Various Artists - What Were We Fighting For? A Dead Kennedys Tribute.
Turning into quite an issue for things Dead Kennedys / Biafra related. Which is a good thing. If you listen to punk, then Ill automatically assume you know and listen to the DKs. If not, well, your education will never be complete until you do so. They were, and today over a decade after their demise, they remain one of the most important bands in history. Me, I wasnt introduced to their music until years after the split. Its one of my regrets. All I can do is listen to the albums, and view the videos. But that was my fault for not opening my tastes earlier in my life. One reason I make a deal about doing that now I guess.
But, do they deserve a tribute album. I dislike the term tribute. The same as I dislike the term Fanzine, and call this a zine. It sounds like you are putting a band or group of people on a pedestal, and no matter how important, how influential, Ive grown to disagree with that action over the years. Or as a person youre so influenced by a band as to not be able to think for yourself. Both of which are traits to be avoided. So, like with reunion tours, Im a little dubious at this. Instead Im looking at it this way. Its the chance to hear a bunch of new bands to me, in a setting which is comfortable me, and in which Ill give them a chance. Playing songs I know and love. You can concentrate on whether the band is any good or not. If they totally fuck up the DKs well, its going to be a long way back for them. This approach of course has disadvantages. I know these songs. Anything other than the original is going to take getting used to, so if they change the arrangement, speed it up, slow it down, then I have to adjust. But thats ok. It worked on Alternative Tentacles Virus 100 album.
Anyway, enough. What do we have here. 17 tracks, and just look at the track listing.
Government Flu, Terminal Preppie, Your Emotions, Police Truck, Moon Over Marin, Religious Vomit, Forward To Death, Hyperactive Child, Life Sentence, When You Get Drafted, Jock-O-Rama, California Uber Alles, MTV Get Off The Air, Too Drunk To Fuck, Moral Majority and Nazi Punks Fuck Off.
M.T.V.--Get Off the Air
Having said that knowing the originals can be a problem if bands mess with a song, its not really a problem here. Only Vitamin L do any major re-working, with their hip-hop infused version of California Uber Alles. However, the real gem is Politikill Incorrects take on Jock-O-Rama. Some changes to the lyrics, to reflect they are a Canadian band as opposed to American, and that Hockey is their game as opposed to American Football. And then, when they reach the the sad, lump in the throat part, the tragic moment the jock breaks his neck on the almighty football field, they do it to the tune of Sabbaths Paranoid. Its unexpected to say the least. First time you listen its eh?!?. It could be tribute to Sabbath. It could be piss take of metal. I dont know and I dont care, cos its wonderful. A true example of a band taking a song, making it theirs, and managing to pull it off. Can be a rare thing indeed.
Your emotions is slowed down, which kinda makes it more difficult to enjoy, and the lyrics are changed to reflect the beaten Biafra received (two broken legs) from some punks while he was at a gig, cos they reckon hed sold out.
If you ever really wondered how on the ball the DKs were, how relevant they still are, then take a read of the lyrics to MTV Get Off The Air
The music ensures that this is a wondrous album. Theyre one of those bands that you could (can) always identify. Not faceless. Put up against them, most bands these days dont have any character or any personality, no matter how GOOD they may be. The bands here, to their credit, dont destroy the music. Im still uncomfortable with the word tribute on the cover. But thats my problem. Now, go buy some DK albums, and absorb. When youve done that, well see if you can still wear your wallet chain with pride.
And if you ever thought that Marilyn Manson was dangerous and scared the shit out of the authorities in the States, get Tales From The Trial one of Biafras spoken word albums, and listen to the ways that the moral majority used to try and ban the Dead Kennedys. Now there was a band that worried middle class America.