The Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (1980)

AllMusic Review: A hyper-speed blast of ultra-polemical, left-wing hardcore punk, and bitingly funny sarcasm, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables stands as the Dead Kennedys’ signature statement. As one of the first hardcore albums, it was a galvanizing influence on the musical and attitudinal development of the genre, also helping to kickstart the fertile California scene. The record’s tactics are not subtle in the least; Jello Biafra’s odd warble and spat-out lyrics leave no doubt as to what he thinks, baiting his targets of conservatism, violence, overbearing authority, and capitalist greed with a viciously satirical sarcasm that keeps his unflinchingly political outlook from becoming too didactic. The thin production dilutes some of the music’s power, but the ragged speed-blur still packs a wallop, and the hooks cribbed from surf and rockabilly give it a gonzo edge. The songwriting isn’t consistent all the way through the album, but classics like “Kill the Poor,” “Let’s Lynch the Landlord,” “Chemical Warfare,” “California Über Alles,” and “Holiday In Cambodia” helped define the hardcore genre and, thus, must be heard. — Steve Huey

Track Listing:

All tracks are written by Jello Biafra, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Kill the Poor” Biafra, East Bay Ray 3:07
2. “Forward to Death” 6025 1:23
3. “When Ya Get Drafted” 1:23
4. “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” 2:13
5. “Drug Me” 1:56
6. “Your Emotions” Ray 1:20
7. “Chemical Warfare” 2:55
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “California über alles” Biafra, John Greenway 3:03
2. “I Kill Children” 2:04
3. “Stealing People’s Mail” 1:34
4. “Funland at the Beach” 1:49
5. “Ill in the Head” Biafra, 6025 2:46
6. “Holiday in Cambodia” Dead Kennedys 4:37
7. “Viva Las Vegas” (Elvis Presley cover) Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman 2:42
Total length: 33:06


Schill Score:  7.5/10


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