Mutiny On The Bay Import
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The live collection Mutiny on the Bay is an unnecessary afterthought; more rebellion turned into money. Which is a shame, really, because the Dead Kennedys are, to this day, pretty much a holy grail in the annals of punk folklore. Their iconic status comes with good reason: their mighty debut, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables was one of the most concise punk statements of all time, a helium-voiced Biafra playing the role of savage, dictatorial satirist, presiding over a savage collision of Sex Pistols-derived riffs and proto-hardcore dynamics. But the trouble with acrimonious break-ups is that record-company barrel-scraping tends to corrupt such definite articles; this live compilation, Mutiny on the Bay, is apparently constructed from the vaults without the consent of Biafra, and while the hits are here intact--"California Uber Alles", "Police Truck" and "Too Drunk to F**k"--the impression this piecemeal style gives is not one of back-catalogue sifting, but of shoddy sequencing. Besides, what can this really offer that the essential originals lack? Even in the studio, the Kennedys performed so raw, fast and loud, they might as well be right there in the room with you. --Louis Pattison
The hook is the material being taken from Bay Area appearances, but the editing eliminates any substantial dialogue from Jello Biafra - which propelled the shows to incredible performance art - and yanks the audience out of the mix. The sterility (if by happenstance or intended) may bring into focus the work of East Bay Ray (g), Klaus Flouride (b) and D.H. Peligro (d), but a powerful edginess is lost. A lack of liner notes is a hindrance, since new fans cannot get an understanding of the professional and personal drama the band members were going through as the calendar flipped to 1986.
Perhaps not the "cash grab" as so many critics have called it, the first "authorized" live CD provides a cup of water...though a flowing river is clearly in plain sight.
Maybe it's not the other three who are greedy, but Jello. Maybe he thinks he's won all the marbles and can act like a conceited brat, take his ball and bat home and console himself that he's taken some oath of poverty nobody asked him to (after all, punk was *invented* by The Ramones, who recorded for Sire, a major label). But, then again, the Ramones were all about having a good time, not lecturing people like the didactic Jello always did.
However, on the other hand, some critics are totally right that Jello's harangues should have been left in: His early between-the-song speeches were acid, biting and sometimes right-on target. I too get the "something is missing" feeling from this CD. The performances aren't so hot, but that was de rigeur for DKs. If you think this is bad, check out the bootleg "Dead Kennedys Live From Germany," a way better disc (casette, actually).
There are too many apparent "flame" reviews, though, which I believe originated from people who subscribe to AT's email list. In almost *every* email newsletter, it's whine, whine, whine about "unauthorized" DK CDs, concerts, etc. But, from listening to the DK stuff, Jello doesn't sound that concerned about property rights anyhow. Neither does the drivel coming out of the mouth of his hero Noam Chomsky -- a staple of ATs spoken word lineup -- so who's the hypocrite now? Maybe Jello, too, should get a life, and stop behaving like the Bill Gates of the punk rock movement.