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 The band was animate in protest over this decision, and the now rare orange cover was withdrawn and re-released with the original black cover.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.