Green Jelly

  • Green Jelly
  • Cereal Killer Soundtrack (Zoo) 1993 
  • 333 (Zoo) 1994 

For mindless, directionless energy in service less seriously of music than cheerful mass-market multi-media-twiddling, Green Jelly (formerly Green Jellö) takes the Twinkie. Led by Bill Manspeaker (aka Moronic Dicktator), the colorful band of Buffalo expatriates, which has often been described as Gwar for the kiddie-set, is a mere approximation of that far-funnier band’s over-the-top lyrical antics and satirical heavy metal.

Cereal Killer Soundtrack, released first as a poorly animated longform claymation video and then as a belated CD under the band’s original name (changed in a flash of the legal and fiscal terrors after General Foods threatened a lawsuit), purports to tell some kind of comic-book story, but that’s all part of the limited effect of Green Jelly’s joke. There’s no story here, and very little substance to speak of. A piece of the film was used as the video for “Three Little Pigs” in 1993, and the clip accurately captures the flavor of the full-length album. Green Jelly displays a remarkable knack for blowing opportunities for incisive, lasting humor and true burlesque, resorting instead to references to breakfast food, cartoons and pooh-pooh jokes. Many popular artists are ridiculed: “Electric Harley House (of Love)” lifts its bridge from Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” while “Trippin’ on XTC” roasts the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s also a limp cover of “Anarchy in the UK,” this one set in the Bedrock of Flintstones lore — but it would appear to be a rip on the vacuous versions of that song released by Mötley Crüe and Megadeth. Is there anything to recommend here? Yes. “Obey the Cowgod” has a nifty punk wallop in its riffs and song structure; some enterprising young band would do well to steal them.

Same goes for “Carnage Rules,” the song that opens 333. Steal the song, write new lyrics, record it, make some bucks and throw your Green Jelly disc away. The second album is virtually indistinguishable from the first, save for some improved production values and a bit of sophistication in the lyrical mix (see “Piñata Head,” a round condemnation of Green Jelly’s own fan base). Sadistica, a female addition to the outfit, shows impressive lung power on “Fixation,” and the band’s rendition of “The Bear Song” (kindergarten classic “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”) may evoke a snort or the odd snicker, but Green Jelly needs to learn the value of follow-through.

[Ian McCaleb]