Jello Biafra & Mojo Nixon
Title: Prairie Home Invasion
Catalogue Number: Alternative Tentacles VIRUS 137
Review Format: LP
Release Year: 1994
At Bluesbunny Towers, we don't have a picture of the Queen on the wall. Not that we are unpatriotic but something more relevant to our beliefs was required. So we have a picture of Mojo Nixon instead. It has been some time since we have had any new material from our Mojo but he has a pretty damn good back catalogue to enjoy. Plundering the Vinyl Vault once more, Bluesbunny found a curious LP featuring not only Mojo Nixon but also Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys (for the trivia fans amongst you, he also owned the Alternative Tentacles label). That will do nicely.
People often forget that Mojo was an intelligent and perceptive songwriter who occasionally liked to crawl inside a beer barrel whilst it was still full. Not that it would remain full for long, if you get our point. Self destructive tendencies are far from unusual in those involved in the entertainment business but at least Mojo was (educated) blue collar all the way. Jello, of course, did the whole political and social awareness thing as well so this was going to be an interesting combination. Anyway, we get epic songs about selling your soul for success such as "Buy My Snake Oil". Of course that kind of thing happens - American Idol anyone? - and Jello sinks the boot right in. Keeping it company is a wild country-goes-camp version of the late Fred Kirby's "Atomic Power". Just in case you are thinking that the world will be taken over by women with hairy armpit, Mojo slams in a classic drinking song "Are You Drinking With Me Jesus" throwing in the classic line "…I know you can walk on the water but can you walk on this much beer".
Reviving and enhancing Phil Och's "Love Me, I'm A Liberal" turns the earnest sentiments of that song into a glorious Rocky Horror style musical number. Equally camp is "Nostalgia for an Age that Never Existed". Those political points just get thrown right at you. Even old Mojo gets in on the act with a fine country styled "Hamlet Chicken Plant Disaster". Things don't let up on the way to end of the album either with the manic threesome -"Mascot Mania", "Let's Go Burn Ole Nashville Down" and the sing along (?) "Will the Foetus be Aborted". The last song would give a modern record company marketing department a heart attack. This album is in many ways a somewhat uncomfortable mix of social awareness and professional drinking. Jello and Mojo do not quite gel and the result sounds more like a compilation than a proper album. Having said that, there is much to enjoy here with many songs that are guaranteed to annoy the neighbours.
The joys of the LP format (besides that big fat sound) include booklets that you can actually read without a magnifying glass and this time there is a 16 page one that with not only lyrics but pictures, cartoons, odd anecdotes (George Washington had 300 slaves apparently) and sometimes worrying cut-outs from newspapers. Worrying because this album is now almost 14 years old and the sentiments it expresses are still relevant. It is not a prime Mojo album but "Prairie Home Invasion" is well worth tracking down. Hell, it's got "Are You Drinking with Me Jesus" on it. What more do you want?
February 29, 2008
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