My first bootleg, wasn't Dylan, wasn't even the Clash but rather San Francisco anarcho-punks the Dead Kennedys. The D.K.'s, intelligent, shocking and surprisingly musically sophisticated, owned North American punk in the early eighties. Sure, there may have been a touch of mad megalomania to lead singer Jello Biafra but I grew fascinated with his skewed worldview. (I'll always remember this interview with Jello and Frank Discussion of the Feederz, where Jello came off as the calm, rational one while Frank raved about blowing up phone booths as an art form.). I'd already gobbled up all their material then available on Alternative Tentacles; the singles, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, In God We Trust Inc. and Plastic Surgery Disaster; there had to be more...
Then, amongst the records of my friend, The Curator, I found this blue record, a live German (semi) bootleg of a Dead Kennedys show from 1982 . All the songs were familiar but the lengthy diatribes that erupted before, during and after the songs were definitely not. Early punk rock had tried to kill off the then-calcified tradition of the live solo, once best exemplified in the performances of The Who, Jimi Hendrix or a thousand jazz performers I'm not qualified to list. But during DK's shows Jello took vocal solos, not scat-singing like Ella Fitzgerald but extemporizing like a motor-mouthed Lenny Bruce! Soon enough I'd have memorized those bits of banter as if they were carefully-crafted lyrics.
(Not from this show but indicative of Jello's logorrhoea.)
Jello's impromptu battling with the German crowd is especially sharp, when one woman yells "Autograph Goddammit!" he says "I'll autograph it with my dental chart". Jello just cannot shut up, whether he's indicting Alexander Haig, mocking German rocker Heino or lecturing the crowd on the side effects of kepone. It's no shock that Jello's post Dead Kennedys work has been dominated by his spoken word work.
A Skateboard Party link is in the comments (but scroll down a bit)
Speaking of comments, there's always room for Jello-related thoughts.