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Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

by Dead Kennedys

Released September 2, 1980 via Cherry Red Records / Alternative Tentacles

Reviewed September 3, 2020

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Holiday In Cambodia (74%), Kill the Poor (63%), California Über Allies (47%)

An early landmark record for the genre, Dead Kennedys’ debut album perfectly executes and embodies many of punk’s greatest characteristics. The blitzing pace that the band plays at is to be expected, but the level of complexity displayed within that was largely unprecedented in a genre that often prioritized raw and to-the-point bursts of energy. This can best be heard through East Bay Ray’s guitar playing, which serves as a driving force on much of the record. But it certainly does not stop there, as the songwriting is what really solidifies Dead Kennedys spot in history. Predominantly written by outspoken vocalist Jello Biafra, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables is as political as it gets. Taking aim at corrupt and greedy politicians, heinous and unnecessary war practices, and the many pitfalls of capitalism, Dead Kennedys use a combination of humor, satire, and outright anger to create some of the most clever political commentary that music has seen. – Dominick (10/10)

Dead Kennedys’ debut album is a prime example of how to make politically-driven punk music: fast-paced, aggressive instrumentals mixed with sheer hatred for the government shouted in your face. It elegantly gets to the core of what makes punk great, all while giving some of the most memorably political lyrics ever recorded. Each member is arguably amongst the best in their respective field, and the youthful energy they exert is pure brilliance. 40 years removed, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables is arguably even more relevant today than upon its initial release. – Jared (10/10)

The Dead Kennedys’ debut album had a major impact on the burgeoning US hardcore punk scene of the late 70's/early 80's, both transforming and adhering to punk's DIY aesthetics. Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables was the first record to be released on independent record label Alternative Tentacles, a label that would become home to bands such as Bad Brains, Hüsker Dü, and The Butthole Surfers at various points in their careers. Jello Biafra's comical approach to delivering politically charged messages makes it that much more potent and it is what set them apart from the rest of the punk scene. Their serious subject matter—served with a somewhat lighthearted, acerbic approach—is utterly captivating. Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables is only half an hour in length, making it short and sharp as it travels at break-neck speed. It's long enough to make its point, but it never overstays its welcome. – Peter (8.5/10)

Cam: 10/10 | Dominick: 10/10 | Hadley: 10/10 | Jared: 10/10

Enth: 8.5/10 | Peter: 8/10 | DeVán: 7.5/10


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