Dead Kennedys - Mutiny on the Bay (Cover Artwork)

Dead Kennedys

Mutiny on the Bay (2000)

Decay Music

Most of the publicity around this album, the first "official" live Dead Kennedy's release, has concerned itself with the controversy around it's release, ranging from Jello getting screwed by his ex-band mates and releasing this without any input from him, and yet charging him from for the artwork etc., to the other band members getting song writing credits for his songs, even going as far as crediting D.H. Peligro for songs written before he joined the band. Perhaps a true supporter of Jello would've boycotted this album. Perhaps by buying it I'm betraying my integrity as a Jello fan, but when I saw it for the first time in store, I was too much of a DK fan to resist. So Jello, please forgive me.

Getting past the criticisms of the circumstances around the release of this album, comes the most important part; the music. Being Dead Kennedy's, it is, of course, very good. Not brilliant, and certainly not without fault, but none the less, excellent.

In terms of sound quality, it is certainly above the average bootleg. The mastering process is mostly handled well, with the instruments sounding better than ever before. However, the same cannot be said for the vocals. Once again, Jello has been screwed by his ex-band mates here, as the vocals have been "mixed" (I hesitate to use this term in reference to a live recording) appallingly. Where they are heard properly, they are amazing, but for a lot of the album, his vocals, which always were the main draw of the Dead Kennedy’s are "mixed" incredibly low, and as other bootlegs show, this is not just the sound of DK live, it is almost certainly done spitefully/maliciously by East Bay Ray et al.

Ignoring these criticisms, the music is brilliant. Almost all the best Dead Kennedy's tracks are present (apart from Let's lynch the landlord, Stars and Stripes of Corruption and Nazi Punks fuck off). Sounding even more topical than a DK studio release (a LOT of specific Reagan references), a lot of the tracks are interspersed with near-spoken word from Jello, with light musical accompaniment. Following on with the topical theme, many of the songs lyrics have been slightly altered to better suit the time they were played (for example, in Kill the poor, Neutron bomb is replaced with Satellite bomb, and a reference to the Challenger shuttle is added, while the included version of California Uber Alles is the We've got a bigger problem version from the In god we trust EP).

Although these topical references and slightly slower spoken sections could have easily killed the album, given the Dead Kennedy's, they really make it, and make sure this album doesn't just sound like a standard "greatest hits live" album consisting of what sounds like a less well recorded version of studio tracks. The album really does "feel" like a live album. However, the use of 4 separate shows (all along the theme of being from the San Francisco area) allows diversity to be added, and shows how the band developed over time.

The track selection is mostly pretty predictable (especially the fact that the one single that Alternative Tentacles still has the rights to, Nazi Punks fuck off being left off) in places, including the famous tracks- Police Truck, Too Drunk to Fuck, Holiday in Cambodia and California Uber Alles. However, these are nicely mixed in with excellent and lesser known tracks such as Moon over Marin and the final track, a brilliant version of Riot. Certainly, there is not a poor track here.

The full track listing, for those who like to know these things, is, in order:

Police Truck
Kill the Poor
Holiday in Cambodia
Moon over Marin
California Uber Alles
MTV – Get off the air
Too Drunk to Fuck
Goons of Hazard
This could be anywhere
Forward to death
I am the owl

To sum up (perhaps I should have just done this instead of this entire rant :)), this is a very good album, but, even ignoring the controversy around it, is not essential. If you’re new to the Dead Kennedy’s, go with their debut, Fresh fruit for rotting vegetables before this. However, if you’re a big Dead Kennedy’s fan, and can avoid the guilt at supporting this product done against the wishes of Jello, then it is certainly worth buying (or stealing / burning :)). And if you do, make up for it by donating to the Alternative Tentacles legal defence fund. Oh, and incidentally, the release date given was for the original European release. The US release date is expected to be September 2001.