In 1980, this album was unleashed to the world. Being a Punk band with attitude, led by Jello Biafra, the Dead Kennedys are satirists supreme. This is still recognized as their best album to this day, and it sure is a fun listen. Let’s find out why this is so.
We begin with Kill The Poor which begins with extremely trebly guitars and Jello Biafra’s unmistakable singing. It’s difficult to tell if this song is for real or not, especially with the band’s political stance, but still it is a good listen. It mustn’t be a serious statement, but as music, this is awesome. The musicianship here is very good, being very Punk Rock and full of attitude. Great start to the album.
Next is Forward To Death which is loud and moaning from Jello Biafra about wanting to die. It’s not serious by the way, and just sounds really great. Super short, at only one minute long.
When Ya Get Drafted comes next, which is a laugh about political matters, and being drafted for war. It talks lyrically about political measures to conscript others to the cause of war. Musically, it has a number of different elements in it to propel it along, so listen out for those. Once again, a very short listening experience.
Let’s Lynch The Landlord comes along next. It is a very interesting and brutal statement about the tyranny of landlords, and the revenge plans that one can have against them. There is a psychedelic guitar solo here as well. A great musical statement, and very political and nasty. Good song though.
Following is Drug Me which has a super fast delivery by Jello Biafra and an organ in the chorus. This sounds like a guy on speed, and wanting to be drugged up to the eyeballs. It isn’t at all a serious statement, and is a bit of a rant against society. Great song, and a classic in its own right.
After that is Your Emotions which is a slower piece that is about internal emotions. “You’re so bo-ring, bo-ring, bo-ring!” claims Jello Biafra to the audience. Very short at barely over a minute long, it is a good song.
Chemical Warfare comes next, and is another song about the realities of war. This is a longer and riff driven piece that sounds excellent and has some great musicality about it. These guys obviously knew their craft. The mock fairground part precedes the chemical warfare section, which is interesting and worth hearing, which is also hilarious. Great song.
California Uber Alles kicks off with drums and guitars, and is a brilliant statement about the then governor Jerry Brown in their state of California in the U.S.A. This is an awesome song, and has a great sense of musicality and satire about it. The breakdown with the guitars and the creepy lyrics make this a different listen. Brilliant music, and very funny.
Next is I Kill Children which seems obscene, which is probably correct. It’s not at all to be taken seriously, and seems messed up. It is, but musically is a good listen. This proves that you need not pay attention to lyrics 100% of the time to enjoy a song. Some false endings here are surprising, a good song anyway.
Following is Stealing Peoples’ Mail which is a strange story of the desire to steal other people’s mail. Musically, it is satire and great Punk Rock. It’s hard not to laugh at this one, and it sounds bizarre as something that someone would do. Great song.
Funland At The Beach has some interesting guitar parts to kick off with, before an awesome riff enters. This is more musical than lyrical, and seems odd. Likely because it is. The lyrics are not to be taken seriously at all. An excellent piece of music regardless.
Ill In The Head is a longer piece with some strange musical riffs in it. It is another piece that is purely nonsensical and not serious. It is a good piece regardless, with some expertly played musicality in it. Good to hear, once again.
Next up is Holiday In Cambodia which begins with some eerie guitar parts that sound totally odd. It is, once again, satire about taking an actual holiday in Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Some great riffs enter, and Jello Biafra sings about taking chances in one of the most authoritarian regimes in the world (at the time). Some gory imagery is mentioned as well. The midsection with the guitar solo is very catchy. Towards the end, the climax is brilliant, “Pol…Pot! Pol…Pot! Pol…Pot!” is chanted repeatedly. Great song.
Last is Viva Las Vegas which is a take on the Elvis Presley original, with original lyrics from the Dead Kennedys. Jello Biafra does a great Elvis impression, and the song itself is a parody of those who gamble their life savings at the Casinos there. Interesting and good listening, this is wacky.
This is a great Punk Rock album that, if you are prepared to listen to it, will make you laugh. Some of the lyrical context here is obscene, but it is not to be taken seriously. Musically, it has some bizarre elements to it, with a semi-Surf Rock feel to it. If you dig Punk Rock and want something totally bizarre, this is for you. A great, yet out there album.