Complete List Of Dead Kennedys Albums And Discography

Dead Kennedys Albums

Feature Photo: Stefan Brending

Emerging from the vibrant San Francisco music scene in 1978, Dead Kennedys swiftly became a pillar of the American punk rock landscape. Known for their incisive political commentary, the band’s lyrics often took aim at authority figures, societal norms, and even the punk movement itself, blending satire with a keen sense of social critique.

Throughout their initial run until 1986, Dead Kennedys stirred controversy with their provocative lyrics and album art, leading to clashes with censorship authorities. Notably, vocalist Jello Biafra became embroiled in a high-profile obscenity trial in the mid-1980s, stemming from the artwork of their “Frankenchrist” album, which ultimately ended in a hung jury.

The band’s discography, consisting of four studio albums and one EP, left a lasting impact on the punk genre. Despite their disbandment in 1986, Biafra’s musical journey continued through collaborations with various artists and bands, alongside a successful career in spoken word performances.

A legal dispute in 2000 over royalties and songwriting credits led to a rift between Biafra and his former bandmates, resulting in the band’s reformation without him in 2001. Since then, Dead Kennedys have continued to tour with different vocalists, although they have not released new music since their last studio album, “Bedtime for Democracy.”

The band’s formation story dates back to a 1978 advertisement placed by guitarist East Bay Ray, leading to the assembly of the original lineup, including Biafra, Klaus Flouride, Ted, and 6025. Their debut performance at Mabuhay Gardens marked the beginning of a series of shows that cemented their place in punk history, despite having to occasionally use pseudonyms due to their controversial band name.

Dead Kennedys’ debut album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, released in 1980, became a cornerstone of punk, featuring the iconic “Holiday in Cambodia.” The band’s evolution continued with subsequent albums, each reflecting a deepening of their musical complexity and lyrical depth, culminating in their final studio album in 1986.

The band’s legacy is marked by their uncompromising stance on issues of social and political import, their battles against censorship, and their influential sound that bridged the gap between punk’s raw energy and a more sophisticated musicality. Despite internal conflicts and the changing landscape of punk rock, Dead Kennedys’ music remains a testament to their pivotal role in shaping the genre.

Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

Released 1980

Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables is the debut studio album by American punk rock band Dead Kennedys. It was first released on September 2, 1980, through Cherry Red Records in the United Kingdom and later through Faulty Products and Alternative Tentacles in the United States. The album was a critical success, widely regarded as a classic in the punk genre, known for its biting political and social commentary, delivered with a mix of humor and aggression.

The iconic track “Holiday in Cambodia” became one of the band’s signature songs. Jello Biafra’s distinctive vocals, East Bay Ray’s surf-inspired guitar riffs, Klaus Flouride’s bass lines, and Ted’s drumming created a unique sound that was both ferocious and engaging. The album was recorded at Möbius Music in San Francisco, California, in June 1980 and was produced by East Bay Ray and the band. Despite not charting in the Billboard 200, the album’s impact and legacy in the punk scene have been profound.

CD Track Listings:

  1. “Kill the Poor” – 3:07
  2. “Forward to Death” – 1:23
  3. “When Ya Get Drafted” – 1:23
  4. “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” – 2:13
  5. “Drug Me” – 1:56
  6. “Your Emotions” – 1:20
  7. “Chemical Warfare” – 2:58
  8. “California Über Alles” – 3:03
  9. ” Children” – 2:04
  10. “Stealing People’s Mail” – 1:34
  11. “Funland at the Beach” – 1:49
  12. “Ill in the Head” – 2:46
  13. “Holiday in Cambodia” – 4:40
  14. “Viva Las Vegas” – 2:39

Plastic Surgery Disasters

Released 1982

Plastic Surgery Disasters, the second studio album by the Dead Kennedys, was released on November 14, 1982. It marked a progression in the band’s sound with more complex musical arrangements and darker lyrical content, reflecting deeper social and political issues. Songs like “Bleed for Me” and “Moon Over Marin” showcased the band’s evolving style, blending punk with elements of other genres. The album’s cover art, featuring an emaciated child with a fork and a piece of meat, is one of the most memorable images in punk rock. Recorded at Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco, California, from June to August 1982, the album was produced by East Bay Ray and Thom Wilson. Despite receiving limited mainstream airplay, it gained significant acclaim in underground music circles and added to the band’s growing reputation for provocative and thought-provoking music.

CD Track Listings:

  1. “Government Flu” – 2:04
  2. “Terminal Preppie” – 1:30
  3. “Trust Your Mechanic” – 2:55
  4. “Well Paid Scientist” – 2:22
  5. “Buzzbomb” – 2:21
  6. “Forest Fire” – 2:23
  7. “Halloween” – 3:35
  8. “Winnebago Warrior” – 2:09
  9. “Riot” – 5:57
  10. “Bleed for Me” – 3:26
  11. “I Am the Owl” – 4:52
  12. “Dead End” – 3:56
  13. “Moon Over Marin” – 3:42

Frankenchrist

Released 1985

Frankenchrist is the third studio album by the Dead Kennedys, released on October 14, 1985. This album marked a departure from the band’s earlier hardcore punk style, incorporating a wider range of musical influences including psychedelic rock, jazz, and spoken-word performances. The lyrics continued to offer sharp critiques of social and political issues, with a notable emphasis on the problems of consumerism and conformity.

The album is perhaps best known for the controversy surrounding its artwork, particularly the inclusion of H.R. Giger’s “Penis Landscape” as a poster insert, which led to a lengthy legal battle over obscenity charges. Frankenchrist was recorded at Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco, California, from May to July 1985 and was produced by Jello Biafra. Despite the controversy, or perhaps because of it, the album received significant attention in the underground music scene.

CD Track Listings:

  1. “Soup is Good Food” – 4:18
  2. “Hellnation” – 2:21
  3. “This Could Be Anywhere” – 5:24
  4. “A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch” – 5:50
  5. “Chicken Farm” – 5:06
  6. “Jock-O-Rama” – 4:06
  7. “Goons of Hazzard” – 4:40
  8. “M.T.V. − Get off the Air” – 3:37
  9. “At My Job” – 3:40
  10. “Stars and Stripes of Corruption” – 6:24

Bedtime for Democracy

Released 1986

Bedtime for Democracy, released on November 30, 1986, is the fourth studio album by Dead Kennedys. The album’s title is a play on Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” theme and represents a scathing critique of the American political landscape of the time. Musically, it saw the band returning to a faster, more hardcore punk sound, reminiscent of their earlier work.

The album is packed with short, aggressive tracks that tackle a variety of social and political issues, from the corruption of the political system to consumerism and environmental degradation. Despite its rapid-fire approach, the album contains some of the band’s most potent lyrical content. Bedtime for Democracy was recorded at City Sound Recording in San Francisco, California, in July 1986 and was produced by Jello Biafra. It was to be the last studio album released by the band before their breakup in 1986.

CD Track Listings:

  1. “Take This Job and Shove It” – 1:25
  2. “Hop with the Jet Set” – 2:07
  3. “Dear Abby” – 1:09
  4. “Rambozo the Clown” – 2:25
  5. “Fleshdunce” – 1:29
  6. “The Great Wall” – 1:32
  7. “Shrink” – 1:44
  8. “Triumph of the Swill” – 2:17
  9. “Macho Insecurity” – 1:30
  10. “I Spy” – 2:30
  11. “Cesspools in Eden” – 5:56
  12. “One-Way Ticket to Pluto” – 1:38
  13. “Do the Slag” – 1:36
  14. “A Commercial” – 1:33
  15. “Gone with My Wind” – 1:43
  16. “Anarchy for Sale” – 1:18
  17. “Chickenshit Conformist” – 5:59
  18. “Where Do Ya Draw the Line” – 2:39
  19. “Potshot Heard ‘Round the World” – 2:10
  20. “D.M.S.O.” – 2:09
  21. “Lie Detector” – 3:45

DEAD KENNEDYS LIVE ALBUMS

Mutiny on the Bay

Released 2001

Mutiny on the Bay is a live compilation album, featuring performances recorded at various locations around the San Francisco Bay Area between 1982 and 1986. This album showcases Dead Kennedys at their live best, delivering their iconic songs with the frenetic energy and sharp political edge that defined their career. The collection highlights key tracks from the band’s catalog, offering fans a visceral live experience that captures the essence of their live shows. The album was mixed by East Bay Ray, providing a sonic bridge between the band’s past and its reformed iteration, ensuring the Dead Kennedys’ rebellious spirit continued to resonate with both old and new generations of punk fans.

CD Track Listings:

  1. “Introduction by DJ Johnny Walker” – 0:55
  2. “Police Truck” – 2:41
  3. “Kill the Poor” – 3:06
  4. “Holiday in Cambodia” – 4:32
  5. “Moon Over Marin” – 3:41
  6. “California Über Alles” – 3:24
  7. “MTV – Get off the Air” – 4:21
  8. “Too Drunk to Fu*k” – 2:58
  9. “Goons of Hazzard” – 4:04
  10. “This Could Be Anywhere” – 4:24
  11. “Forward to Death” – 1:53
  12. “I Am the Owl” – 4:52
  13. “Hellnation” – 2:44
  14. “Riot” – 6:00

Live at the Deaf Club

Released 2004

Live at the Deaf Club is a live album recorded on March 3, 1979, at the Deaf Club in San Francisco. This album captures Dead Kennedys in their early, raw form, performing with the fierce intensity and unbridled energy that characterized their early days. The recording includes several songs that never appeared on their studio albums, offering a glimpse into the breadth of their early material. This release serves as a historical snapshot of the band’s nascent stage, reflecting the burgeoning punk scene in San Francisco and the provocative, boundary-pushing performances that would soon define Dead Kennedys’ legacy.

CD Track Listings:

  1. “Introduction by John the Baker” – 0:04
  2. “Kill the Poor” – 3:07
  3. “Back in Rhodesia” – 1:33
  4. “Man with the Dogs” – 3:02
  5. “Gaslight” – 3:02
  6. “California Über Alles” – 4:03
  7. “Ill in the Head” – 8:05
  8. “Straight A’s” – 2:14
  9. “Short Songs” – 0:28
  10. “Holiday in Cambodia” – 4:38
  11. “Police Truck” – 2:49
  12. “Forward to Death” – 1:03
  13. “Have I the Right?” – 2:18
  14. “Back in the U.S.S.R.” – 2:00
  15. “Viva Las Vegas” – 7:01

DK 40

Released 2019

DK 40 is a comprehensive triple live album compilation marking the 40th anniversary of Dead Kennedys’ formation. This expansive collection spans three decades of live performances, encapsulating the band’s dynamic live presence and evolution over the years. From early, gritty shows to more polished late-era performances, DK 40 offers a panoramic view of the band’s live history, showcasing their development while retaining the core energy and message that made them punk legends. This release not only commemorates the band’s milestone anniversary but also serves as a tribute to their lasting impact on the punk genre and their continued relevance in the music world.

CD Track Listings:

Disc 1:

  1. “Man with the Dogs”
  2. “Forward to Death”
  3. “Kepone Factory”
  4. “Life Sentence”
  5. “Trust Your Mechanic”
  6. “Moral Majority”
  7. “Forest Fire”
  8. “Winnebago Warrior”
  9. “Police Jerk”
  10. “Bleed for Me”

Disc 2:

  1. “Holiday in Cambodia”
  2. “Let’s Lynch the Landlord”
  3. “Chemical Warfare”
  4. “Nazi Punks Fu*k Off”
  5. “We’ve Got a Bigger Problem Now”
  6. “Too Drunk to Fu*k”
  7. “California Über Alles”
  8. “Kill the Poor”

Disc 3:

  1. “MTV – Get off the Air”
  2. “Goons of Hazzard”
  3. “This Could Be Anywhere”
  4. “Forward to Death”
  5. “I Am the Owl”
  6. “Hellnation”
  7. “Riot”

Complete List Of The Dead Kennedys Albums And Discography article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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Foto: Stefan Brending

 

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