Originally launched in Austin, Texas around 1980, this explosive political hardcore quartet (aka Multi-Death Corporation, Millions of Dead Children and Millions of Damn Christians) has long been based in San Francisco. Precise breakneck rock makes Millions of Dead Cops a powerful means by which to deliver messages like “John Wayne Was a Nazi” (originally recorded and released on 45 when MDC was known as the Stains) and “I Hate Work.” Best title: “Corporate Deathburger.” After the first pressing sold out, the LP was remastered and reissued, ultimately joining More Dead Cops on CD.
Smoke Signals offers a more mature lyrical stance and challenging post-hardcore arrangements, which organize thrash sounds into a tightly structured musical framework. New arrival Gordon Fraser’s throaty guitar and the deft rhythm section set the scene for Dave Dictor’s clearly enunciated soapbox announcements like “No More Cops,” “South Africa Is Free,” “Missile Destroyed Civilization” and the vegetarian “Country Squawk.” Turning to cultural concerns, MDC also offers the flavorful “Tofutti,” the sarcastic “Skateboards to Hell” and “King of Thrash.” An exceptionally good record.
Turning non-‘core, This Blood’s for You starts out as an attack on religion, but quickly broadens the free-fire zone to include merciless indictments of Reagan (“Bye Bye Ronnie,” “Guns for Nicaragua,” “Who’s the Terrorist Now”), bureaucrats (“Henry Kissmyassinger,” Cream’s “Politician”), agricultural imperialism (“Chock Full of Shit”), intolerant punks (“S.K.I.N.H.E.A.D.”) and junkies (“Your Death Wish Is Sick”). The music is likewise expansive: MDC uses acoustic guitar, melody, guitar solos and other good things. A fine development from a deeply committed and talented quartet.
More Dead Cops 1981 – 1987 is a rarities retrospective, including both sides of the band’s debut single (“John Wayne Was a Nazi” b/w “Born to Die”), the four-song Multi-Death Corporation EP, the three-song Chicken Squawk EP, two compilation tracks (including “Pay to Come Along,” an attack on the Bad Brains) and two unreleased covers (“Born Under a Bad Sign” and “Spanish Castle Magic”) from ’87.
Despite one simple acoustic number (“Acid Reindeer”) and a country stomp (“Ain’t It Funny”), Metal Devil Cokes returns MDC’s thrash power, with excellent playing and production. New guitarist Eric Calhoun contributes effectively to the tight electric roar, but Dictor’s delivery and the band’s humorous polemics are still the primary element in MDC’s personality. Actually, the radical content here is significantly toned down, with songs like “I’m a Knucklehead” and “White Men in Suits” (not to mention a straight punk cover of “Love Potion No. 9”) that avoid any specific finger-pointing or protesting. The complete cooking instructions of “Tofu Spaghetti” make for one funny song, while a new use for nursery rhymes (“Three Blind Mice”) and the revised lyrics of “Deep in the Heart of (Racist Amerikkka)” prove that political rock doesn’t have to be grim or boring.
Elvis – In the Rheinland, recorded live in Berlin in November 1988, finds the quartet ripping through a great-sounding 24-song career retrospective, plus a restrained rendition of Michelle Shocked’s “Fogtown” (a song which they also play on her second album).