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The No WTO Combo

The story of the No WTO Combo begins in late 1999, when punk demigod and activist Jello Biafra and former Nirvanabassist and current Sweet 75 guitarist Krist Novoselic were assisting organizers in planning protest events during the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle. Unable to find any musicians willing to perform at the protests, the pair drafted former Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil and Novoselic's Sweet 75 bandmate, drummer Gina Mainwal, to form a one-off punk protest band. On December 1, 1999, the foursome defied police curfews to play an anti-WTO show at Seattle's The Showbox before hundreds of fans and protestors.

Released by Alternative Tentacles, Live from the Battle in Seattle is the short-lived band's legacy. The record opens with about twenty minutes of Biafra's inspired ranting about global capitalism, corporate hegemony, and the WTO protests themselves as the band improvises behind him. This concludes with Biafra and the crowd chanting "No No WTO" before the band explodes into the Dead Kennedys classic "Let's Lynch the Landlord." The band does three more tracks: "Full Metal Jackoff," a song Biafra did with veteran political punkers DOA, and two new pointedly anti-corporate Biafra numbers called "New Feudalism" and "Electronic Plantation," both of which are featured here.

For a band that had only managed to rehearse three times, this one is pretty damn tight: Novoselic's bass lines are huge and heavy, Thayil's guitar solos are searing, and Mainwal's drumming is fast and furious. Unfortunately, by all accounts, the No WTO Combo was indeed a one-time affair and its members have no plans to re-form. Still, Live from the Battle in Seattle provides testimony to one of the most exciting and inspiring punk rock moments in recent memory. More importantly, as all truly good political punk rock should be, it's a powerful call to action you cannot ignore.

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