My Record Collection: #2 Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

Way back in the early 80’s, when I was just a dumb kid into what all the other dumb kids were into in the Midwest then, namely metal like Kiss and Judas Priest, this album was my first introduction to something that was truly subversive, something that really challenged what I thought of as music. This almost should have been number 1, as it was the first time I really listened to something that shook up my Rush and AC/DC filled world.

I first heard this was the summer I was 13 I think, which would be 1982. I am not even sure I liked it at first. It was sort of like the metal I was used to, but it was so fast and that Jello guy had a weird voice. But as I listened to it again and again it clicked in my head. The music was fascinating in a way that what I was used to listening to was not. And the lyrics where indeed subversive and political. It was an interesting time then. It was a time of Reagan and Thatcher dole queues the Moral Majority and the world was seemingly going a little crazy. In this just spat in the face of all that. It was exhilarating in a way, and it was probably the first time I really thought of things in a political way.

Jello Biafra became a bit of a touchstone for me at that time, in high school. I remember buying Frankenchrist (that was the one with the poster in it called Penis Landscape painted by H.R. Giger, the poster that got them tried in court for obscenity) in the best record shop Des Moines ever had, Vinyl Fetish. Remember record shops? You can say what you want about the 80’s but that was a marvelous time to discover music, no matter what you listened to.

I played that song on the radio at my high school’s radio station. I recall having no idea whether it was licensed or not or whether I was even legally allowed to play it. I didn’t care. My little salute to Dead Kennedys and the punk ethic.

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