This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

"Like the guy who fires blanks at his TV when Kojack's on" - Dead Kennedys, Pt. 2

So has it really been two weeks since I last posted? Right in the midst of a multi-parter, too. Well, Andrea was in town, my choice basically boiled down to 1) write this here blog or 2) have sex four times a day with my girlfriend. Yeah, it was like pitting Steve Austin against a kid with cerebal palsey.

So anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. In May of '81, Dead Kennedys released their ever-controversial single "Too Drunk to Fuck," which was a gloriously vulgar departure from their spaghetti-western agitprop. Ridiculously catchy and oddly danceable (whenever I throw a party, Kathleen insists I play it at least twice and that I dance with her both times), it did surprisingly well on the British charts, which made some people nervous. If it made it to #30 or higher on the charts, they would be obligated to mention the song and invite the band to perform on the highly-rated TV program Top of the Pops. However, the song very conveniently stalled at #31 (oh, the days before SoundScan).

For a follow-up, the band released Plastic Surgery Disasters, a masterpiece. Side A is given over to their meth-tempo minor-key hardcore, highlighted by Peligro's manic pounding and Ray's feedback-laden leads, which together sound for all the world like acid rain hitting a tin roof. Side B is where the true magic is, as the band flexes their considerable musical muscle; Klaus Fluoride's fluid, sinewy bass lines (superbly mixed, I might add) create an undercurrent of danger and dread, over which Ray builds aural monuments to the visions of apocalypse held by every miscreant malcontent who feared given a senile old man access to the nuclear red button. The rage and paranoia and black humor is sharpened to a razor's edge by the full-bore performance of Biafra, who creates moments of tension so palpable you feel like you're at the nadir of a bungee-cord dive. "Riot," with it's give-and-take tempo changes and inferno noise rock, is the obvious highlight, but the enviornmental wasteland balled "Moon Over Marin," the country piss-take of "Winnebago Warrior," and the acid-waltz bridge of "I Am the Owl" are all standouts on an album full of them.

For all its progressive qualities, not even Plastic Surgery Disasters could have prepared the traditionally uptight troglodyte punks who feared change like cavemen feared fire for Frankenchrist, the apex of Dead Kennedys' musical trajectory. Taking then-unheard-of song lengths (5:00+, gasp!) for a punk band, DK slowed the tempos and let the music do as much talking as Biafra's cynical lyrical crosshairs. The twising "Soup is Good Food" makes you feel like you're in a rat maze, while the Old West horns of "MTV Get Off the Air" sound like a six-shooter showdown with the worst thing to happen to music since teenagers acquired some sort of buying power. "At My Job," with its monotonous, mechanical synthesizers really does sound like the time between 4:00 and 5:00 PM when all you can do is think about happy hour and pray the phone doesn't ring. The whole affair reeks of neon signs and frightening urban streets at night and a man lurking in an alley with a switchblade and a society that can't keep going on this way before something really bad happens. I've described it as Led Zeppelin for people who fucking hate Led Zeppelin, but that doesn't really do it justice.

However, Frankenchrist ended up causing more trouble than the av-er-age punk record, and it resulted in Biafra being the first musician being put on trial for obscenity in America, but that's for tomorrow thrilling conclusion. See you then, campers!

Too Drunk to Fuck:

Life Sentence:

Well-Paid Scientist:


I Am the Owl:

Soup is Good Food:

This Could Be Anywhere:

Goons of Hazzard:


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