on the Night" can be explained away as a generic template to find traction in the national FM scene.

Tyner had big plans for the 1990s, which included touring with former Blackfoot drummer/percussionist Jakson Spires. Sadly, what could have been remains open to speculation.

Live From the Battle in Seattle
Live From the Battle in Seattle
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fantastic Four, January 14, 2011
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The short-lived punk/grunge "supergroup" of co-founders Jello Biafra (v) and Krist Novoselic (b) - with Kim Thayil (g) and Gina Mainwal (d) - provided a December 1, 1999, spoken word and musical report card on the WTO meeting in Seattle.

Biafra kicked off the energetic set with the spoken word "Battle in Seattle," which finds him briefly expanding on a shouted comment from someone in the audience. Thayil sizzles on the Dead Kennedys' classic "Let's Lynch the Landlord." A pair of Biafra-penned songs for the event - "New Feudalism" and "Electronic Plantation" - in no way prepares the listener for the jaw-dropping sonic attack of "Full Metal Jackoff," (it first appeared on the Biafra project with D.O.A.) which is a stunning feedback assault by Thayil.

A lengthy booklet has essays from Biafra and Novoselic, along with a wealth of information that retains relevance. Biafra stresses throughout the "serf music" that there is hard work remaining for the voice of the people to be heard....the struggle continues today.

Terminal City Ricochet: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Terminal City Ricochet: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sending Out a Message, January 13, 2011
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Before the movie was released on DVD, this soundtrack on Alternative Tentacles Records was essentially a "stand alone;" though the dark comedy on the merging of politics and consumerism garnered solid reviews on the festival circuit, it rarely aired on TV.

The dozen tracks lean heavily on Jello Biafra - who stars in the picture - and D.O.A., but the real gems are a trifecta from Evan Johns & The H-Bombs ("Madhouse," which has elements from the best of the early Stooges), NoMeansNo ("It's Catching Up") and The Groovaholics ("Pull the Trigger, Sunshine!"). Keith LeBlanc and Biafra team up for the hilarious and eerie "Message From Our Sponsor/Object-Subject," which aptly describes the struggle for personal freedom from the government jackals who yearn to smash it all for "national security." The other performers are The Beatings, Gerry Hannah, Art Bergmann and I, Braineater.

That the album remains in print demonstrates the strong feelings Biafra still has for this project....that there is a growing urgency in the theme presented by the artists clearly demonstrates something else.

Stations of the Crass
Stations of the Crass
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wealth from Knowledge, January 12, 2011
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This review is from: Stations of the Crass (Audio CD)
The essence of the anarcho-punk movement is found in the second release by a band who was as honest to their fans as they were to themselves. This is no posturing for the suits looking to greedily bank cash from chaos, but observations from the gritty streets, boarded up storefronts and declining neighborhoods as dreams turn to dust in any era.

With the avant-garde vision of Sun Ra, sonic power of the MC5 and poetic lines worthy of the Beat Generation, the CD was originally released as a 2-album set; three sides recorded in the studio four days after the concert tracks, which was side four. The incredible bluntness and wealth of timeless issues covered seem to be summarized when Steve Ignorant belts out: "They said that we were trash/Well the name is Crass, not Clash."

Working class hero, indeed.

Chernobyl: Endless Tragedy
Chernobyl: Endless Tragedy
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious Project in Music and Spoken Word, January 11, 2011
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Released around the tenth anniversary of the nuclear disaster, the merging of music, spoken word and art makes this an even more ambitious project than the one issued on a multi-album set by MUSE nearly 20 years before, while covering more political territory through the use of bands and activists.

Each band is featured in artwork that's included in a bulky booklet that also has short biographical essays on a number of the activists, including Noam Chomsky and Harvey Wasserman. The most intriguing selection is "The Way Things Are" from Schwartzeneggar, which was co-founded by former Crass vocalist Steve Ignorant. A short interview of Jello Biafra has particular meaning, since he discusses the need for people to tune out inflammatory rhetoric and find ways to work together for the common good.

The CD is split into two sections; music that is often interspersed with dialogue and interview excerpts from activists that are "woven" together. The latter jumps like very short chapters in a book providing a quick overview, hence there is choppy momentum within this format. A number of the controversial issues covered are still being debated today, which may be the biggest tragedy of them all.

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