Various Artists

The Virus That Would Not Die

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A sampler of the first 18 years of Alternative Tentacles' existence, The Virus That Would Not Die is a variety-packed compilation of punk rock and its various offshoots. Compiled by Jello Biafra, the album is filled with the dark and abrasive hardcore that made the Dead Kennedys such an imposing force. Excellent songs from Facepuller, Nomeansno, and the Crucifucks are the best examples of this approach. But Biafra loves anti-establishment music of all kinds, and his eclectic tastes make this more than just a generic label showcase. These other additions include the churning and moody grindcore of Logical Nonsense, the prison-bashing spoken-word power of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the overdriven sonic assault of Pachinko, the swaggering indie rock of Half Japanese, the political comedy of standup extremist Judi Bari, and the usual entertaining blather from Wesley Willis. Life After Life's intensely bizarre tribute to "Marijuana" is probably the closest anything comes to a party anthem, while Buzzkill's "Video" starts the record with a gleefully sardonic tribute to MTV. And as a throwback to '80s punk, the Dicks' awesome anti-cop anthem (and future Mudhoney live staple) "Dicks Hate the Police" is here in all its hateful glory. It's definitely hit or miss, as the spoken-word moments may be too heavy for most listeners and Man Is the Bastard's admirable eight-minute monster, "Sublerfuge," is a drastic test of patience. But factor in the low price and sheer amount of variety, and this turns out to be a very accurate sampler for a label that challenges its fans on a regular basis.

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