Dead Kennedys, Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

Jack Rabid

By Jack Rabid

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The classic album that launched a thousand Cali-punks

Great music, great history. So few of the 1977-79 West Coast punks had managed to make LPs (most barely eked out seven-inch singles) that this one's rapid takeover of the 1980 rock underground was a shock. Even more than the Germs, X, Circle Jerks and Black Flag, Fresh Fruit spearheaded a California — then national — punk/hardcore explosion during 1980-82. But it's not just a touchstone; the album remains a riotous classic, and this infamous bunch's finest. Its tunes are bitingly catchy; the young Jello Biafra's lyrics were filled with astonishingly funny yet piercingly black sarcasm ("Kill the Poor," "Stealing People's Mail," "When Ya Get Drafted," "Let's Lynch the Landlord"); East Bay Ray's guitar is a marvel of echo-y surf/spy/rockabilly/garage lines that hadn't previously been part of punk and, besides Agent Orange, haven't really been since; bassist Klaus Fluoride is a humming engine, as heard on his opening of the immortal, sinister-scary, sardonic "Holiday in Cambodia"; and drummer Ted's (just Ted) in-the-pocket playing was a perfect fit. Essential.