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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 26 September 2016
If you look at at any 'Top 10/20/50 Hardcore/Punk' albums of all time chart, being online, in a magazine, YouTube video or whatever, you are highly likely to find this, perhaps the most famous Dead Kennedys' album, somewhere on the list, and more often than not the top half. I know very little of this band really so I'll spare you a history lesson, what I do know, is that this is a kick ass album!
Punk is often very unfairly derided as Metal's dumb, nontechnical cousin, filled by poor guitarists, average vocalists but an occasional top drawer drummer. It's albums like 'Fresh Fruit...' that smash the stereotype to bits!
Being a guitarist, I was surprised how complex songs like 'Holiday In Cambodia' are. It's not your standard 'power chords only' punk song, and is more reminiscent of 'Surfer Rock' with a mean streak than anything else. OK, it's not exactly a 10 minute+ Steve Vai fretboard marathon, but it showcases a great understanding of melody, keys and shows there is much more to the genre than chugging power chords and ska beats. East Bay Ray may just be one of the most under-rated guitarists of all time.
The latter track is one of the highlights ('...Cambodia'), and the track listing is done very effectively, so that the album builds up to that track as its undoubted highlight, which is then followed by an excellent and fun cover of Elvis Presley's 'Viva Las Vegas.' Other highlights include 'Kill The Poor,' 'Let's Lynch The Landlord,' and 'California Uber Alles.'
Jello Biafra's vocals are also very unique, no doubt it'll have some detractors, but the the almost gleeful way he delivers the raw, harsh violence of his lyrics is something to behold, as it melodically suits the music whilst also verbally contradicting the feel good vibes.
The production has aged magnificently well. I assume this CD has been remastered(?), if not, it's a remarkable achievement of mixing! All elements are well represented and still very raw and punk, whether it's East Bay Ray's echo-fuelled slides and arpeggios to Biafra's OTT vocals, you can't help but feel amazed this album is nearly 40 years old!
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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 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 11 August 2002
It's ironic that as time goes on, the less "punk" bands resemble punk. I was among the 3rd generation of white/suburban Southern California punk rockers (i.e. Mohawk, 14-hole doc's, and plenty of black t-shirts), from the early to middle 90's. Even then there was very little remaining that was truly "punk", and then-as now- you had to go back to the classics. This album is a classic, and amazingly, as others have been quick to point out, a lot of the messages still remain poignant. Of course references to Reagan and Thatcher are out dated, but it's no real stretch of the imagination to insert the names Bush and Blair, is it? It's kind of sad that the issues this album, and its siblings, address are still around. It's even more sad that DK's reunited (minus Jello) for a "we need money for retirement" tour. I still listen to this album almost 10 years after first listening to it, and indeed having grown out of the punk scene. I'm not sure if it's because of reasons of nostalgia, or because there's only so much meaningless music one can listen to before they need a little holiday. Not however in Cambodia >:P.
Musically this album is certainly not the brightest star in the constellation, but that never was the point of punk music. It's not as hard as GBH, or the Exploited, but lyrically it's light years beyond most punk music, and most music for that mater. It's not that Jello broached subjects nobody wanted to touch, but he wrote about things that no one even wanted to think about. Back in the 80's Reagan was a god in the states, and very few criticized the man who wanted to be taken seriously. Jello seemed to have a personal vendetta against the man, and his regime, and contemporary America that lasts to this day. And while you don't have to agree with what Jello has to say, it's foolish to ignore it outright. Especially as the more insidious aspects of yank culture spread their tentacles around this little planet (i.e. McDonalds, Baywatch, Britney Spears). This is like music for the resistance movement. Absolutely essential for any aspiring/self-respecting punk rocker.
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VINE VOICEon 29 April 2008
The Dead Kennedys debut album Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables was originally released in September 1980 ( On Cherry Red records in the U.K., though it gained a later release on the bands own Alternative Tentacles label).Coming on the coat tails of the original punk movement- which had now morphed into post-punk the album showcased a harder edged hardcore tinged sound with genuinely political themes. It is in fact more a punk album in true punk attitude than just about any released during punks halcyon years.
The music is frenetic and loud but has a real songwriters nous behind the surf punk mayhem. It is not just a barrage of vociferous pummelling rhythms . The odd song apart this is a fiercely intelligent yet aggressive disembowelling of classic American AM rock. The playing too is incredible with Klaus Fluoride providing jet streamed fluid bass while the guitar of East Bay Ray, who also produced, is just sensational , especially on "Holiday In Cambodia" which in my humble opinion is one of the greatest guitar led tracks ever.What makes it even more impressive is the entire album was recorded live with the only additions being backing vocals, courtesy of various guests and some rhythm guitar.
Lyrically too, this is a tremendous album with Jello Biafra providing some of the most stringent satirical barbs ever committed to tape .It,s like Bill Hicks fronting Minor Threat.....or indeed The Dead Kennedys. Biafra lambastes the left and Governor Jerry Brown on "California Uber Alles", the right on "Kill The Poor" and the closeted middle class on "Holiday In Cambodia". Avarice and stupidity in society are lampooned mercilessly though the band are not above a bit stupidity themselves as their breathless cover of "Viva Las Vegas " proves. Biafra,s voice , like Johnny Rotten before him, is very distinctive with a tangible warble adding to the caustic sneer.
This special edition has an extra CD with different versions of "Kill The Poor" and "Holiday In Cambodia" which are,nt as good as the originals but still worth a listen. There is also the notorious and to be honest slightly asinine "Too Drunk To F**K". The other extra tracks are,nt that great but completists will no doubt be thrilled by their inclusion. The most striking aspect about this album , apart from the music of course, is that the very things that Jello Biafra is railing against are if anything even more prevalent today. A song like "Kill The Poor" has even more resonance in George W Bush,s America of 2008 than it did in 1980....same in Britain under New Labour(Though it may have to be amended to Tax The Poor).Which begs the question where are the contemporary bands with the same sense of outrage and indignation as The Dead Kennedys?
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