Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables
25th anniversary CD/DVD
This album and this band really doesn’t need any introduction. In the 25 years since their inception, the Dead Kennedys have been a staple of any punk rock fan’s musical collection since nearly the day they became a fan of the genre, if not being the reason for someone becoming a fan in the first place. In their 7 or 8 years of existence, the DK’s toured the world and put out a handful of now-classic hardcore punk records and were pioneers of the genre.
Now, 25 years later, post-breakup, post-lawsuit, the DK’s back catalog has been getting the remastering and reissue treatment on Manifesto Records. This album, while their first, ended up being pretty much the last for this treatment as it was not owned by Alternative Tentacles, nor the band, but owned (and licensed) by Cherry Red Records in the UK, who financed the record a quarter century ago.
The CD contains the album we all know an love, digitally remastered so it now sounds better than any previous CD issue of the record. It also contains a small reproduction of the original poster/lyric sheet that came inside the LP back in the day. The only problem is you’d need a magnifying glass to read the lyrics as everything on this has been shrunk down so small to fit, it is pretty much illegible. It would have been nice if they included a separate insert containing legible lyrics to go along with the little poster.
This release also contains a DVD that contains a 55 minute documentary titled Fresh Fruit for Rotting Eyeballs. This documentary tells the story of the band from their inception up to and including the making of and release of this album. It is told through recent interview footage of East Bay Ray and Klaus Fluoride as well as the band’s former manager, punk promoter Dirk Dirksen who gave them their first show and helped manage them at one point, and some music writers and people associated with the band. It is really well done and does a good job telling how it was in those early days. And contrary to what some make think post-lawsuit, not only is Jello painted in a positive light, but he gets equal coverage in this documentary, even though he didn’t participate in it. They even covered his run for mayor of San Francisco in this documentary. It is nice to see that any bad blood that came out of that whole fiasco a couple years ago didn’t spill over into this, which would have prevented a fair historical document on the band. Aside from all the interviews, there is unreleased live footage from the old days mixed in as part of it, and the footage is pretty good, especially considering its age. I learned some stuff from this that I never knew before, such as why the first pressing of the vinyl ended up having orange covers, and what it was really supposed to look like, which finally 25 years later, is corrected on the cover art to this disc.
Owning this disc isn’t a matter of whether or not you think you’ll like the band, every punk rock fan on earth knows what they sound like, the question is if it is worth double dipping if you already own it. The answer will likely vary depending on one’s point of view but I can tell you the documentary is well worth checking out and the CD has never sounded so better. As someone who until now only owned the original vinyl, it is a welcome addition to my collection, and had I already owned a CD of it, I’d likely double dip for the superior sound quality over the older CD releases and for the excellent DVD which you can only get here.