Joe Shithead Keithley - Band of Rebels (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Joe Shithead Keithley

Band of Rebels (2007)

Sudden Death

Joe Shithead Keithley's Band of Rebels has been out for a few weeks now, enough time to garner criticism from reviewers who found his work to be "too immature." What the reviewers comically failed to take into account is that this is a guy with Shithead still in his surname even at the half-century mark.

Released by Keithley's own Sudden Death Records, which has also put out great material by Millions of Dead Cops, the Vibrators, and Keithley's "other band" D.O.A., Band of Rebels is an intentionally diverse effort with a 12-member ensemble known as the Dirty Dozen helping Keithley piece together his concoctions of ska, rockabilly, punk, and yes, even funk. Like Tim Armstrong's latest, Keithley forgoes the boring acoustic and piano balladry of most solo efforts for lively, energetic songs that are above all fun.

Whether singing about leftist political idealism in "Wake Me Up for the Revolution," inverse pessimism on "Armageddon Time," or reefer rights on "Bust Me Loose" Keithley's gargly trademark snarl is unmistakable. Amusingly, the catchiest track is also one of the silliest, as "Record Company Ripoff" features the compositional inclusion of male-female choir responses that honest-to-God sounds like a pop-gospel tune.

The eclectic "Rebel Kind" is an interesting sounding number that somehow manages to pull off both a rockabilly and ska vibe simultaneously while Keithley boasts "I bend their rules 'til they break in half / Yeah, that's the facts / 'Don't Take No Crap' will be on my epitaph." The more straight-ahead punk of "People Power" shows Keithley's ability to drop some hooks into a chorus and doesn't feel long until about the four-minute mark.

Keithley and the Dirty Dozen also throw in a reworking of the D.O.A. song "Dangerman," lead by strong saxophone playing and a punkabilly styled approach. However, the best off Band of Rebels is the aforementioned "Wake Me Up for the Revolution," a folky sing-along that is a testament to the veteran punk's dedication to his youthful ideals.

The only blemishes on the album come from the tracks that are just goofy beyond belief, like the funk-inspired "Fuck the Corporation" that features Keithley rapping "There were way too many glitches / An' their system had way too many cracks / So I copped some passwords / And merrily began to hack." The band also tries their hand at the Lead Belly classic "Goodnight Irene," an obvious choice for a fun cover that was probably more fun to play than it is to listen to.

Band of Rebels is no Mescaleros album, but it fits the personality of Keithley, who gained awareness with D.O.A.'s Disco Sucks. Keithley hasn't lost his fire with age, and the diverse selections of ska, rockabilly, folk, and punk on Band of Rebels show that there's still plenty of fun to be had.