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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Here's To You, Alternative Tentacles: Top 3 Things We're Covertly Listening to at Work In Honor of the Punk Label's 33 ⅓ Anniversary

Posted By on Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 2:07 PM

One-time presidential candidate/prolific social critic Jello Biafra plays with his current band, the Guantanamo School of Medicine, at Slim's Nov. 15.
  • One-time presidential candidate/prolific social critic Jello Biafra plays with his current band, the Guantanamo School of Medicine, at Slim's Nov. 15.

Are you reading this while sitting in an office with other people? If so, did you bring your headphones today? Do you have a good sense of when and where it's appropriate to run in circles, smash things, and loudly swear about religion, the government, your parents, etc.?

Alternative Tentacles, the storied record label founded in San Francisco in 1979 by Jello Biafra and East Bay Ray of the Dead Kennedys (initially in order to self-produce "California Uber Alles," arguably one of the best debuts of all time), is throwing itself a party Friday night at Slim's to celebrate its 33 ⅓ years in existence. Now based out of Emeryville and still overseen by Biafra with the help of a tiny staff, it's one of the longest-running independent record labels in the U.S. We have it on pretty good authority that this show will be a fine place to take part in the aforementioned activities.

However! If, like we do, you want to get started early, below are a few historical gems the Internet has bestowed upon us. (We know Jello isn't really a fan, but there's some pretty good stuff on there.) Note: We're not responsible in the event that you get too amped and behave inappropriately in an office setting.

Let Them Eat Jellybeans!

This 1981 compilation, considered by some to be a sort of founding document for American hardcore, conjures sepia-toned memories of a time when teenage rebellion had more to do with perfectly-hairsprayed mohawks and impassioned talk about the U.S. government as an oppressive fascist regime than with flashing each other on Snapchat. Some of it still sounds really good and some of it is really silly and some of it falls into both categories. Also, it still makes us want to break things. Also, AT won't reissue it because Black Flag won't give them permission to use their song, plus Jello has beef with another (unnamed) band on it. Thanks, person who put this on YouTube last month!

Jello tearing Tipper Gore a new one over media censorship on Oprah:

In 1990, following his obscenity trial over the content of the Dead Kennedys' 1985 album Frankenchrist, Biafra went on Oprah to defend musicians' right to free expression from Tipper Gore's Parents Music Resource Center, which was founded to protect kids from the evil influence of Guns N' Roses and Cyndi Lauper records. We've watched this probably a dozen times now and it still somehow makes us giddy. Bonus: Ice-T. Extra bonus: Oprah's sweet neon yellow fish sweater(?).

Anything off Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon's 1994 country-punk masterpiece, Prairie Home Invasion:

...mainly because we got ridiculously excited to hear that Mojo Nixon, patron saint of psychobilly, would be part of the lineup at Slim's tomorrow. Some of the folk-country covers on this album, like the Phil Ochs song "Love Me, I'm a Liberal," are actually nice homages to their original creators -- but this is the song we remember seeming like The Most Shocking (and Therefore Extremely Compelling) Thing in the World when we first heard it in middle school.

And some bonus Mojo, for the home stretch of the day:

This 1989 video for "Debbie Gibson is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Love Child" was banned from MTV, which means an unfortunate number of kids never got to be really confused by every single thing that happens in it. Plus, duh, 18-year-old Winona Ryder in a blonde wig.

Okay, back to work.

-- @emmaruthless

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About The Author

Emma Silvers

Emma Silvers is SF Weekly's former Music Editor.


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