Review
Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine
White People And The Damage Done

Alternative Tentacles (2013) Kevin Fitzpatrick

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine – White People And The Damage Done cover artwork
Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine – White People And The Damage Done — Alternative Tentacles, 2013

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle dictates that nothing in this universe has a truly defined position or trajectory and by trying to define it, the momentum of the object becomes even more unstable and unpredictable. The lesser known certainty principle is this: there will never be a Dead Kennedys reunion with Jello Biafra at the helm. Ever. It's not going to happen. The sooner you accept that, the better off you'll be. Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine is as close as we'll ever get in our lifetime. So if you haven't picked up their latest, White People and the Damage Done, best get yer ass down to your local independent record store (yes, they still exist) and pick it up.

As a qualifying statement, musically speaking there are some similarities between the DK's and JBGSM, but more than anything it's the spirit of the band that's been captured in these songs. Of course the political climate has changed substantially since the 1980s when the DK's were at their zenith, but the problems for the general populace created by these administrations remain woefully unchanged. 

The album is a definite progression from the band's previous full-length, The Audacity Of Hype. This is despite a reshuffling of the rhythm cabinet, with drummer Paul Della Pelle and bassist Andrew Weiss now along for the ride. 

While Audacity was a strong album, the songs were somewhat scattershot and lacked an attention to detail. Maybe it was the increase in activism across the world in recent years, particularly the Occupy movement that has given the band a sharper focus. 

Not one to ever be known for subtlety, Jello comes out swinging with "The Brown Lipstick Parade", a lovely bedtime story for the kiddies. Gather 'round children and let Uncle Jello regale you with swashbuckling tales of Illuminazis and filibustering elephants.

The entire band sounds tight as a drum on tracks like "Werewolves of Wall Street", "Road Rage" and "John Dillinger", but it's bassist Weiss who shines brightest here. Weiss' previous work with Ween, Pigface and The Rollins Band has groomed him to suit GSM's sensibilities to a T. 

The winds of change haven't changed Biafra a bit. He's still the dissonant dissident - the sardonic, fearless court jester that doesn't give a shit about pissing off the king. Jello's greatest strength has always been his masterful understanding of parody. It's this innate ability thats kept him from turning into a parody himself after all these years. Others (I'm looking at you, Mr. Lydon) have not been as lucky. 

It would appear that after so many years of flirting with side projects and collaborations, Jello Biafra has finally found himself a home. Despite this newfound stability, it's a good thing we're talking about a man that won't ever let himself be complacent.

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine – White People And The Damage Done cover artwork
Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine – White People And The Damage Done — Alternative Tentacles, 2013

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