GENRE: Hardcore Punk-Rock
TOP TRACKS: All of them! That's right, EVERY SINGLE ONE.
As I wait for Earl Sweatshirt's Doris to drop this Tuesday so I can review some new music, I thought that I would review some more of my all time favorites again in classic album reviews. Right now, I'll start with the hardcore punk legends Dead Kennedys' debut record, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables.
I first heard this album when I was about 15 years old and it made me realize so many things about music in general. Forget just punk-rock. A) Music did not need to be catchy, sophisticated, or even serious to be profound and great and B) All of the musical purists and snobs in the world had no idea what music was supposed to sound like (including myself).
Even today, music fans, critics, and frankly even some musicians talk about how music is supposed to serious, music is supposed to be honest and sometimes even what music shouldn't be. "Music shouldn't be angry. Music shouldn't be joking. Music shouldn't be soft. etc" But the reality is that it really shouldn't be classified by any quality or characteristic at all. All music is different and each any every record ever made has a distinct quality, so can anyone generalize from this that music should "sound" like anything at all? It has always been mind-boggling to me and actually kind of annoying. Whether or not the Dead Kennedys intended to do this to their listeners, this record allowed me to realize from a relatively young age that the music you listen to can only truly be defined by you.
And to me personally this DK album is gritty, raw, and amusingly juvenile in the best possible way. The Dead Kennedys are notorious for their anarchist political views often placed within the heat of their songs so its tracks like "Chemical Warfare" that come across as fun at first, chilling the next moment and then pretty self-revealing the next moment. Although the Dead Kennedys were by no means societal poets, it's still really interesting to me to hear how the punk-rock community felt about the things that the government was doing during the early 1980's.
Some of the bass lines on this record are absolutely ripping especially for a punk-record. No simplicity here. A lot of the more famous bands in the punk-scene today have definitely been influenced by this, especially Green Day's Mike Dirnt as his Dead Kennedy influence is all over his bass work.
The actual music on here is simple and might even be considered by some experts too simple but the message here is that music is supposed to be raw and there is nothing wrong with being simple if you are having fun and being passionate while you're doing it.
However, there are times where the Dead Kennedys even prove their musicianship like on "Kill the poor" or "Holiday in Cambodia" also the closing track for that matter. On these songs, the grooves are tight, the musicianship is well-worked but the energy is still VERY high as to be expect from the Dead Kennedys.
Some of the messages on this record prove that you don't really need fancy instrumentation or serious themes to tell a meaningful and sometimes hilarious message through music. Like on "Lynch the Landlord:. The repetitive chorus is absolutely a hilarious message and what might be funnier is how serious and angry Jello sounds while singing this. His vocals are very signature. Not really the most amazing singer but signature vocals always sound better to me than well-trained and technical proficient singers.
Bottomline, this record started it all for me in terms of Punk-rock and once it started there was no stopping me from discovering the Clash, the Ramones and many other greats. For me the nostalgia and human-like qualities exhibited on Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables make it an absolute classic. Anyone who says otherwise is taking the music too seriously or they are simply too "musically sophisticated" to be associated with this kind of sound which to me is absolute bullshit. This album is for everyone to love.