Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine - Shock-You-Py [digital single] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine

Shock-You-Py [digital single] (2012)

Alternative Tentacles

The wonderful thing about art is that it doesn't need a purpose to exist. Simply by existing, art has value. But, just because art doesn't need to serve any goal, doesn't mean that it can't be used as a tool. Indeed, one could argue that man's first music was designed as a tool for history or communication. This trend continued through the formation of protest music with songwriters like Woody Guthrie, Utah Phillips and Bob Dylan using music as a record, but also as a lightening rod to rally a certain cause. Quite explicitly, "Shock-you-py!" is designed as a rallying cry for Occupy protestors.

A single that precedes an EP that precedes an album, the single features a sing-a-ling mix designed to rally the troops and a rock-a-long mix designed to rock the hell out. Most noticeable is how distinctive the new tune sounds. While older GSM songs thrashed like the Stooges on speed, the songs seemed somewhat samey due to their relative uniformity in tempo. However, "Shock-You-Py!" is the most complex thing the band has recorded to date. With multiple sections, the nearly eight-minute song has multiple twists and turns that almost makes it feel like a medieval ballad. Although it is still rooted in the GSM hard rock meets punk with a lil' metal attack, it features the booming chorus "Shock-you-py!" which also reaches back to early '70s prog rock. Incidentally, GSM's new drummer Paul Della Pelle played in Helios Creed (Chrome *what what*) and also a Hawkwind spin-off group(*what what 2x*).

Lyrically, the song features an interesting bend to the occupy movement. Biafra starts by drawing a comparison to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal and Hoovervilles with the Occupy protestors and their platform. He then celebrates the Occupy movement itself, which is expected. However, most interestingly, Biafra urges some Occupy members to take a rest and recharge instead of going full out all the time in protesting. That is, Biafra seems to state that Occupy doesn't have to be a person's life, just one aspect towards change.

Biafra has stated that he intended the song to be sung by protestors to be used as sort of a rallying cry. It's difficult to imagine the eight minutes being memorized as a chant. Take for instance Crass' "Fight War, Not Wars!" and compare it to Biafra' lengthy exploration. Perhaps a fourth version of the song (with the third set to appear on he upcoming LP) with just the chorus would be more effective. Still, even though the song might be cumbersome to use as a chant, as an expansion of GSM's previous sound, it shows that the new album will make good on the band's pedigree.

Fun fact: The song was produced by Matt "Machine Gun" Kelley who has also worked with Digital Underground and the Coup. Jello, DU and the Coup! The bay area trifecta!!! (With the quad-fecta including the Dwarves)

The single and more info can be found here.