No WTO Combo - Live from the Battle in Seattle (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

No WTO Combo

Live from the Battle in Seattle (1999)

Alternative tentacles

No WTO Combo’s Live from the Battle in Seattle was a strange record, made up of a strange bunch of songs, played by a strange combination of people. The group was put together for the sole purpose of performing in protest at the 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle, WA. Their one and only show was recorded by the great Jack Endino for the sake of posterity. No WTO Combo featured the ever agitated Jello Biafra on vocals, along with Seattle area musicians Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) on guitar, Krist Novoselic (Nirvana, Sweet 75) on bass and Gina Mainwal (Sweet 75) on drums. (It’s probably worth noting that this was Thayil's first post Soundgarden project.) The record consisted of only five sings, two of which were very long.

One of those long ‘songs’ was album opener “Battle in Seattle”. In actuality, it was the 15 minute rant that Jello did to start the show. If you’re familiar with Jello’s spoken word stuff, then you know what this is all about. The next song was a stretched out version of the Dead Kennedys’ “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” from their classic 1980 debut LP Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables. There were two new songs written specifically for the project, “New Feudalism” and “Electronic Plantation”. These songs were the big draw of the record, but both were later re-recorded by Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. 16 plus minute closer “Full Metal Jackoff” was originally recorded by Jello Biafra and DOA. (The original version was long as hell too.)

Live from the Battle in Seattle is interesting as a historical document. Jello tailored some of the lyrics to fit the time and place. It will really take you back to the state of left wing politics before 911. It’s almost quaint. Musically, it’s noisy and fairly abrasive. (A bit like the stuff Jello did with the Melvins.) It reminds us that grunge was a prevailing sound of the day. It’s punk protest music and it’s still a pretty enjoyable listen, even if it isn’t among Jello’s most crucial work.