Green Jelly – 333 – Review

Green Jelly

333 (Zoo)
by Joe Hacking

Growing up in the ’70s wasn’t so bad. A ninety minute Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, Hanna-Barbera cartoons day and night, full-sized G.I. Joes, and sugar-based treats of every size and shape, sans Nutrasweet.

Green Jelly leader Bill Manspeaker liked the ’70s too. So much so that he acquired a serious case of Sid & Marty Kroft Syndrome. As there is no known cure, we will soon be bombarded by a media blitz from Green Jelly’s multi-million dollar creative think tank, Ooz Jelly Entertainment. Fittingly, their offices are located in the former residence of Frank Zappa on Sunset Boulevard, where, even now, artistic minds are creating everything from comic books to CD-ROM to a Banana Splits-type TV show based on Jelly’s song characters. To think, it all started with three little pigs.

Cereal Killer, their historic, videotape became a cult classic overnight. Demand for the warped VHS tape became so great that the music from the video was printed into CDs and tapes to meet the need. The video for “Three Little Pigs” went into heavy rotation on MTV, and we know what that means. Green Jelly went from a sucky, late 70’s punk band from Buffalo, NY, to an overnight sensation.

To prevent one-hit-wonder-itis, Green Jelly has released their new disk, 333 (Zoo Entertainment), as the first OJE product. From beginning to end, this album succeeds in capturing the essence of their targeted musical genres even as they’re making fun of them. “Orange Krunch” pokes fun at metal, “Carnage Rules” at hard rock, “Fixation” kicks hardcore punk while it’s down, and “Slave Boy” sounds like a lost B-52’s track. My personal favorites are “Anthem” (which reminds me of the countless dialogues between cheesy lead singers and stadium audiences which we’ve all endured), and the jab at college radio, “Jump” (“Kids jump up to summer sunlight/Adults jump to cold cement”). White Zombie fans, check out “Super Elastic,” done in true Zombie style.

The songs on 333 display a much higher degree of writing than on Cereal Killer. Playability has increased along with the production, enabling the songs to stand alone without the videos. I haven’t heard anything this successfully satirical since Cheech and Chong.

Just the same, video is what Green Jelly is all about. Probably the coolest thing about the band lies in the fact that they are their own production crew. Bill Manspeaker is lead singer, writes storyboards, directs the videos and designs costumes. Roy Staley (aka Coy Roy), a former TV news director, triples as the band’s drummer, video editor and cameraman. Kym O’Donnell (aka Sadistica) isn’t just a video babe, she’s the artist who designs all of Jelly’s packaging illustrations, logos and characters. Steve Shenar (aka Sven Seven) rips frets on the guitar and acts as production manager. The rest of the 12 person Jelly Family work the stages, props and costumes that reproduce the antics from their videos. I imagine they’re not quite as crazy as Gwar, Green Jelly’s show will be worth checking out when they come around.

Call them musically inept, call them stupid, call them a Gwar ripoff, but as The Buffalo News said, don’t call them Green Jello.