Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jello Biafra with NoMeansNo: The Sky is Falling and I Want My Mommy

Review # 47
Artist: Jello Biafra with NoMeansNo
Title:The Sky is Falling and I Want My Mommy
Format: LP
Label: Alternative Tentacles
Year: 1991
Songs: 8

Former Dead Kennedys front man Jello Biafra has been involved in several projects since the disintegration of the punk pioneers that were the DKs. Some of these have been collaborations with other bands (e.g. Mojo Nixon), and of all of those, this is probably my favorite. It's probably in part because NoMeansNo was the first real punk rock band I ever saw, and as such, hold a special place in my heart. I'll go into that more when I review some NoMeansNo records, but suffice as to say, I'm biased in favor of this particular release.

Personal biases aside, there are a lot aspects of this record that make it an outstanding collaboration. To begin with, Jello is in top form. If you like his vocals and lyrics, there's nothing not to like here.  He manages, as he often does, to write songs which are both topical and durable. They often deal with specific events taking place at the time they were written (for example, the use of plutonium on space shuttles, one of the first issues to catch my attention as a budding young activist in high school) but also contain insightful and often sarcastic lines that are, sadly, just as relevant today as they were 20 years ago. My personal favorite from this record: "your lack of curiosity is the key to our success," a line which could characterize the thinking of most politicians and corporate executives today. As always Jello is snarky, political, sarcastic, and frantic, all delivered in his trademark high-pitched lisp. "Our whole economy is based on fear and death!" he shouts in "Sharks in the Gene Pool. "How long can this go on? And we live here!" Topics on this record range from consumerism, media critiques, the military industrial complex, to the war on drugs. Jello pulls out all the stops.

NoMeansNo is in good form here as well. If you aren't familiar with this long-running Canadian punk band, they play some of the most interesting and innovative hardcore music ever recorded. From the intense chunky rhythms of the title track, to the insane riffage of "Ride the Plume" and "Chew," to the frantic, almost "Flight of the Bumblebee" like guitar lines on "Sharks in the Gene Pool," there is not a bad song on this record. "Bruce's Diary" is among the most interesting tracks, with a catchy tune and a horn section providing an almost loungey feel at times. The album concludes with "The Myth is Real -- Let's Eat," which is perhaps the most Dead Kennedy-esque song on the record, but still holds firm to NoMeansNo's own style. It's just great.

This record is an absolute must for any fan of either the Dead Kennedys or NoMeansNo. My only complaint is that there is no booklet or poster with lyrics on it, but I got this second-hand, so it may just be that the previous owner misplaced it. Maybe it's just because I'm so happy to be reviewing punk rock again after so many other kinds of records, but this record is just fantastic.

Total songs listened: 592

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