Official Soundtrack of the Cardboard Turtle Insurrection
[originally posted Aug, 2000 in Raptorial ‘zine]
The No WTO Combo
Live From the Battle in Seattle
Alternative Tentacles Records
The music on this CD was recorded live on Dec 1, 1999 several hours after a police enforced curfew had gone into effect on the second day of unrest at the WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle, WA. The show itself (which included performances from other artists) was reviewed here shortly after it took place (please see “Biafra & Franti: Live from the Occupied Zone”). The No WTO Combo consists of Jello Biafra (ex-Dead Kennedys, current Lard, etc.) at the mic, Kim Thayil (ex-Soundgarden) on guitar, Krist Novoselic (ex-Nirvana, current Sweet 75) on bass and Gina Mainwal (Sweet 75) on the drums.
The sound quality on this live recording is excellent. From the opening spoken word / musical improv piece ‘Battle in Seattle’ all the way to the closer ‘Full Metal Jackoff’ the live music and vocals are clear and masterfully recorded. I was at this show and I don’t remember it sounding this good (however, I was sitting on the bass side of the stage which is never a good idea if you like to hear musical detail). Jello’s spoken monologue leads directly into an awesome cover of Dead Kennedys’ ‘Let’s Lynch the Landlord’. I remember I just about left my body at that moment. You see, I got into the Dead Kennedys in 1986… the same year they broke up… never saw them live except on videotape. Seeing Jello do ‘…Landlord’ was a beautiful thing especially since Thayil and Novoselic play the song so joyfully themselves. As I listen to this track again, I get the feeling Soundgarden and Nirvana must’ve played this tune for fun at band rehearsals.
Jello wrote two new tracks that were designed just for the occasion (‘Electronic Plantation’ and ‘New Feudalism’). These new tracks were conceived of and rehearsed mere days before they were performed in Seattle. As a result, they have a debut/demo quality to them. Soundwise you won’t be able to tell the new cuts apart from vintage Dead Kennedys… Thayil’s take on the music is very faithful to the guitar stylings of the Kennedy’s East Bay Ray. ‘Full Metal Jackoff’ is a cover tune from another Jello project (Biafra with DOA). Here Novoselic and Mainwal lay down a steady and relentless rhythm to which Thayil adds some scrambling Soundgarden-isms. In front of this wall of sound stands Jello shreaking and preaching somberly from on high about everything that is wrong with America.
Though I am nuts about the music, my favorite thing about this release is the insert that comes with the CD. In it, aside from the lyrics and cool photos from the event, are the WTO diaries of both Jello Biafra and Krist Novoselic. These detailed accounts of what went down before, during, and after this show (from two highly respectable artists) are worth the price of the disc alone. To top it off, an article from the Institute for Consumer Responsibility answers the question “What is the WTO?” (in case you’re still unclear about this). Many links and addresses are inlcuded for the more curious and studious among us.
Live From the Battle in Seattle is easily the most important release of the year. If there is justice in the world, this disc should be nominated for some damned presitigious grammy-type award or another.