Punk Rock Retrospective: Dead Kennedys’ Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

So this is where it all begins: a punk rock ’70s San Francisco. Jello Biafra. Klaus Flouride. East Bay Ray. Punk rock legends the Dead Kennedys. It’s remarkable how the Dead Kennedys splashed onto the scene; their name, imagery, and status preceded them. Always provoking thought and questioning the contemporary mindset [throughout their career], this is the album that introduced the world to what would define a major part of punk rock history.

Esoteric and often frantic, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables is a seminal American album. It’s too easy to say that this album is through the roof; from East Bay Ray’s reverb to Jello’s audacious lyrical stylings, Fresh Fruit will strip the paint off your parents’ walls.

And it rocks on another level too.

Many of Jello’s lyrics are subjectively disturbing, but not without a distinct sense of irony. It’s his way of painting the tale, not unlike the way a psychotic murderer utilizes crime as artistic expression. Take the song “I Kill Children” for example. Shocking, yes, but it’s unmistakeably an aspect of the American mindset. How apalling, the thought of killing children. But what drives this individual? Why the obsession, the aversion from what is mainstream, normal? The Dead Kennedys raise these questions unabashed, unlike any other band at the time, regardless of genre.

Other issues are tackled as well: racism; class struggles; power; politics; war… all with a tongue stuck out at the tainted American imagery of the era. That’s right, people like Alexander Haig & Ronald Reagan aren’t spared.

Perhaps the best song on the whole album, in my opinion, is the song “Looking Forward to Death,” which is the second track. Not only is it the epitome of what the Dead Kennedys sound like and what they stand for, it signifies a certain playfulnesss with the punk attitude that shifted so much throughout the late 70s/ early 80s.

The Dead Kennedy’s Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables is a must have for anyone whose every associated themselves with Punk Rock (those are capital P’s and R’s there), whether they like it or not.

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