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Prairie Home Invasion

Jello Biafra & Mojo Nixon

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Album Review

Putting two legends of truly countercultural spirit together simply had to produce something of genius, and though Mojo Nixon's dropped a couple of hints since then that things weren't as cool as they could be, Invasion is nonetheless a fine fusion of Jello's deranged nerviness and Nixon's rootsy attitude. With Nixon's backing band, the Toadliquors, on hand to provide the rest of the cowpunk, honky tonk music, the two come out fighting with "Buy My Snake Oil," Jello's rip into early-'90s alternative culture, and don't let up. Pete "Wet Dawg" Gordon's piano work definitely deserves to be singled out — check the opening break on "Where Are We Gonna Work" — and Mike "Wild" Middleton's drumming doesn't let up once. One of the sharper things about Invasion is its sense of protest roots; almost half the songs are from earlier musicians or public domain folk songs, sometimes more picturesque, like "Convoy in the Sky," but other times slotting alongside Jello and Nixon's work perfectly. Phil Ochs' brilliant slam on fuzzy left-leaners, "Love Me, I'm a Liberal," gets a topically updated revamp, while the album's lead single revamps an old standard into "Will the Fetus Be Aborted?." As for the lead performers' own work, ultimately this is more Nixon's show than Biafra's. The latter definitely has the spirit for this effort, taking the majority of the lead vocals, but Nixon has the better voice for the proceedings, while his guitar kicks butt and takes names. The artwork for Invasion deserves special mention, too: besides a hilarious back photo of Jello and Nixon re-enacting Grant Wood's "American Gothic," the veritable explosion of news stories detailing business and government idiocies, random ad images, and snippets of Tom Tomorrow's "This Modern World" comic strip, is enough to make anyone reject mass culture in a second.

Biography

Born: 17 June 1958 in Boulder, CO

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Following the demise of the Dead Kennedys in the wake of the financial and emotional disaster that was their 1986 obscenity trial, vocalist and free-speech icon Jello Biafra launched a solo career, devoting some of his releases to spoken word observations on American culture and politics and others to collaborative efforts with several bands. Biafra was born Eric Boucher in Boulder, Colorado, and began collecting odd records in high school. He moved to San Francisco and took his stage name from the...
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Prairie Home Invasion, Jello Biafra
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