I’ll admit a few things, though I recognize this isn’t a wise attempt before my first cup of coffee. I was not immediately blown away by Run the Jewels’ Junior effort, RTJ3. Ok, that’s the first thing. The second thing is, as highly recommended as this album comes, I’m banking on the idea that this album is a slow-grower, and will eventually become one of my favorite spins. The same blanket statement can be said (because it happened) for the entire Dead Kennedys library. So, here’s hoping RTJ can channel some Jello Biafra, at least within these reverberating walls.
Official Winston Smith page can be found here.
Welcome to 1984. Are you ready for the third world war?! So go the lyrics spewed forth by Jello (Wahoo) Biafra in 1981’s We’ve Got a Bigger Problem Now (not featured on the album in which this insert was showcased). The Crass-like art featured within the multi-page booklet from 1982’s Plastic Surgery Disasters by Bay-area social norm killers, Dead Kennedys, acts as a sort of a pictorial accompaniment to this amazing, yet sobering album. Pulling little to no stops, Mr. Biafra and team eject a string of disturbingly accurate observations on every day life back in Cold War 1982. Oh, how strikingly little things have changed some 33 years later. Anyway, enjoy the art!
Comp albums by the world’s most popular musical act are nothing new, exciting, and / or controversial, but double, colored LPs are a horse of a different color. While going to school up in Ventura, CA some years back, a record store, whose name I cannot recall, went out of business and was celebrating with a storewide ½ off sale. Among some German Simon & Garfunkel, clear vinyl Drive Like Jehu, original pressings of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, I acquired both this, 1978’s 1962 – 1966, and the blue vinyl sibling, 1967 – 1970 for $10 each. They had a Spinal Tap picture disc displayed on the wall… I wish I’d gotten that guy too. Anyway, there is a time and place for compilation albums. I’ve yet to find that hour and location, but I’m sure they exist.
Thinking of remodeling your lackluster bedroom? Why not try some punk-infused industrial goodness, aka LARD?! Math lesson: 101. Q: Dead Kennedys + Ministry = ??? A: LARD! I can throw a stone, hell, SEVERAL stones, MULTIPLE times, at everyone I know, and I won’t find ANYONE who’s into this band. Sounds like I need a new group of friends, does it not? Truth and honesty shoved down your throat with not so much as a chaser… let the LARD begin…
As far as Lard is concerned, it really doesn’t get much better than 1989’s The Power of Lard. “Pity the poor trainer, in the stable when the racehorse farts,” “It’s ok to run out of butter in Zambia, just smear squashed caterpillars on your toast,” and “Poison Oak really is the aphrodisiac of the Gods” are just the red hot tip of the frozen iceberg found within the band’s debut track.
Fast forward to 2000 with the release of the band’s 2nd EP (three tracks). Their fourth and final release, 70’s Rock Must Die unfortunately features more tongue than cheek, and is by far the band’s ill-fated gift. For you see, there really is no bad Lard album, track, phrase, loop, what-have-you, there’s just spitfire Industrial brilliance, and their other stuff.
Whilst listening to Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, it’s beyond evident to conclude, that although magnificent and majestic in his own right, Tim Hardin’s Tim Hardin 3 is much more socially acceptable than 1980’s FFfRV. I acknowledge that, of course, Mr. Hardin’s live offering is just, if not more fruitful as DK’s studio performance.. and all-the-more vibrant, I’m just exhausted and unable to prolong the unimaginable fight.
Tim Hardin > The Dead Kennedys
As the long-told, infrequently-forgotten story goes, the sunshine-happy-give-us-your-money band featured on the back cover of Dead Kennedy’s debut, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables was used without the band’s consent, and resulted in a threatened lawsuit causing variations of the Bay area’s backside cover art. LA-based Sounds of Sunshine (aforementioned sunshine-happy-give-us-your-money band), wasn’t quite satisfied with their work-around beheading, and the Dead Kennedy’s were forced to come up with a new back cover concept altogether (replaced the sunshine-happy-give-us-your-money band sans heads with four vintage living room-dwellers sitting under a framed Alternative Tentacles logo… subsequent lawsuit forthcoming).
If any morals are to be learned from this tug-and-pull fiasco, they are forever silenced by the timeless music contained within.
The 33 1/3 book series by Bloomsbury Publishing is a perfect collection of nerd-focused musical insight into the historical happenings of the development and recording of some of the most essential albums ever released (depending on whom you ask, of course… judge me not by this collection, you will). With 90 books currently published, and many more in the works (including upcoming releases that will warrant almost certain purchasing by yours truly… Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables; Freedom of Choice), my (current) collection of a measly 17 (or 5.29%) books from the series is, I feel, a decent start, and acts as a non-audio musical oasis of printed, historic pleasure.
I’ve finished The Village Green Preservation Society, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Led Zeppelin IV, Paul’s Boutique (working on my third time through… it’s that good), Use Your Illusion I and II, and Double Nickels on the Dime, and am currently in the wee pages of Let it Be. (Check out the 90 titles here.)
If you’re in the mood for a quick, compact, in-depth analysis of some of the more quintessential albums of modern day rock (generally), look no further than 33 1/3. They’re cheap, and they look majestic all lined up on a bookshelf, or so I tell my significant other.
We could all use a little Jello in our diets. Be it the “from concentrate” blend found in the Dead Kennedys, or the 100%, all-natural, organic pickings from Jello Biafra’s spoken word albums, this political-protein based truth-nutrition is part of a healthy, balanced diet, and it’ll help you shed those conservative love handles with little-to-no effort.
This anti-war, pro-lower & middle/working class, pro-education, pro-environment, pro-urban renewal, anti-mainstream media, anti-racism, promotional works of undivided freedom will be written off by some as terrorist propaganda, but that certainly doesn’t make it wrong, or worse, truthful. An exceptionally dense piece of work, this double LP is Jello’s third spoken word album, and requires repeat listens in order to absorb the steady waves of detailed and cited research that, for reasons that are all too obvious, make him a threat to a system set-up to keep the poor, the mute, and fearful at bay.
This should be required listening material for 6th graders across the nation. Black and white are not the only colors in this uniform spectrum we are all a part of, and what’s frustrating, is that so many will blindly say that black and white aren’t really colors at all. Distraction, the oldest and most powerful guise in maintaining power the world has ever known.
If you were stranded on a remote island (that conveniently harbored electricity, speakers and a bomb-ass turntable), and you were only allowed to pick three albums with which to spin for your remaining, ocean-gazing days, what three albums would they be?
For me, the first two albums were no-brainers. Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys, and The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks. Choosing the proper versions, both albums are double LPs (1998’s Grand Royal reissue and 2011’s mono/stereo split), so you’re already a leg up on the island dwelling competition. The third and final album requires much more, overanalyzed thought. Do you play it safe and pick Abbey Road? What about The Beatles, also known as the White Album? Or, do you skip the 12” format altogether and grab your favorite song, which just happens to be a post-hardcore thrasher by the obscure Wisconsin band, Defacto Oppression? Certainly NOT an easy decision to make (in this overly voluptuous hypothetical), second-guessing is sure to follow after the inevitably dreadful decision is (finally) made.
Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska garnishes some thought, but would probably be far too depressing… after all, these three albums will help feed, or deter the fact that you are, after all, stranded on a remote island. Emergency & I by the Dismemberment Plan is a considerably strong candidate, but would immediately be my number four pick. Bizarre Ride II (The Pharcyde), In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up (Live) (Ministry), This is Tim Hardin (Tim Hardin… duh), and Circa: Now! (Rocket from the Crypt) are all, exceptional lily pads on this thought pond, but none of them make the distinct cut.
London Calling (The Clash), Double Nickels on the Dime (Minutemen), Singles – 45’s and Under (Squeeze), Energy (Operation Ivy), Appetite for Destruction (Guns N’ Roses), which would easily be my number five pick, Black Monk Time (The Monks), and Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (Dead Kennedys) all lay floating in the salted sea of “never to enjoy again.” Damn, this post is depressing.
And the winner goes to… The Shape of Punk to Come… the quintessential soundtrack to my evasive youth wins the number three spot, and with little hesitation, I might add. Refused’s best, and another double LP, this top three has quickly turned into the top six, and would respectfully demonstrate, and/or adequately demolish my headspace for the rest of my delusional life. To pick three out of 2,800 is certainly NOT an easy gesture… if asked again tomorrow, I’d have a completely different roster. Oh, the joy, and immediate pleasure of viable options.
Oh, the power of LARD… three tracks, clocking in at just over 37 minutes, and the feeble-minded, tight-rolled pant leg sporting, baseball card collecting, 9-year-old version of myself would never be the same.
Now, keep in mind that it wasn’t until my college years that I was exposed to the all-star match-up between the repetitious poundings of industrial metal Godfathers, Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker, and the politically motivated snarls of Dead Kennedys’ frontman, Jello Biafra. I chuckle to myself in wondering what my 9-year-old self would have thought of this album upon hearing it back in 1989 when it was first released. I probably would have had a nervous breakdown and gone missing for three or four days. Oh, what could have been?
The Reagan Era produced arguably the best collection of anti-American, pro-working class Hardcore Punk this country has ever seen. Leading the pack of such inspiring bands as, Black Flag, Descendents, Minutemen, Bad Brains, Youth Brigade, Minor Threat, and Misfits, the uncompromising Dead Kennedys allowed for their front man, the eccentrically morbid-genius Jello Biafra, to satirically rave and rant about his dismal outlook on society… but you know, with wizard-like fervor.
Not unlike Frank Zappa’s sarcastic approach to lyric writing, Jello Biafra taunted the press, California Governor Jerry Brown, and the military draft (to name only a few), often to hilarious effect. Biafra could have easily been a strikingly successful stand-up comedian. He’s like that idiosyncratic great uncle that won’t shut up about ANYTHING that’s on his mind (“let’s lynch the landlord,” “drug me with your crossword puzzles,” “the economy is looking bad, let’s start another war,” stuff like that), but who isn’t at all incorrect in his genial ramblings. The music is fast and sometimes ventures into such conflicting genres as Rockabilly, Spaghetti Western and Surf.
Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables was originally released on September 2, 1980 in the UK with the familiar black cover. I.R.S. (the label, not the hording institution) issued an unauthorized orange cover for the album’s US debut. The band was animate in protest over this decision, and the now rare orange cover was withdrawn and re-released with the original black cover. I forgot that this version of the album drops in Police Truck on the first side between Let’s Lynch the Landlord and Drug Me. Police Truck isn’t released on the original UK version, but was instead offered as a b-side to the Holiday in Cambodia single.
Dead Kennedys landed a knockout blow with their debut, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. They would go on to produce only three more albums, but their immortal impact has proved to be timeless and infinitely unforgettable. If you can stomach fast, morbid Hardcore, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables comes deeply recommended.
I’ll be up in SF for a few days, but still wanted to submit my daily post. While up here, I thought I’d comment on SF bands that I find interesting (idea by Jason Hardwick). So, here is a list of a few SF area bands that I dig, with a youtube vid link to accompany them. Enjoy!
Their version of Summertime Blues is considered, by some, to be the first “Heavy Metal” track ever recorded. Blue Cheer formed in 1967.
Riddled with legal battles throughout their tenure (mainly 1985’s obscenity trial over the artwork from their Frankenchrist release), the Dead Kennedys were among the first US based Hardcore bands to gain discernible popularity in England. They formed in 1978.
Starting in 1981 under the name, Faith No Man, Faith No More saw a revolving door of lead vocalists until landing Mr. Bungle’s Mike Patton in 1988. 1992’s Angel Dust was considered to be highly influential throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. Their recent reunion notwithstanding, they parted ways in 1998.
Gaining popularity at almost galactic proportions, HL&N were a personal favorite of mine throughout my childhood. Huey’s cameo in Back to the Future still makes me chuckle. Huey’s real name is Hugh Anthony Cregg.
The first from the SF area to gain mainstream success during the psychedelic rock boom, Jefferson Airplane would morph into Jefferson Starship, then regrettably, just Starship. They formed in 1965 and ended their initial run in 1972.
CCR was a band that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to when riding in my Dad’s truck as a youngin’. Thinking they were a Southern band until I got wise, CCR, since the early days of my youth, has never been far out of reach. That can’t be said for many bands I’ve come across. I think the majority of my childhood musical favorites were deemed “not worthy” during my first years as a teenager. I blame Lords of the Underground and Onyx. CCR began as Tom Fogerty & the Blue Velvets, then changed their name to The Golliwogs before settling on Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR disbanded in 1972.
Oh, NOFX. There was a point in my life where I could simply not get enough NOFX. Those years have been put to sleep, but I still reminisce from time to time. Although they formed in Los Angeles in 1983, they currently create crass melodies up in the bay area, hence the inclusion on this list.
Active from only 1987-1989, and releasing only 1 studio album, Op Ivy went on to become underground cult Gods. Influencing such notable bands as Green Day, the majority of the Fat Wreck Chords cast, Sublime, and eventually turning into Rancid, the band of 4 energetic punk (ska-core to be specific) got their name from a series of American operated nuclear tests conducted on the Marshall Islands (in the northern Pacific Ocean) in 1952.
Avant-Garde Metal sensations, Primus launched into the public’s conscious back in 1984. Since then they’ve experienced several lineup changes, but never lost their original voice, bass player and lead singer Les Claypool. Claypool’s label, Prawn Song Records is a parody of the Led Zeppelin owned, Swan Song Records.
Another one of “those bands” that my father frequently played, the diggity Doobie Brothers are the subject of comedic utterance by Michael Douglas in the 1984 classic, Romancing the Stone. Don’t remember the line? Here it is. They also created some pretty bad-ass music. I’ve never met someone who’s admitting NOT liking the D. Bros. (They formed in San Jose, I know, but it’s close to SF. Give me a break.)