The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
There are times where I wish I was born before the 80’s so I could have had the chance to see all the bands I grew up listening to in their prime. I’m gonna take a break from metal this time around and focus on another genre that caught my interest and provided me with a few more gnarly bands that further expanded my spectrum of musical tastes. My destination this time takes me to San Francisco, California. The year is 1980 and American punk rock band the Dead Kennedys released their debut album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, which has gone on to be their best selling and most critically acclaimed album of their career.
Due to the risky name of the band, they sometimes played under these pseudonyms, “The Sharks”, “The Creamsicles” and “The Pink Twinkies”. But despite popular belief, the name was not meant to insult the Kennedy family, but according to Biafra, the meaning of the name was “to bring attention to the end of the American Dream”. Combining the more experimental elements of British 1970s punk with the raw energy of the 1980s American hardcore punk, they also expressed extreme lyrics with themes of satire, sarcasm, and irony of the social and political issues durning that time.
Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables was one of the first punk albums I was introduced too. It was unlike anything I heard, and it only took a few listens for me to become a life long fan. What sucked though was they were no longer together at the time of me getting into them. Biafra’s departure from the band ended any chance I could have had of seeing them live. But despite that bombshell, I still treated the whole experience as if I would one day get that chance to see them. Now while I enjoy all of their albums, nothing has yet to change my opinion on Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, it was my first taste of DK and ultimately, still my favorite.
Loud, noisy, fast and aggressive, this album laid the groundwork for all future DK releases. The entire album is perfect, each track is an in your face, fast-paced politically charged punk rock anthem. And even though nowadays most of the album comes off like a statement from an old anarchist, there are some tracks that could still be relevant to the world today, “Kill the Poor” for example, seems fitting for a republican campaign party. And for the record I dislike both sides, so I’m not looking to rile anyones feathers here. But nevertheless, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables has become a major staple of American and British punk and is an album I would recommend to anyone whose into the punk and hardcore scene.
This album contains classic tracks, such as “California Über Alles”, “Holiday in Cambodia”, “Kill the Poor”, “Viva Las Vegas”, “Chemical Warfare” and “Let’s Lynch the Landlord”. Combining the high-pitched warble of lead singer Jello Biafra, the nimble-fingered bassist Klaus Flouride, the surf-influenced lead lines of East Bay Ray and the manic, tempo-pushing drumming of Ted, the Dead Kennedys infused their music with a shrill energy and a political consciousness that would become synonymous with the rest of their discography. Although this is the only album to feature the original members, they continued to put out amazing albums for the remainder of their career before disbanding in 1986. And while I know it’s very unlikely, I still keep my fingers crossed for a Dead Kennedys reunion…
Dead Kennedys – “California Über Alles”