Another dramatic swing in genres, as we go from AC/DC to George Jones to one of America’s first and most influential punk rock bands, the Dead Kennedys. Yes, the name is completely in poor taste, but that is obviously the point, to get your attention and shock your senses. Even with my uneven history with punk rock, I have to say I have always loved this band, primarily due to the energy and frenetic voice of lead singer Jello Biafra. Their debut album, “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables” is a blast, and is the #3 rated punk rock album of all time on loudersound.com.
We get things off to a happy and fun start with “Kill the Poor”. I’m not sure we can actually do that. The pace intensifies with “Forward to Death”, and continues with “When Ya Get Drafted”. I’m not one to gather in the pit for some slam-dancing, but this music can’t help but make you a bit more aggressive. Next comes “Let’s Lynch the Landlord”. Like the first song, I don’t think we can do that either. The rest of the album is filled with cheery tracks like “Chemical Warfare”, “I Kill Children”, “Stealing People’s Mail” and “Ill in the Head”. Obviously, the secret here is not taking any of this too seriously, which probably applies to most of rock and roll music, but I will fully admit I would have loved seeing this band live during their peak. “Drug Me”, in particular, is a trend-setter in the extremely fast and intense pace, even more so than most of what was coming from the primary UK punk rock leaders.
The album ends with probably their biggest hit from that first album, “Holiday in Cambodia”, followed by an outstanding cover of “Viva Las Vegas”. Ridiculous and over the top? Absolutely. Good, aggressive rock and roll? Damn straight.