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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 23 June 2004
This may be one of the finest debut albums ever made. The Dead Kennedys were without a doubt the finest political punk band and this album shows why. Every track is a killer from the anti-war anthems "Kill the Poor", "When Ya Get Drafted", "Chemical Warfare" and the masterpiece "Holiday In Cambodia" to the teenage authority hating "Forward To Death", "Let's Lynch The Landlord", and "California Uber Alles".
What makes this album special though is the sheer genius of the lyrics. Although the titles don't give much away (in fact they sound retarded) the lyrics are cleverly constructed and observed though sadly overlooked. The instrumentation is also superb. East Bay Ray has the weirdest guitar sound in punk and the drums and bass never miss a beat.
From the beginning right up to the fading guitar chord of "Viva Las Vegas" (their best cover) this is fascinating exhilerating and essential listening. And it isn't even their best album!
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on 11 January 2002
Oh lord! Finally got round to buying myself a record player and dug out my old vinyl. The christening record was this fine, fine album.
Ten years on since I bought it as an angry (skinny, white, middle class) youth, it still gets the blood pumping. Jello Biafra's cartoon radicalism, Easy Bay Ray's sick in the head surf guitar and a lightning-fast rhythm section crackles with energy. Attacking the political left ("California uber alles"), the political right ("Kill the Poor"), cosy middle class kids (like me!! guilty as charged!!) ("Holiday in Cambodia") and pretty much anyone who strays into his crosshairs, Jello Biafra pours forth bile and invective, but with enough wit and originality to carry you along with him, all driven at merciless speed by searing punk guitar and (don't say this too loud) belting melodies. And they're not above a bit wanton stupidity - witness the witless magnificence of Viva Las Vegas given a DK enema!
So, OK, not all the songs are classics, the production is, errm, rudimentary and perhaps Jello Biafra takes himself a touch too seriously (much more so on later albums where it gets a bit hard to take, as evidenced by the bonus tracks). But this is a blinder. Buy it, leap around your room, annoy your neighbours and regret that you will never have the balls to firebomb your office.
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on 23 May 2006
To the guy who said this is over-rated, you are obviously allowed your own view. Me? I saw them back in 1980 or so. I was a punk back in the late 70s to early 80s. I also love a lot of metal and this album is way up in my top albums of all time - along with the Pistols 'Never mind the Bollocks', SLF 'Inflammable Material' and newer faves like QotSA 'Songs for the deaf'.

Yes, Jello's vocals take a bit of getting used to but nobody puts as much passion into what they sing about as he did on this album. He voices his anger, cynicism and other feelings as well as Jake Burns on Inflammable Material.

My 17 year old son absolutely loves this album - up there with other faves of his by SOAD, Foo Fighters etc.

Go on, you know it makes sense.
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on 19 April 2012
1. Kill The Poor
2. Forward To Death
3. When Ya Get Drafted
4. Let's Lynch The Landlord
5. Drug Me
6. Your Emotions
7. Chemical Warfare
8. California Uber Alles
9. I Kill Children
10. Stealing People's Mail
11. Funland at the Beach
12. Ill In The Head
13. Holiday In Cambodia
14. Viva Las Vegas
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on 14 September 2002
Wow, one of my favourite albums, even though it was made about five years before I was born.
I got into them after downloading Kill the Poor, and Holiday in Cambodia, and any person foolish to say that file sharing is a bad idea is a retard. I must have bought 10 different CDs as a result of downloading their songs. Anyway, back to the music........
Most of the album is amazing with only a couple of weak songs put in for shock value, like "I kill children" (satirical, but still....) Standouts are "Holiday IC", "Kill The Poor" (showing Biafras amazingly sharp wit), and "California Uber Alles" another amazing song, packed full of venom at Govenor Jerry Brown. Whether hes real or not, I dont know, but he aint painted in a favourable light here. "I will be FÜhrer one day, I will command all of you, Your kids will meditate in school" and "Now it is 1984, Knock knock at your front door, It's the suede/denim secret police, They have come for your uncool neice"
Jellos lyrics and voice are amazing, and the rest of the band are great too, not just a vehicle for Biafra's messages, although when they need to be, they take a back seat. East Bay Rays guitar work is amazing, somehow he manages to make his GUITAR sound angry and frustrated itself, never mind the guitarist himself.
I find it quite appaling, upsetting and basicly embarrasing that the many things that Jello and Co were complaining about havent been addressed in the last 20 years. The poor are still poor, America doesn't care about any other country in the world, and the multinational companies are still prepared to bulldoze the last rainforests to save about £10 on land to graze cattle (MacDonalds, I'm talking to you) Thats deeply depressing.
So anyway, if you like almost any sort of punk, the anger of the Sex Pistols in some songs, the fooling about of Blink 182 in others, the anti establishment attacks of NOFX, buy this album. The Offspring are huge fans apparently. Listen to this album to find out where the likes of "Keep Em Separated (Come Out And Play)" and "The Kids Aren't Alright" came from, simply listen to this album. Everything punk should be.
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on 3 September 2014
Something that I like about the rating system ar AMG is that you also get to pick half-points. That's what I would have done here - I would have ticked 4.5. It's that mega-good, but you know how it is. It's not Exile on Main St, or Revolver, or even Blood On the Tracks, Dark Side of the Moon or OK Computer. But it's such a punk classic that it deserves more than four stars. So imagine now that it's 4.5. Why? It's raw. It's angry. The lyrics are nearly as clever as Dylan's, and he's kind of a punk too, although ahead of its time. The music is top notch throughout - how on Earth is it possible to be on the bar at a hundred miles per hour? What with the speed they play, who checks whether they play it right anyway. What's right, anyway? "Holiday in Cambodia" must be my favorite, and while it's not exactly clear whether Mr. Biafra knows what he wants to say, we feel that he should run for President once more, every time he sings.
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on 23 May 2002
then sell something so that you can buy it. This is punk. This is what punk is about. This CD together with Plastic Surgery Disaster/In god we trust is by far the best punk rock album/s you can buy. Jello Biafra has no equal when it comes to delivering strong, political and a lot of the times vary funny lyrics. It is a hard hitting album that is as relevant now as it was when it was released. Buy it!!!
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on 28 November 2003
It must be said that DK are one of the all time great bands, and like Nirvana and Sex Pistols I wasnt in the right place at the right time to see them live. The only other DK album Ive got is the posthumous "Give Me Convenience" complilation so I cant say if this is the best... but its a bloody good start to a great but short career.
The tracks on this album sum up much of DKs trademark sound, the fast slashed barre chords, the powerful drumming, the noodly surf guitar riffs and Jello's razor sharp satirical lyrics. All in all you will find it difficult to find a much more powerful and yet restrained debut in the history of punk. And then theres the songs.
You will find it difficult to find a punk worth his/her salt that doesnt absolutely love the seminal trio of "Kill The Poor", "Holiday In Cambodia" and lets "Lynch The Landlord". Off all the songs that came out of the early 80's San Francisco Hardcore though, there is probably none more classic than DK's debut 7", "California Uber Alles", an attack on then SF Governor Jerry Brown.
As aggressive as the tracks are on this album, they never turn into 100 miles an hour hardcore blasts. The blasts would rear their head on the follow up 10", In God We Trust. The "Vegetables" lp may not of matched the all out fury of later classics such as Nazi Punks F*** Off" but the album did still help move the punk cause away from punk rock into the domain of hardcore.
The Bad Brains may have been Hardcore's muscle, but the Dead Kennedy's were its mind.
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on 15 June 2004
I bought this on a CD shopping spree, because I'd heard the name many times and knew it was something to pick up. I don't really remember if I chose this one in particular because it was the first, but I think that may have been a factor. The important thing is that this album *rocks* with true punk spirit. It's still really really fresh as though it was written only last week, rather than decades ago. My personal favourite tracks are California Über Alles and Holiday In Cambodia. Biafra is a lyrical master and the whole band have so much energy, you can't help but bounce up and down while listening to it. You *need* this album in your collection, it's a seminal work of punk at its best.
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on 19 July 2011
This is the 4th time I've bought this album; 2 x vinyl, 1 CD and now digital download. Original vinyl was stolen and replaced and then wore out, and the CD version is considerably aged now. The digital version sounds really good and has a bit more punch at the lower end. Well, I've been listening to this album for over 30 years now and never tire of it, it is a true classic in my opinion.
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