Twenty-five years later, what more can be said about the Dead Kennedys’ debut? Nothing new, really. At the time of its release, the album warned the kids that everything is not all right. Today, the kids still recognize that everything is not all right. Back then, speed and riffs got ’em flippin’ their wigs. (Now…what’s that band with the Idiot album?) So, to celebrate this anniversary, very little needs to be done except remind all the young punks about this record’s existence: Make sure it’s out there and they will come.
Of course, nothing with the Dead Kennedys could be that simple.
Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: 25th Anniversary Edition is a product of the band’s storied history. Since the rift between the “band” – guitarist East Bay Ray, bassist Klaus Flouride and drummer D.H. Peligro – and “the” band – frontman Jellö Biafra – first fissured, the two factions have struggled over legal ownership of the group’s work and placed the Kennedys’ legacy in a tug-of-war. With the ball in the “band’s” side of the court, this two-disc set seems to confirm every punk’s worst fear: that Dead Kennedys could succumb to nostalgia.
Although the album is left intact (the absence of outtakes, let alone b-sides, is quite curious), a bonus DVD features a fifty-five-minute documentary with input from band members (Ray and Flouride), former colleagues (promoter Dirk Dirksen, former manager Chi Chi, Biafra’s ex-wife Ninotchka), fans and critics. Biafra’s input is noticeably absent as each contributor joyfully trips down memory lane.
But the matured tone of the doc adds a needed dimension to the group: a human side. Incredible yet dated live footage along with present-day recollections make clear that Dead Kennedys was a force of its time, regardless of who has ownership of the group’s work. And if that makes you look forward to death, well, you know what to do…
Manifesto Records Web site