Ah, ‘Fresh Fruit’ – West coast hardcore punk rock has been remixed from the original multitrack tapes by Chris Lord-Alge (Chaka Khan, Green Day, Bruce Springsteen). The band’s debut album which originally came out way back in September 1980 is still as politically incendiary and trail-blazing now as it was back in the day.
Provocative and in your face it was adrenaline-mainlined punk rock. With some fantastic musicianship, lyrics, and artwork to boot. So it seems fair that such an iconic record gets the 40th-anniversary re-release and remix. Now When this LP hit the streets it took an age to have an impact on this side of the pond remember kids there was no internet or TikTok back in the 80s hell there wasn’t much of anything you had to wait for the word to reach the cool kids or the ones with penpals across the pond. The Dead Kennedys (fantastic name) ply a hardcore superfast style that was nowhere at the time they took what the Ramones did or the Damned to the umnpth degree and crossed the divide and probably helped invent thrash metal as a byproduct. Apart from being overtly political they were also amusing and funny and brought humour to the music as well.
The artwork was a big deal I remember seeing the burning cop cars and thinking what the fuck! Right from the off it was a head fuck from Jello’s chaotic manic vibrato vocals to the surf reverb and speed the band delivered the tunes it was exciting then and to be fair has stood the test of time and is exciting now. I always thought The DKs deserved a fuller better production and now with the use of modern technology they have it. ‘Kill The Poor’ is like Elvis on Crack and sped up something that was probably on the bands mind at the time as they deliver an insane cover of ‘Viva Las Vegas to close the record off.
The intro to ‘Forward To Death’ is Ramones with speed as Jello spits out the lyrics it was always a song that had me hooked on the lyrics and just what was it he was singing about. Apart from the excitement of the speed of it all it drew me in as a kid and I still appreciate it now for its sheer brutality and the yang to that ying is its beauty as a piece of work the scooby doo solo on ‘When You Get Drafted’.
The first time they take a breath is the magnificent ‘Lets Lynch The Landlord’. I still don’t know what the fuck is being sung on ‘Drug Me’. The controversial song titles still even now make you wonder how they managed to not get into more hot water than they did. ‘Drug Me’, ‘Chemical Warfare’ the truly epic ‘I Kill Children’, ‘Holiday In Cambodia’ are all still relevent today and must have caused such a stir in 1980.
Some of the band’s finest work is present and correct like the aforementioned ‘Holiday In Cambodia’ and the magnificent ‘California Uber Alles’ which is rightly one of punk rock’s finest moments with its memorable chant-along chorus. It’s an album that sounds like being kicked in the bollocks can be fun and a headbutt is fine and dandy because not a lot has moved forward in 40 years. Look at Trump and Brexit to see what a clusterfuck the western world still makes for its people – shit Jello was raging against back then is still an issue now sadly. Maybe there will be a digitalized car burning somewhere soon and playing on the radio will be Fresh Fruit For Rotting Veg. Hell if you already own a copy then get this new mix it’s great and the record still stands up as a classic. Long live the Dead Kennedys in their original form – truly magnificent beasts.
Author: Dom Daley