Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables; In God We Trust, Inc.; Bedtime for Democracy — — Album Review

Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables; In God We Trust, Inc.; Bedtime for Democracy

Weekly Review:

The Dead Kennedys are one of greatest bands to emerge from the Southern California punk scene of the
1980s. They bridged the gap between Johnny Rotten’s caustic politics and the hardcore intensity of
Black Flag.
The band’s influential debut has been reissued with a new mix, while a couple of the Dead Kennedy’s
other projects are also newly available.
Issued in 1980, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables remains an invigorating, if disarming, listen. Lead
singer Jello Biafra makes up for his unconventional vocal style with passion and snark. From opening cut
“Kill the Poor” to the album closing cover of “Viva Las Vegas” it’s not readily apparent if the band is
laughing at or with the listener. “California Uber Alles” and “Holiday in Cambodia” have become staples
of many punk mixtapes and compilation and for good reason. It’s not often searing political statements
rock this hard. Other high points include “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” and “Funland at the Beach.” The
new mix cleans up the instrumentation as much as possible for a lo-fi underground album recorded on a
small budget.
The EP In God We Trust, Inc. appeared a year after Fresh Fruit and continues the Kennedys’ ferocious,
confrontational style. The opening one-two of “Religious Vomit” and “Moral Majority” expose the
album’s thesis, but the minute-long “Nazi Punks F-k Off” remains the band’s best song. A cover of

“Rawhide” closes the 14-minute release. Like “Viva Las Vegas,” it is hard to tell if the performance is
earnest or a prank.
By the time Bedtime for Democracy came out in 1986, Biafra and his bandmates were weary. This time,
the album opens with a cover – David Allen Coe’s “Take This Job and Shove It.” At 21 songs and nearly
50 minutes, it’s the band’s longest album. Bedtime for Democracy turned out to be the final Dead
Kennedys album. While it doesn’t the same highs as their debut, it’s still a strong, blistering statement
against the status quo. -Joel Francis