The Greatest Songs You Haven’t Heard #1 – Full Metal Jackoff

First in a series looking at some of the greatest songs I know. This focuses on  the Punk/Sludge classic Full Metal Jackoff. It’s from The Last Scream of the Missing Neighbours mini-album Jello Biafra wrote with DOA.

Full Metal Jackoff is built around a repetitive single riff that emerges from feedback noise that grows and grows, backed by insistent bass and a fairly simple drumbeat. It’s extremely effective. After a couple of minutes of build-up Jello starts his vocal and things really kick off.

What can you say about Jello Biafra? A punk luminary certainly, as front-man of the Dead Kennedys he helped invent American punk. A target for sure, he and his band were in the cross-hairs of the Parents Resource Music Center from the start. An erudite and engaging speaker, he’s never done less than effectively fighting his corner, emerging victorious from the fight time and time again. Sometimes he dabbles too deeply in conspiracy theory for my tastes but you can feel the integrity and belief in everything he does and says.

The folks might get a little upset if they knew where that dope came from…

In this song he takes his message and distils it down into a concentrated 13 minutes of political diatribe against the then Reagan/Bush administration in as perfect way as possible. It speaks of the USA government’s involvement in the Nicaraguan Contra scandal, their running of drugs in to the United States, their control of society by setting up bogeymen for people to fear, labour camps, Neo-Nazis and the turning of America into a police state.

It explicitly states that the US Government are involved in killing and disappearing of their own citizens, “just like in Chile or Guatemala”. That’s what the Last Scream of the Missing Neighbour is all about in the album title. I don’t know if that’s true but it’s worth noting that the running of drugs into America by the CIA is now pretty much established fact – it’s even the basis of a recent Tom Cruise film called, American Made.

Jello has performed the song live a number of times, both with DOA and without. Probably the most important occasion was during the “Battle of Seattle” – during a meeting of the World Trade Organisation – where he was backed by the No WTO Combo –  Krist Novoselic (Nirvana) on bass, Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) on guitar and Gina Maxwell (Sweet 75) on drums. As usual the lyrics had an update to reflect current politics.

They finally got you psyched for a police state

Full Metal Jackoff is an important song that’s as catchy as it is effective. I urge you to give it a listen and see if it opens up the same kind of doorways in your mind as it did mine many years ago. I can’t wait for an updated version some day – a 13 minute intelligent slagging off of that Trump cunt would be more than welcome.

Previous review  – Septic Tank Rotting Civilisation

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