Dead Kennedys

Mutiny on the Bay

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Jello Biafra would never have released this. The result of a judge siding with the other three members in their lawsuit against singer/leader Biafra, this live LP and the reissues of their LPs via license is messy. On one hand, the matter was decided in open court, rightly or wrongly, and we certainly don't blame Manifesto for taking on the valuable catalog once it became legally East Bay Ray's, D.H. Peligro's, and Klaus Flouride's to barter. And it's not our place to tell the curious not to buy these rather fine records, either. It just feels hollow, somehow. Ray, Peligro, and Flouride don't know how lucky they were that Biafra kept control of the catalog from the onset, released it all on his own Alternative Tentacles, and kept it all in print. They've been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over two decades, while pretty much every other musician in the other punk/hardcore bands were ripped off by shady, bankrupt indie labels. One feels sympathy with Biafra's side of a dispute over a minimal accounting error. And his refusal to exploit the catalog strikes me as fair enough. Secondly, it was Biafra's personality, knowledge, crazy antics, and most of all his astounding, singular lyrics that made the band so popular. Biafra's crack about his vocals coming in and out (due to the chaos of those old shows, he never worried much about staying on mic) is entirely valid. The LP sounds great otherwise. Culled from four different shows after Peligro joined in 1982, the sound is consistent, the set list inspired, the playing sharper than many of their New York shows, and the live photos are first-rate history. Call this the one good thing that came out of the bitter suit. (Sorry, Jello!)

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