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Machine Gun In the Clown's Hand

Jello Biafra

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Album Review

This three-disc spoken word album features material recorded during Jello Biafra's live performances in 2000-2002. It expands on his comments on the war on terrorism offered in The Big Ka-Boom, Pt. 1 and provides remarks on other topics including California's energy crisis, Florida's voting problems, and Joey Ramone. It's not particularly mystifying that this album lasts for over three hours, since Biafra has plenty of strong opinions and sometimes seems like he could continue talking indefinitely. The question, however, is who would want to listen to the entirety of these three discs, particularly considering the topical nature of some of his comments. In addition to die-hard fans who want to hear all of his recordings, the likely candidates include kindred spirits who want to hear someone express a mostly left-wing view of current events with both conviction and humor. Biafra is an enthusiastic speaker and he seems to have done his homework. He makes several observations about global affairs and public policy that are trenchant, if not necessarily original, and sometimes expresses opinions that don't conform to the stereotypical view of him as a punk anarchist (e.g., he is in favor of placing police officers on airplanes to ensure their safety). He also expresses some paranoid theories that conform to this stereotype, has a tendency to make snide remarks that are neither elucidating nor particularly funny, and gets overly didactic at times (particularly considering that he is probably preaching to the converted at most of his live appearances). Furthermore, he's not very good at impersonating voices, although he manages to get some mileage out of a Norwegian accent (in one of the few routines on this album that is more straightforward comedy than a political rant). But at least he has something to say and encourages people to learn more for themselves.

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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Machine Gun In the Clown's Hand, Jello Biafra
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