I love punk rock. Yet for my entire life, I’ve actively avoided the Dead Kennedys. I don’t know why. They’re supposed to be a very important and influential part of the punk rock story. Actually, I do know why. It’s because Dead Kennedys front man, Jello Biafra, seems like a complete dick. The few times I’ve been unfortunate enough to hear or see an interview with him, he just comes across as his own biggest fan.
He’s not funny, he’s not insightful and he’s not some hell raising anarchist sticking it to the man by telling it like it is. But his smug, smarmy delivery makes me think he thinks he’s hilarious, he thinks he spouts truths that the rest of us could never even understand, and he thinks he’s the last great punk, railing against the system. So, on that positive note, let’s listen to the Dead Kennedy’s original farewell, Bedtime for Democracy.
Oh, I also forgot mention that I hate his voice and vocal delivery. Are Take This Job and Shove It, Dear Abby and Flashdunce the greatest punk songs ever committed to tape? Musically, they very well could be. The only problem is, I spent their entirety fixated with Biafra’s voice and how much I hate it. Worse than that, I hate the way he uses it. His constant sarcastic delivery, his machine gun staccato delivery, his general bullshit. And he never stops. No instrumental bridges to move from one part to a song to another. It’s all Biafra all the time.
And get this, Flashdunce isn’t even the worst pun based title on Bedtime for Democracy. We also get Triumph of the Swill, Rambozo the Clown and Potshot Heard ‘Round the World. I thought the Dead Kennedys were supposed to be a band who had something to say about some pretty important issues. Who can take anyone seriously when their song titles are that corny, cheap and easy?
You know what, I’m about half way through this thing’s indulgent 20 odd tracks of bullshit, and I’m done.
1978 – 1986
In between breaking up in ’86 and getting back together in 2001
Selected Major Achievements/Accolades:
Bored and Dangerous Award for Most Over Rated Fuax Punk Posers (tied with the Sex Pistols)