What do you do after pretty much founding ‘hardcore punk’ releasing stacks of albums and playing hundreds of shows over a career that spans close to 35 years? You wind down your outfit, play a last tour and go and stand as an electoral candidate. Presumably Joey ‘Shithead’ Keithley will be dropping his (ahem) middle name for such purposes but he is in good stead having been politically preaching with his band for such a long time. The party he is going to represent back home in Canada has the all important word Democratic in its name (NDP) so hopefully he is going to carry on putting the world to rights as he did in his day job. It’s been serving him well all these years and the messages on his volatile agit-prop songs have fired up a massive amount of people in the scene so there’s no reason he can’t carry on doing so in the all too real world.
Personally I first discovered D.O.A. on their excellent compilation album ‘Bloody But Unbowed’ (1984) and if you want an introduction to them it’s your first port of call as every number on it is a veritable anthem! Further to this I was truly bowled over with their 1990 disc collaboration with Jello Biafra ‘Last Scream Of The Missing Neighbours’ and kept an eye on them over the years luckily seeing them a couple of times, one memorable show at the Clapham Grand with countrymen Nomeansno particularly sticking in mind. I can’t say I have kept up with them studio album wise but this DVD and CD package puts this partly to rights as it includes their last studio album We Come In Peace from 2012.
Starting with that album it’s quick to get into the swing of things as style wise although politically evolving with the time this is still very much of the essence of the early years. The biggest surprise was perhaps a burst of bagpipes but apart from that this was a timeless punk sound very similar to what I grew up with. There are rebel rousing anthems about Wall Street ‘We Occupy’ which has the spirit of bands like The Clash at its heart and across the album you can hear many a touches of the other groups they evolved around from Black Flag to the Deak Kennedy’s, even Jello is still on hand to put in an appearance on the standout aforementioned track. It’s a catchy disc that took me right back and one that I have a feeling I will be playing a fair amount. It also has encouraged me to look further from the songs I knew well and broadened my appeal of the band a lot. I may have left it a bit late but there’s plenty of material to dip back into.
The main impetus here though is the 90 minute DVD which consists of material from 4 Canadian shows between 2011 and 2013. Now here the classics are fired out in abundance and the well shot multi angled cameras capture the band and audiences firing off each other nicely. It’s impossible not to find yourself singing along to the likes of ‘The Prisoner,’ ‘Liar For Hire,’ ‘The Enemy’ and ‘Fuck You!’ Each song has a message behind it yep even ‘Fuck You’ and Shithead has many an opinion skilfully weaved into each of these barnstorming disaffected anthems tackling police brutality, racism, legalisation of pot, consumerism, capitalism, politicians and even disco, which in case you were wondering Sucks!
He may not be as weathered as the likes of Iggy but Shithead ain’t no spring chicken having been born in 1956 and he stays his ground rather than going mad and steaming around the stage or anything. The audience are vigorous on the dance floor and occasional people share some of the vocals with him and bassist Dirty Dan. There are times when Joe can’t help showing off though, playing guitar behind his head, with his teeth and with a beer bottle and the band are always interesting to watch. There are 30 tracks included over the 4 shows and very little in the way of repetition too so you get plenty of material to enjoy here which was appreciated as there were quite a few songs I didn’t know as well as plenty I did. Actually there were quite a few I thought I didn’t know but actually did too, so I got the best of all worlds here.
Added to the shows there is a making of the We Come In Peace’ album in the studio which shows the band at work and bouncing ideas around and the whole package here was an interesting one that both fans new and old should enjoy.
Somehow I doubt this is the last chapter of the band, they certainly ain’t dead yet no matter what happens with Joe’s political career, it’s not like being prominent in that scene has stopped certain actors from making new films, although perhaps we wish it had. There’s many who will be more than willing to see the band back in the future but for the time being this is a great reminder of just what a landmark act they were!
(8/10 Pete Woods)