Jello Biafra

Spoken Word Album #6 (Alternative Tentacles)

Jim Hall Four + Four Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 Euclid Avenue 7 p.m., Saturday, January 20

Tickets available at Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Avenue, $18/$25


Self-styled punk provocateur Jello Biafra has tried to turn a singing career that started with one of the better named punk bands (he fronted the Dead Kennedys) into an attempt at becoming an of-the-moment monologuist. Spoken Word Album #6 is a long (three full discs) rant that finds Biafra addressing a host of hip political issues (global warming, the WTO, the media, the Republican and Democratic parties, genetically designed foods, etc.) in a dull and condescending lecturer's tone that battles its incessant predictability only with the agonizing nasal whine of Biafra's voice. The material, culled from a series of "shows" that took place over the course of last year, is foolishly dubbed "field recordings from the year of screaming dangerously" (as though Alan Lomax needs to be bastardized in such a context). It's clever packaging, but the product hardly approaches the dangerous in any sense.

In fact, it sounds quite the opposite. Biafra rails on about so much civic nonsense that he sounds like your average "spin" guy for any other political cause -- only they don't call them "field recordings"; they call them "talking points" nowadays. In fact, it's close to insulting that Biafra could put out such uninteresting material and pawn it off as something meaningful, when ultimately it becomes its own dull, overblown political commercial. You'd expect more from a former punk prima donna. When all is said and done, Biafra succeeds in making the best argument against his own political viability when, early in disc one, he callously and with an audible smirk states: "How desperate is it when people are willing to elect a professional wrestler as governor?" Which may lead the listener to the obvious answer: almost as desperate as when they'll listen to a marginally noted punk-rock singer spout off his unoriginal political views.

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