Album review: Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine – “White People & The Damage Done”

It’s a shame that so much of Jello Biafra’s later work has been overlooked, when it is just as catchy, clever, punchy, and raw as anything from his albums with the Dead Kennedys. His latest release as Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School Of Medicine, “White People And The Damage Done,” carries modernized punk songs that have the potential to be regarded with the same enthusiasm of any other good punk album of this year so far.

This record finds a way to retain a quirky prog punk vibes that can be heard in the band’s previous albums, while still displaying the very “listenable” quality of a great rock album for the ages. The band’s previous album “The Audacity Of Hype,” contained a large amount of musically and technically experimental sounds, which may have discouraged and alienated DK fans. That element is still a driving factor to this release, but at the same I’m still presented with the feeling that I’m listening to an old school punk record. Hell, half the tracks on this album (“Road Rage,” “Mid-East Peace Process,” “Hollywood Goof Disease”) even sound like they could have been written by the Dead Kennedys way back in 1982; lyrically as well as musically (okay, excluding references to the Kardashians and Jerry Sandusky reference in the latter track).

Lyrically and vocally, Biafra remains as biting as he ever was. Clever, sarcastic, and ironic satirizing of the state of the world today has never been an issue for Jello and the wordplay here delivers wittily without getting too much in the way of the main concept this album centers itself around: the damage done to our society, and those who have done the damage.

Think twice before writing this one off as the product of another stale has-been. This band has embraced a sound that serves as a viable vehicle for Jello Biafra to not just continue his music, but to revitalize it and offer it up to a new generation of punk fans who just might not have been around in the early 80’s. And if you were around to see those days, this isn’t quite “Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables,” but it’s as fresh as it gets some thirty-odd years after the fact. “White People And The Damage Done” is a solid progressive punk album earning 3.5/5 stars.

3.5/5 Stars

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