A benchmark of the political hardcore movement, the Dead Kennedys’ debut left a significant stain upon its original 1980 release. Vocalist Jello Biafra’s incisive and satirical lyrics coupled with East Bay Ray’s subverted surfrock guitar stood out against the scene’s increasingly generic sound. Early DKs material was influenced by the militancy of Crass and also took direction from The Clash by addressing wider societal issues as opposed to single-issue politics.
Brimming with ideas and tunes despite the lyrical confrontation, the DKs lampooned everything from the American dream to the punk scene itself and even nihilistic misanthropy – as on the shockingly jaundiced Forward To Death.
The long-running feud between ex-vocalist Biafra and the rest of the band who now control the Dead Kennedys' back catalogue (guitarist East Bay Ray, bassist Klaus Flouride, drummer DH Peligro) has seen Biafra voice his displeasure over this release, issuing a dismissive ‘let the buyer beware’ communiqué.
Fresh Fruit’s original release sounded toppy and low-fi – a raw garage tone that was arguably part of its appealing passion and urgency. Nonetheless, mixed by veteran industry engineer Chris LordAlge, this version delivers a fuller clarity of sound, most notably on early classic like the knowing Holiday In Cambodia, the distressing Chemical Warfare and the comical yet subversive cover of Viva Las Vegas.