When I think early ’80s American punk, the one band that comes to mind is the Dead Kennedys. If you were into punk/hxc back then, being familiar with DK was basically de rigueur – even if you were not a huge fan, you at least listened to them. Not so sure if this is still the case? Since they are a cornerstone of American punk, maybe a little review is in order.
Listening to them now, DK seem like a kind of extended Reagan era joke. (see: Church of the Subgenius) I can’t even imagine anyone under 35 listening to them without Wikipedia open to look up all the satirical jokes – they kind of remind me of reading political cartoons from the 1930s – I guess they are funny and have a point, but damned if I ‘get’ any of it.
Headed by ‘Jello Biafra’ (srs – anyone get that joke anymore?!?), they were pretty tr00 punk – hated just about everything about early ’80s America. They wrote songs comparing Jerry Brown being California’s governor to a new age Nazi takeover (wut??)
Yea, this looks about right…
Honestly, not all of their output is terrible, but they were wildly variable in their output. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables was their initial debut, but I think only 3 or so songs are any good. The last track Viva Las Vegas is pretty typical of American alternative satire - re-purposing a mainstream ‘hit’ in a sneering way to ‘poke fun’ at what the song celebrates.
Pol Pot? Anyone even remember who that is?
In God We Trust also has about 3 good songs, and uses the same schtick as Fresh Fruit… at the end – this time with the song Rawhide.
Plastic Surgery Disasters is probably my favorite album of theirs, all songs pretty melodic and fairly hard hitting. If you want to get one album, make it this.
This song always made me laugh – Pick the Cocaine! (shits expensive!)
Not sure what’s up with punks adding the clips in front of the songs – typical tho… ‘giving context’ I’m sure.
Their last two albums Frankenchrist and Bedtime for Democracy are complete crap – skip ‘em.
To sum up – if you want to be a tr00 punk, listen to their first three albums, consult Wikipedia and you can drop ’80s era jokes/commentary like all tr00 oldz. (Fuckin’ Reagan screwed everything up, Reagan is the real cause of the financial crisis, etc, etc) If you want to ‘get your roots’, listen to the three songs I’ve posted here & get a DK patch for your jacket.