If you were in Seattle for the WTO protests last November, chances are that you saw some wacky stuff go down. One thing I did manage to do was read lots of news stories about it all, and I found it completely fascinating. Being of a fairly young age (born after Vietnam protests), I'd never really seen any protests in the United States on a large scale. Having seen it go on overseas in lots of different countries, I was even wondering how much would actually happen in Seattle up until the opening day of WTO when protestors pretty much shut down the proceedings. Of course, eventually enough police force was brought in to deal with the crowds and after curfews and no-protest zones were put into place, the meetings went on pretty much without a hitch, but the two days that started the conference out set a tone that sort of held over throughout the week, which was basically that a lot of people were pissed off.
Live From The Battle In Seattle is an interesting release in that it mainly stands as a document to what happened in those few days. It's only 5 tracks and 45 minutes long, but the listener is able to get a good feel for what's going on (and what went on) through a combination of music and spoken word (the 'combo' is comprised of Kim Thayil (Soundgarden), Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), and Gina Mainwal with Jello Biafra on vocals). As usual, Biafra's rant is a combination of good facts and rather inspired (and inciting) riffing on what has happened, and there's just enough crowd noise in the recording to make you sort of feel like you were there.
The album actually opens with a 15-minute rant by Biafra and whether or not you enjoy the release will pretty much hinge on how much you enjoy his spoken word. As usual, he plays the crowd pretty well with some statistics and lacing his socio-political speech with a batch of obsenity and ripping on those in charge. From there, the group plays 4 songs, including 1 Dead Kennedy track ("Let's Lynch The Landlord"), 2 new ones ("New Feudalism" and "Electronic Plantation") and the album closer of "Full Metal Jackoff" that Biafra did with D.O.A. In the track, he's updated the lyrics for the performance with several references to the election (which had just taken place).
Basically, the release is a really good document of an event, but like many spoken word CDs, it doesn't make for very interesting repeated listens. The band itself sounds pretty tight for only a couple days worth of practice and the two new tracks are pretty darn good as well (if you're a Biafra fan). If you weren't there and wished you could have been, it's a way to get a little closer.