Belvedere Jehosophat - Wednesday, 19 February 2003
I am going to review Mutiny on the Bay by the Dead Kennedys because it is my least favourite Dead Kennedys CD.
Dead Kennedys - Mutiny on the Bay
I put off buying this sucker (and the last three Dead Kennedys studio albums) for as long as I could because I was disappointed that none of the royalties would be going to Jello Biafra (there's a whole story behind this that I won't get into).
I am also wary of buying CDs that have been re-mastered. This is because re-mastering tends to suck the soul out of the music.
Incidentally, this also happens when movies are colourised. The worst example of which is the colourised version of the Frank Sinatra movie 'Suddenly', in which they gave 'Ol' Blues Eyes' brown eyes.
There are 13 songs on the album not including a 22 second introduction by some guy.
It's unfortunate that none of the songs from 'Bedtime for Democracy' made it onto the album. Outside of that, the song selection is pretty good with four songs from 'Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables', three from 'Plastic Surgery Disasters', four from 'Frankenchrist', and two from the compilation CD 'Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death'. Most of the 'hits' are played.
The sound quality of the CD is pretty good considering that it's taken from four different concerts. Punk live albums are also notorious for their shitty quality. Me, I don't care, I likes me music lo-fi and I's would have been just as happy with a worse quality recording.
What really makes the album are the little political diatribes that Jello Biafra delivers in between the songs. The rants serve as an introduction to the song but more importantly they expand on the topics that he sings about. He also alters the lyrics in some of the songs, which is pretty exciting. The lyrics in 'California Über Alles' make reference to Ronald Reagan instead of Jerry Brown a la 'We've Got A Bigger Problem Now'.
The stand out tracks are 'Too Drunk to Fuck', 'This Could Be Anywhere', 'Goons Of Hazzard', 'I Am The Owl' and 'Riot'.
My main complaint about the album is that it's not a recording of one entire concert but rather songs from four separate concerts (between '82 & '86) made to sound like one.
Normally this wouldn't bother me but it's just that the chronological order in which the songs are put on the CD is atrocious.
I'll explain: The first song that the Kennedys play is called 'Police Truck', however, Jello Biafra is clearly out of breath while singing it. I can only assume that the song was played towards the end of the concert that it's taken from.
It's a weird listen because Jello Biafra's voice sometimes gets better towards the end of the recording. It probably would have sounded more natural if the songs had been put on the CD in the reverse order to which they are but I think that they wanted to make it sound like the band encored with 'Riot'.
The booklet also has several pictures of assorted Dead Kennedys concerts. Judging by the pictures I can only imagine that the concerts would have been terrifying affairs. It includes this picture, which, I suspect, might be the wildest picture of a live concert ever. Ever. Actually, the picture in the booklet is missing everything to the right of Jello Biafra. I found the complete one somewhere on the net.
The album also has this little snippet of dialogue, which is an exchange between East Bay Ray and, I think, a reporter:
Reporter: "Isn't a Dead Kennedys concert on 22 November anniversary of JFK's assassination in rather bad taste?"
East Bay Ray: "Of course. But the assassinations weren't too tasteful either".
Woo hoo! Comedy gold.
When I mentioned that it was my least favourite Dead Kennedys CD I didn't mean that it wasn't good or worth purchasing but rather that the studio albums and 'Give Me Convenience' are better. Chances are that you can pick up the album for about 20 bucks. It's certainly well worth that price especially if you are just after a taste of what the Dead Kennedys sounded like live. I am certain that there are far better live Dead Kennedys bootlegs out there. I am also certain they are probably considerately more expensive than 20 bucks.
By the by, if anyone is reading this review and is deriding me for being a sell out (Jello Biafra didn't want this album released or the previous Dead Kennedys albums re-released) then you can eat a bowl of dick. Yeah, it sucks that Jello isn't getting any royalties and that the other band members are acting greedy but where do ya draw the line? At what point are these petty politics more important than the music?