Jello Biafra's renegade lectures on American politics and culture are, for some reason, more endearing and interesting than the often tongue-in-cheek scrawled criticism that leaked out of his early '80s punk venture the Dead Kennedys. The creative expression of his early years had its base in the idea that if the Ramones could do it, anyone could. That was mixed down with a kind of hide-and-seek game of intelligence and acuity. Sometimes you've got it; the rest of the time you can fake it -- or let 'em think you're just being an enigma. But that bout with being a pop culture icon has taught Biafra well, and even brought his skill and wit as a critic-at-large up a few levels.
This three-CD set is a sharp and humorous commentary take on Seinfeld, welfare, nuclear fallout, teen suicide, corruption in the Pentagon, AIDS, Tipper stickers, William Bennett and Mumia Abu-Jamal. And that's just a small sampling of Biafra's lispy insights. His "spoken word" pieces should never be mistaken for poetry, and he busts no embarrassing rhymes. But the live segments do come complete with applause and shout-outs from audience members, who share the high that comes from shred-ups like "Clinton Comes to Long Beach," "The New Soviet Union," "Wake Up and Smell the Noise" and several "Talks on Censorship," which is still Biafra's issue of choice. Half-comic, half-presidential candidate, Biafra is a rock 'n' roll critic of another kind. And dissecting America has never been more necessary or fulfilling.
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