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The Top 6 Songs of The Dead Kennedys

posted by Nesa

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I

could have written also about the top 6 studio albums of the Dead Kennedys, but that would not make any sense since they released only 6. Their direct style burned forever in the memory of music history. They are not the kind of sticklers: they say what they think about society and politics, there is no beating around the bush here!

Pranksterism, direct action and absurdist media tactics are the keywords to understand their approach to the world. The Dead Kennedys were formed in June of 1978 after East Bay Ray (Raymond Pepperell) published an ad to hire members because he was impressed by a “punk show” in The Mabuhay Gardens, a San Francisco nightclub.

Ray was successful, the DK lineup looked like this: Jello Biafra (Eric Boucher) – vocals, East Bay Ray – guitar, Klaus Flouride (Geoffrey Lyall) – Bass, 6025 (Carlos Cadona) – drums. The first demo was recorded with this line-up.

In early July, the team found an experienced drummer, Ted (Bruce Slesinger), then 6025 left the band, but not for long, since on July 19 they invited him back as a guitarist. They prepared for their first concert, which was held in the aforementioned Mabuhay Gardens.

Due to the provocative name, the band came up several times under some other names such as “The Sharks”, “The Creamsicles” and “The Pink Twinkies.” Opposed to popular beliefs, the original name is not an attack against the Kennedy brothers who died due to assassinations. It just wanted to remind the people that the American dream is dead. 6025 left the group in March 1979.

In June, the first single was admitted to the California Über Alles, Alternative Tentacles studios. It then went on a relevant and recognized East Coast tour. On March 25, 1980, they invited them to play at the Bay Area Music Awards to give the event and the words of the organizers a kind of “new wave credibility.”

The band talked in a typically subversive and corrupt style on the show. Each member had a white T-shirt with a large black letter S in the middle and wore a black tie, which formed a dollar signal. When the first song(California Uber Alles), lasted 15 seconds, Biafra said “Hold it! We’ve gotta prove we’re adults now, we are not a punk band… We’re a new wave band.”

And then they started a song, Pull My Strings which contained this line: “Is my cock big enough, is my brain small enough, for you to make me a star”. The song was sent to The Knack, who was then a new wave band and their most well-known song was “My Sharona”. This one had never been recorded in the studio, it was the first and last time this song was played.

However, it was selected to appear on the “Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death…” album. After their show, the band was not invited to more award ceremonies. Let’s now investigate the top 6 songs of this San Francisco hardcore rock band.


6. Trust your mechanic

J

eloo here tries to unveil the hidden, shabby truths behind the glamour of the American dream life. He points out on the games played by the pharmaceutical companies which he claims not to be really fair. This a really sarcastic song, but at the same time funny and visionary.


5. Pull My Strings

T

his is sarcastic too, moreover, obscene! But again funny. Every song formulates some very definite standpoints, which may seem a little bit direct sometimes and you may not agree with them, but anyway, they are certainly thought-provoking.


4. Chickenshit Conformist

T

his song is about the dusk of punk rock. Jello here draws up self-criticism against his own movement. “Punk deserves to die” he claims. He also sets up his ideas about conformism and takes a rebellious, roughneck stance against the stagnation of the all-time parents.


3. Holiday in Cambodia

T

his is a very direct song again with a lot of criticism to those who are privileged. The lyrics are mocking the young, well-to-do Americans opposing their lifestyle with the ruthless dictatorship of Pol Pot in Cambodia, which is estimated to have been liable for the deaths of around two million people in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.


2. I am the Owl

I

am the Owl is a paranoid vision about the activity of the secret police in the USA. Claiming that everybody can be bumped if he stands in the way of the interests of certain people and at the end, we will all just remain on papers that will be forgotten.


1. MTV – Get Off the Air

T

his quote by Jello Biafra tells everything about this song: “It occurred to me early on that the name ‘Dead Kennedys’ was going to be enough that MTV would never play us anyway, so why bother?”

“Plus, how can you turn a Dead Kennedys song into some sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll thing… well, no, take out the drugs -it’s MTV- with me as the silent film comedian, mouthing the words, trying to look cute.”

“My stuff was never supposed to be cute, any more than it was supposed to be used in TV commercials or something like that. The purpose is to provoke, not to soothe.”


Discography:

  • 1980 -Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
  • 1981 -In God We Trust, Inc.
  • 1982 -Plastic Surgery Disasters
  • 1985 -Frankenchrist
  • 1986 -Bedtime for Democracy
  • 1987 -Give Me Convenience OR Give Me Death

T

hank you for reading our article about this hair-raisingly provocative but spirited and imaginative band. We do our best to entertain you and hope that you will read our next writing too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nesa (see all articles)

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