Kennedys Live at the Deaf Club (Manifesto) Review
07.10.03: DKs Mini-Reviews
Bay Ray Interview
Guitarist - Easy Bay Ray
Kennedys "Mutiny on the Bay"
on the Bay"
Early Years Live" (Target Video DVD)
Kennedys - The Early Years Live" (DVD)
Greatest Punk Band, Re-mastered and Reissued
Awaited Live Album by San Francisco Punk Legends
Dead Kennedys Live at the Deaf Club (Manifesto)
The world really needs
the Dead Kennedys now, their sinew-and-silly-putty
West Coast punk reverberates anew on this classic
live CD. Captured at their playful-sardonic peak
in 1979, the slash-and-burn set includes such anti-Establishment
thorns as "California Uber Alles," "Kill
the Poor" and the strangely timeless "Holiday
in Cambodia." Mondo-campo versions of "Back
in the U.S.S.R." and (believe it) "Viva
Las Vegas" close out a short-sharp-shock of
a show. Frontman Jello Biafra is in typically hyperactive
form and the rest of the band, Klaus Flouride (bass),
East Bay Ray (guitar), Ted (drums) and, in his last
gig with the DKs, 6025 (guitar) blow the bricks
loose on one of the punk era's definitive live albums.
- Adrian Zupp
- Dead Kennedys Mini-Reviews
The sad legal battles [ ] of the Dead
Kennedys has resulted in the reissue of their back
catalog. So if you don't already have these brilliant
albums on CD, this is the perfect time to fill out
your collection. Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
has been remastered and reissued by Cleopatra Records,
while the others were released by Manifesto Records.
The remastering job was done very tastefully. The
albums all sound much clearer while retaining the
rawness of the original recordings. Additionally,
the original artwork, including the original insert
booklets, have been reproduced and included for your
perverse enjoyment. The only exception is the controversial
poster that was originally included with the Frankenchrist
album, which led to criminal trials for obscenity.
Additionally, the new Manifesto releases also come
in beautiful vinyl editions!
Mutiny On The
Bay - 2001 * * * * (out of 5)
A Live album culled from material recorded
between 1982-1986. All of their best material is here,
making it a pleasure from start to end. Tracks like
"Holiday In Cambodia," "MTV Get Off
The Air", "Hellnation," "This
Could Be Anywhere" and the closer "Riot"
show what an amazingly powerful live band they were.
One of the album's highlights is an updated version
of "California Uber Alles" where Biafra
sings, "I am emperor Ronald Reagan / Born again
with fascist cravings / Still you made me President
/ By sitting on your ass." A great addition any
DK collection. To all those naysayers who call this
album the band's sellout, I say, you can either take
what you can get from a great band or you can go buy
Avril Lavigne albums.
Fresh Fruit For
Rotting Vegetables - 1980 * * * *
With songs like "Kill The Poor,"
"Let's Lynch The Landlord," and "I
Kill Children," Biafra has his phaser set to
stun. His left-wing political stances, shock tactics
and basic messages of rebellion against corruption
combined with the ultra-fast musical assault ushered
in the Hardcore Punk scene. While this album is filled
with naked aggression, the band wasn't quite as solid
as they would be for Plastic Surgery Disasters. However,
the shear power of "California Uber Alles,"
"Holiday In Cambodia" and even their version
of "Viva Las Vegas" make this essential
listening. A few of the songs are dated, but that
doesn't make this album any less important.
Disasters / In God We Trust, Inc. - 1982 * * * * *
Here, the band was at their strongest
musically while still retaining the naive spirit of
revolution and rebellion. The songs are slightly slower
and more complex while the huge, sinewy horror guitars
of East Bay Ray are at an all time high (see "Bleed
For Me" and "I Am The Owl" for evidence).
Plastic Surgery Disasters (PSD's) is one long attack
on the apathetic attitude of the American good life.
"Government Flu" points the finger at government
experimentation, "Terminal Preppie" attacks
the college frat-boy meathead. "Winnebago Warrior"
uses the lyric "30 gallons to the mile."
As relevant as ever in this day of gas guzzling SUV's.
"Moon Over Marin" closes the album with
it's soaring vision of apocalypse in a rich snob's
world. Pure brilliance from start to finish! Also
included here is the 1981 EP In God We Trust, Inc.
which includes the classic song "Nazi Punks Fuck
Off." The EP is much rawer than PSD's and sounds
more like Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables stylistically.
- 1985 * * * *
Frankenchrist opens with a creepy guitar
line that perfectly accompanies the topic of the song
"Soup Is Good Food," about the feeling of
a worker being replaced by computers. "We're
sorry but it's against the law to jump off this bridge
/ you'll just have to kill yourself somewhere else
/ A tourist might see you and we wouldn't want that."
The song "This Could Be Anywhere" is a powerful
song addressing the topic of kids and violence in
urban sprawl. The machine gun drums, pummeling bass
and screaming guitars make this one of the DK's best
songs. The weakness of this album is the goofiness
of the songs "MTV Get Off The Air" and "At
My Job." While these songs may be playful and
fun, they detract from the power of the album as a
whole. On the other hand, "MTV Get Off The Air's"
attack on the major label music business is still
as valid today as it ever was with lyrics like "But
sales are slumping / and no one will say why / could
it be they put out one too many lousy records?"
Bedtime For Democracy
- 1986 * * *
On their last real album, the band return
to the mega-fast blast of songs in the style of Fresh
Fruit For Rotting Vegetables or In God We Trust, Inc.,
but more Polished. Could it be the Dead Kennedys parodying
the Dead Kennedys? This album takes itself less seriously
than Plastic Surgery Disasters and Frankenchrist,
possibly because their hearts weren't 100% into it.
"Dear Abby," "Rambozo The Clown"
and "Triumph Of The Swill" "Fleshdunce"
and "A Commercial" are a few examples of
the attack on the media. Other topics include the
usual; corrupt government, scientific nightmares,
military and everything else. While a few of the songs
don't hit home, there are still some great tracks
here like "Take This Job And Shove It,"
"Triumph Of The Swill," "Macho Insecurity,"
"I Spy," "Cesspools In Eden" and
"One-way Ticket To Pluto."
Give Me Convenience
Or Give Me Death - 1987 * * * *
Released just as the band called it
a day, this is a collection of rarities, singles and
live material. It perfectly showcases both sides of
the band, the serious and intense side as well as
the more humorous side. Essentials like "Police
Truck," "Too Drunk To Fuck," "I
Fought The Law," as well as single versions of
"California Uber Alles" and "Holiday
In Cambodia" are all here. On the live tune "Pull
My Strings" Biafra declares "We aren't a
Punk Rock band, we're a New Wave band." The song
then proceeds to pan the rock star mentality while
mimicking it. The tune uses the riff from "My
Sherona" by The Knack with the lyrics "drool,
drool, drool, drool / My Payola." Absolutely
brilliant! "Night Of The Living Rednecks"
is an improv by Biafra while East Bay Ray fixes his
guitar. Backed by a bebop bass and drum line, Biafra
tells his hilarious story about being harassed by
jock rednecks in Portland Oregon. Last but not least
is a high-octane version of "Buzzbomb Of Pasadena"
with Biafra singing in an old ladies voice.
- INTERVIEW: Dead Kennedys
Music We Trust
Reawakening The Dream - Punk Rock Legends
Return To Rattle The Cage In A New Age Of Apathy:
An Interview With East Bay Ray By: Vinnie Apicella
At the time of this writing, a resurgent
Dead Kennedys will have brought their sarcastic yet
socially conscious, politically pointed Punk Rock
music to the shores of Japan and Russia for the first
time ever in support of their recently released "Mutiny
On The Bay" live CD - an unlikely event considering
they originally played their last show together back
in March of 1986 shortly before disbanding, then personally
disjointing about a decade later.
"The fact of the matter is
he took money and hid money from the band - and refused
to acknowledge it and still refuses to acknowledge
it - he got caught in a conflict of interest."
- EBR .
By now to most familiar with the scene,
the legal battles between former lead singer Jello
Biafra and the rest of the band over royalties and
rights to their back catalog are old news. The above
caption states in succinct terms, the open and shut
facts as expressed by founding guitarist and current
interviewee East Bay Ray (hereafter referred to as
"EBR" or simply "Ray") relating
to the Dead Kennedys vs. Jello Biafra court case which
began back in 1997. Thus, a band, built on the principles
of democracy, having since overthrown the fraudulent
attempts by a misdirected despot, have effectively
won back their rights and moved forward with a new
singer and new home for the catalog at issue - or
"reissue" as the case may be. More information
on the case can be obtained at www.deadkennedysnews.com.
To matters of future significance, Dead
Kennedys are again a force to be reckoned with in
an American Punk community they helped define 25 years
ago. Theirs was the urgent voice of discontent that
made famous the necessary but often overlooked democratic
ideals of equality, questioning authority, and personal
accountability in their pointed lyrics and scathing
rhythmic attack. There were few competitors. The Dead
Kennedys were every bit about musical unity as they
were about freedom of expression.
In winning back the rights to their
catalog the band has reaped a harvest of sales successes
with the digitally remastered reissues of all their
late great landmark albums. In addition, the band
celebrated by scheduling vinyl reissues to be concluded
early this year along with a previous reissue of their
classic "Dead Kennedys - The Early Years Live"
video and the new "Mutiny On The Bay" CD.
"Our reissue campaign on Manifesto Records has
been an incredible success," enthuses EBR. "It's
great to be back in control of our own music and the
fans have really responded. The new remasters sound
fantastic, way better than the older CD's that's for
"Dead Kennedys - The Early Years
Live" features the band performing live from
various venues from 1978-1981 and includes highlight
performances from the acclaimed Mabuhay Gardens, the
San Francisco club where they first got their start.
While plans remain for a second live tape, EBR reveals
additional plans to uncover another unexpected find:
"We're in the process of working on a DVD of
us recording 'In God We Trust, Inc.' - it's actually
a video of us recording. So there'll be a lot of live
and in studio footage." How did this surface?
"Klaus (Flouride - bass player) was looking through
about 40 or 50 hours worth of tape and he ran across
this kind of documentary footage of us doing 'God'.
We were originally going to do a continuation of our
'Early Years' video with different songs and venues
and such - which we'll probably still do at some point
- but we just ran across this and thought it was pretty
unique. There's not really much in the way of Punk
bands recording in the studio."
Of course in the aftermath of the court
proceedings, the band's reformation was not only in
doubt, their legitimacy to proceed without their outspoken
vocalist and chief lyricist, Biafra, would be forced
into question. Why can some bands merely get away
with "replacing" a lead singer or other
dominant presence, while others go on to even greater
degrees of success or in some cases implode altogether,
is a subject for day-long debates of inconclusiveness.
"A lot of people (who doubted us) don't realize
how important the musicians were to Dead Kennedys,"
was Ray's brief comment on the topic that will shortly
garner more attention. Weighted against the principles
of the "band" as opposed to one or another
member, there may be no single bigger musical interest
on the whole than Dead Kennedys; who concurrent to
their courtroom clashes, still provide for a band-related
vote to their former frontman.
On the recent Dead Kennedys reformation,
EBR had this to say: "We've only been doing this
for a little over a year now. We were re-releasing
the records on Manifesto and doing a record release
party for the 'Mutiny' CD and just kind of fell into
it really. The party was going to be in Los Angeles
and Klaus, DH, and I were going to be there. We'd
planned to meet and greet people, sign autographs
and shake hands, that type of thing. There were going
to be some bands playing - The Angry Samoans, The
Stitches, Cell Block 5 - and DH came up with the idea
of us getting up and playing some tunes too. DH also
knew Brandon Cruz from the band Dr. Know, and so we
all did a bit of rehearsing and next thing you know
there's a bunch of people outside the studio and the
rumor hits the street. Then the club ends up selling
out three weeks in advance! We were unannounced and
unadvertised; We didn't know how people would feel
about the band and the music with three original members,
but like I said, it sold out - and there were like
300 more people out front. The promoter was amazed.
We had a majority of younger kids in the audience
who'd never seen us before and of course some who
were older, it was just amazing the amount of love
there was for the music. That, to me, is when we realized
the music's more powerful than the individuals. And
there was this agent there offering us more gigs to
get the ball rolling and we've been doing it ever
Considering the magnitude of touring
and venues the band has since played, any lingering
questions about whether (they should) or why (they
have) have been resoundingly silenced. With successful
shows throughout the U.S. and Europe fueled by massive
festivals highlighted by Germany's "With Full
Force" where DK shared the stage with Biohazard
and Slayer in front of a crowd of 46,000, the band,
vindicated in their ideological passions of music
for positive change, took great leaps forward from
their far removed prime. Ray adds: "We've been
to South America, we've been all over the U.S. again,
we're going to Japan for the first time ever, and
Russia - We're going back to Europe and the UK to
bigger places than we did the first time. Admittedly
there was a lot of skepticism the first time around.
People thought we couldn't pull it off, but I'm proud
to say the skeptics who heard us were convinced."
EBR and I take a look back reexamine why exactly,
when so few bands could survive such a loss as that
of a charismatic platform pushing vocalist like Biafra,
could come back even stronger and effectively influence
a whole new generation of people. Could it be because
their words still cut like a buzzbomb through the
bowels of a too often brain dead and blind society?
"We've always been a very politically
and socially conscious band - and unfortunately, a
lot of what we've sung about - 'Life Sentence', 'Police
Truck', 'Kill The Poor', still applies today."
EBR discusses a little about the band's
history with commentary on the shifting Punk scene
from when they began: "Klaus, DH, and myself
really have a unique style and when you put them together,
it comes out like that 'sound', and also the audiences
have been really intelligent. When we started in San
Francisco at the Mabuhay, the shows would consist
of an Art band, a Pop band, and a Punk band all on
the same bill. You'd have this mix of people and this
mix of ideas - words like 'germinate' or 'crossbreed'
would continually come up. By around '83-'84 the scenes
split apart and the Punk scene became one thing, the
Pop scene became a sort of New Wave scene, and the
Art scene was - what it was, and by around '85-'86
the Punk shows turned into this macho, testosterone-based,
power trip thing. It was more about how many people
can you knock over - not every show, but enough -
and it just wasn't fun for us to play them anymore.
But the touring we've been doing this last year has
reminded me of the golden age of Punk. We have a mixed
audience; there are some younger people and we've
got the older ones that saw us before. We've had women
in the pit - women stage diving, where it's allowed
(laughs) and you know, people are being really responsible
and helpful. It's not this idea of how many elbows
can you throw and so forth."
With a band like DK, the message in
the music, and really an analysis of the art form
at its core, or at least its most influential, will
reveal it as drawing on democratic-bred distinctions
toward difference making. Whether it's promoting free
thinking with furious fist pumps or ass-bearing, nose-thumbing
delivery mechanisms, more so than any other musical
style or function, Punk Rock remains philosophically
unchangeable and so allows for a uniquely generational
spanning art with less limitations than most. EBR,
obviously moved at the size, mix, and ability of today's
DK audience, concurs with said theory (phew!) and
reveals the band member tastes as "open"
when it comes to musical forms and a sort of "togetherness"
and "chemistry" that allowed for DK's uniqueness,
and adding: "When I was remastering the CD's
I was pretty blown away by some of what we'd done
at the time; it was like, wow, I remember that; that
was pretty wacky - we really did take things out there
But then there were your "Too Drunk
To Fuck's" that no matter how responsible your
intent, could be shielded from criticism just so long.
"That was a top 40 hit in the United Kingdom!"
laughs Ray. "But we also had a sense of humor
in there definitely, which I think is important."
Soon after, we skim over the idea of politics and
humor, two perfectly blended and widely used elements
to the DK character where songs like "Too Drunk--"
inexcusable in the extremes of precedent setting,
push the issue anthems, suggests, yes, this was a
young band, loose, loud, disrespectful, yet all the
more impressive in the accepting of their share of
social responsibility. But with all this serious talk,
doesn't a name like "Dead Kennedys" evoke
instant controversy? Shouldn't it? "Well you
know from our viewpoint, America in the '60s, before
the assassinations, was kind of a time of idealism
and people - what's the JFK line? 'Ask not what your
country can do for you but ask what you can do for
your country.' And he doesn't mean the government,
he means what you can do for your country - your community
and fellow citizens. After the JFK assassination,
Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, America became
self-centered and more cynical and still hasn't recovered
that innocent idealism that had existed. So the name
also signifies the loss of that idealism and our lyrics
and music suggesting that maybe it's time to bring
Let's also address the topic of singers
a little bit further. Most people in the Punk community
probably know of Brandon Cruz from fronting the band
Dr. Know. Brandon's definitely logged some mileage
in the scene for a while. "Basically the band's
message is still the same - only the voice has changed."
Any possibility of there being any new "fruit"
to pick from in the near future? "We've talked
about it but right now we've been so busy touring
and running around - but it's possible."
Each of DK's records offer a distinctive
sound that embody the spirit of Punk aggression yet
flawlessly transcend it, often breaking into a variety
of mixed fragments that fall between Pop, Goth, Blues
- and Rockabilly fueled guitar jams augmented by Speedracer
style scales on a high speed picking spree that kicks
sand in the face of the traditional sixties' surf
scene. EBR discusses a little about the earlier influences
that helped develop DK's musical dynamic: "As
a musician it's an honor for people to come and hear
me play," begins Ray. "These riffs that
I created and recorded, to have them recognized and
valued is really special to me as a musician. In the
beginning, my dad exposed me to a lot of Duke Ellington
and the Blues, stuff like Lightning Hopkins and Muddy
Waters back in the day. I was never really into '70s
music when I was growing up. Klaus's line was that
he got into Punk Rock because of The Eagles - he didn't
like The Eagles (Laughs). Since then I've discovered
AC/DC and I've also discovered The Ohio Players and
the funkier stuff of the time. I used to listen to
all sorts of stuff when I was young and probably was
very eccentric in that way. But as a guitar player,
the 'Sun Sessions' with Elvis Presley was a big influence.
There was Scotty Moore playing his guitar into an
echo unit like 'Mystery Train,' that sound of 'Mystery
Train' was what inspired me to get an Echoplex. I
also liked the first Pink Floyd record with Syd Barrett
on it - again going back to the idea of an echo -
and then there are some people who say I've got a
'surf' sound - like that Dick Dale style of double-picking,
but I never really listened to 'surf' music so maybe
it's just from growing up in California."
Some small talk ensues about fellow
Punk vets, The Damned, and how each, while different,
stretch conditional components of Punk music to richer
extremes - Dead Kennedys will actually be playing
with them in the UK in April - where elements of Goth,
Drama, psychic fill effects, and so forth make strange
bedfellows to the ideals of traditionally aimed fury
where "Lynching Landlord's" or "Smashing
It Up's" are concerned, but then - "Especially
on the CD 'Plastic Surgery Disasters' and 'Frankenchrist'
a lot of those elements exist - there's a kind of
Avant Garde Jazz type mix." Furthering brief
themes of individual album content, Ray adds that
"Frankenchrist" gets a little bit "freaky"
with an increased use of "western trumpets,"
and, "some of them are really short," regarding
the songs on "Bedtime For Democracy" bow
out, and then I'm reminded of "I Spy," the
song, and again drawing comparisons to many of DK's
mid-point jam sessions when suddenly "Enter The
Dragon" appears in the background and there's
Bruce Lee slipping carefully through the dark amidst
subtle theme music, precursory to violent outbursts
and fearful aftereffects - Ray's never seen the movie.
Okay, and so what's this I've been reading
then, with all of the positive build up about your
comeback and recent successes, that you're banned
from playing certain clubs in San Francisco - still?
"Well the booker's a personal friend of Biafra's
- something the local reporter failed to report. Yeah,
it's basically got to do with personal vindictiveness
and nothing more. The clubs are going for the old
fogy music or something. It's like, so what else is
new for Dead Kennedys?" Who are some bands you
follow from the Bay Area you think have potential
to make a move? "My favorite local band is The
Glamour Pussies. They are like ultra-Punk. They don't
care (laughs) but they actually have some pretty catchy
tunes. They're made up of all women who wear different,
wacky outfits every time they play. It reminds me
of way back when the first time I saw The Weirdos
play before we formed. They inspired me to put together
a Punk band- so this is like, wow, it's not cliché
ridden, shall we say? So that to me makes it real
"Biafra said, 'Let the audience
decide', way back over a year ago - and then the audience
was coming to the show and guess what? He files a
lawsuit in Alameda against us to stop us from playing
- That should tell you all you need to know about
Ray and I return to the idea of carrying
on in the future without their original singer; He,
shrugging off the notion of potential backlash by
the old school traditionalist, and me, dissatisfied
to let the issue rest regarding the loss of an outspoken,
almost iconic figure who'd apparently granted his
ego an insurmountable head start - "If you come
and actually see the show and judge for yourself,
which is what DK is about - that's what was so funny
about us being banned in San Francisco. DK is not
about telling people what to think; it's about telling
people to think for themselves - and the powers that
be got corrupted. But some people don't want to change
and I understand that. It's an old school way of thinking
but nobody's the way they used to be. It's a fact,
everything changes one way or another." On playing
the old classics again - "Yeah we've played 'em
I'm subjective of course, but it's actually better
than it used to be. Punk isn't a religious cult. There
are those people that want to turn music into some
sort of religious item and it's just really bizarre."
On the issue of the band's potential
and perceived loss of credibility through commerciality
stemming from some people's objections to a certain
reissued, or "reselling" of an American
Punk legend, EBR concludes: "People can be small
minded and bitter; we are not on a major label nor
have we done any commercials. Some will discover a
band in a club that's underground and then when that
band becomes successful, they don't like them anymore.
It's like a reverse designer jeans philosophy or something
- (Laughs). 'My identity exists because I know this
band that nobody else knows' - it's like an in/out
identity thing, where it's not really about music,
it's got to do with being cool. It comes from insecurity.
With a band like Dead Kennedys, we're opposed to that
kind of rigid thinking and - it's like, get a life.
You know, there are bigger issues in the world today
- like, what does Iraq have to do with Al Queda? The
government wants to eliminate taxes on dividends so
only working people will be taxed - there are much
more important issues to debate." Right now,
regarding their decision to play together again, it
appears as though East Bay Ray and the rest of DK's
remaining members are winning that one hands down.
Some quick EBR clips that didn't fit
into the overall scheme but were too cool to cut out:
"Nirvana came out in the '90s and
brought that kind of Punky sound that became much
more acceptable to the people, and as a consequence,
people rediscovered us."
"A lot of music on the radio is
overproduced--" "I've always had a soft
spot for one-hit wonders." "A good band
has a chemistry between people. There's a difference
between a solo record and a band record."
"When I saw The Dictators I was
like, wow, this is better than a lot of the bands
that are getting promoted on the radio!" "Really
good Rock bands I describe as having an operatic aspect
- they have music, they have costumes, they have characters.
Even The Beatles and The Stones, The Sex Pistols,
The Ramones - they have characters, costumes, and
"Back when the lawsuit started,
people were like, 'How can you do that?' Well how
can we let someone rip us off? You know that wouldn't
be Punk." "We weren't influenced in our
decision to shut it down in the mid '80s because of
the popular music scene. It was just that the audiences
were changing and our own well had begun to run dry
at the time."
"I put an ad in the paper and a
record store - Klaus answered and Biafra answered.
So we started working on songs and got a drummer and
got another guitar player and we did our first show
in July 1978. We had our drummer for about a week!"
"The Beatles sued one another -
The Sex Pistols sued one another - The Misfits sued
one another - The Beach Boys - I mean, okay, it makes
good copy for your daily paper or tabloids, but ultimately,
the music's much more powerful than any of that. Do
you care now that The Sex Pistols sued one another?"
Guitars & Basses » Underrated Guitarist
» East Bay Ray!
For those who don't know "East
Bay Ray," he was the guitarist for the Dead Kennedys
(yeah, I know they had another one for a very, very,
brief period, but that "6025" fella wasn't
around for all that long). Oh, now East Bay Ray didn't
do much - he just had to switch maniacally from lead
to rhythm guitar, play at a pace that could shred
the fingers of some guitarists and help define the
hardcore punk scene.
The Dead Kennedys wrote a hell of a
lot of songs about the evils of capitalism, government
extremism, moronic folks, post-apocalyptic horrors
and other such cheery things. East Bay Ray provided
those songs with a bit of creepy, appropriate atmosphere.
Take, for example, his work on "Police Truck,"
which is a song about abusive cops who engage in a
fun-filled evening of beating up on drunks and brutally
raping a prostitute. Easy Bay Ray keeps the song galloping
and chugging along, and even tosses in a few notes
from the "Batman" theme and a lick that
sounds like an English cop car.
East Bay Ray was all about creating
an atmosphere that focused the listener's attention
on what the song of the moment meant. In the above
example, the "Batman" and "police car"
licks help drive the point home that "Police
Truck" is supposed to present a picture of how
cops who have unchecked power behave in a terror-filled
Impressive, too, is East Bay Ray's sheer
finger speed on the fretboard. The song "Buzzbomb"
comes to mind as a good example of this. In that one,
East Bay Ray plays at a pace that is best described
as caffeine-induced, and it's rather hard to figure
out just what the hell he's playing in the rhythm
part because it goes by so fast. And, in the middle
of all that, he manages to toss in a short but busy
Another good example of a song in which
East Bay Ray creates a dense atmosphere is "Riot,"
which is about, naturally, a riot breaking out on
the city streets. The song starts slowly to represent
the building of the riot, speeds up to a break-neck
pace during the description of the riot, and then
slows to nothing when describing events after the
riot has ended. East Bay Ray hangs through all the
phases of the song, yet lends a bunch of trembling,
almost cartoonish notes that suggest the whole thing
will end in disaster. That, of course, is the whole
point of the song.
Perhaps most important is the fact that
East Bay Ray strayed from a maxim that was, seemingly,
adopted by a lot of punks at the time - all you need
are three chords and the truth. The Dead Kennedys
were typically angry about this, that and the other,
and they weren't afraid to tell people why. East Bay
Ray helped focus the listeners attention to those
songs, and that's important if bands like the Dead
Kennedys are going to be taken seriously at all. For
example, how can you take a band seriously if it sounds
like a million other groups full of goons without
much talent beating on instruments?
A lot of punk bands wound up breezing
through simple chords because they had neither the
ability or song-writing skill to do anything but play
fast, loud music. East Bay Ray, as I've mentioned,
managed to add a lot to the atmosphere of songs, and
it didn't matter one whit whether he was playing rhythm
or lead parts - they were both well-constructed and
showed an impressive amount of skill and familiarity
with the guitar.
That's really incredible when one considers
that Dead Kennedys songs were horribly fast - it's
hard to be too expressionistic when you're playing
about as fast as you can manage, but East Bay Ray
was able to find the time to create some truly memorable
guitar parts. Instead of just banging on a guitar
and popping out a few dull, repetitive riffs, East
Bay Ray managed to create some truly memorable stuff.
And, better yet, he could do all that while using
nasty sounding distortion and playing loud enough
to get the attention of the listener.
Now, I know that East Bay Ray probably
isn't held in very high regard by members of the "Clapton
is God" set, but he's yet another one of those
guitarists who convinced me to pick up a guitar and
learn how to play the thing. Judging from the influence
of the Dead Kennedys on the hardcore punk scene and
on guitarists and bands today, I'd say I'm not alone
in my respect for East Bay Ray's work.
- HawgWyld | Aug 07 '00
Gordo - ALT.CULTURE.GUIDE
MUTINY ON THE BAY
The Dead Kennedys never released a live
album during their brief yet notorious career as America’s
favorite hardcore bad boys. The legendary punk outfit’s
incendiary live performances have nevertheless been
well represented by a handful of bootleg albums and
videos, the best of which is probably ‘Jello’s
Revenge’ (Armed Response Records), culled from
San Francisco club shows in 1979 and 1985. MUTINY
ON THE BAY is the first “authorized” Dead
Kennedys live disc, part of Manifesto’s reissuing
of the band’s catalog under the aegis of members
East Bay Ray, D.H. Peligro and Klaus Flouride.
MUTINY ON THE BAY presents not a single
entire performance but rather pieces of four different
shows that date from 1982 and 1986. The original soundboard
tapes have been digitally remastered but manage to
retain a fair degree of their original energy and
grunge. I hate to disagree with my old buddy Jello,
who has publicly dissed MUTINY ON THE BAY, but this
is a hell of a collection. A veritable “who’s
who” of the DK’s greatest hits, this fourteen
song set offers those of us who never got to witness
the band live (i.e. most punk fans who didn’t
live within a day’s drive of the west coast)
a taste of what bootleg videos only hinted at.
Almost all the great DK songs are here,
from “Police Truck” and “Kill The
Poor” to “Hellnation” and “MTV
- Get Off The Air.” The energy in these tracks
is undeniable; Biafra’s warbling, operatic vocals
jumping out of the speakers above East Bay Ray’s
slashing six-string work. One of the band’s
signature songs, “Holiday In Cambodia,”
offers some fiery fretwork courtesy of East Bay Ray
while the Flouride/Peligro rhythmic assault that opens
“California Uber Alles” provides powerful
punctuation to Biafra’s angry vocals. The production
seamlessly stitches together the performances; tying
songs together with Biafra’s onstage comments
and smoothing out the rough edges so that the entire
collection sounds like one lengthy performance. Perhaps
some of the spontaneity is lost in this digital translation,
but the quality of these performances shines through
nonetheless and there is plenty of feedback and stage
noise present for the purist.
There are some good Dead Kennedys’
bootlegs still circulating around in trading circles,
but MUTINY ON THE BAY puts most, in not all of them
to shame. If all you know of the Dead Kennedys is
their reputation, then MUTINY ON THE BAY, coupled
with the band’s incredible debut, FRESH FRUIT
FOR ROTTING VEGETABLES, are perfect introductions
to the band’s legacy. Let’s hope that
Manifesto has some other live material of this quality
stashed away in the vault for future release. The
Dead Kennedys were one of the most influential hardcore
punk bands of the eighties; their importance based
on live performances like those captured by MUTINY
ON THE BAY. Let’s hear some more!
- Rev. Keith Gordon
"Mutiny on the Bay" editorial review
The first-ever authorized live album
by the Dead Kennedys--following decades of bootlegs--is
a DKs fan dream come true, as it contains absolutely
scorching live versions of 14 of their best and most
notorious songs. Whether live or in the studio, the
DKs were always real players, easily some of the most
accomplished musicians in American punk. MUTINY ON
THE BAY captures their savvy, sophisticated chaos
with juicy, startling clarity. Culled from four shows
in their hometown of San Francisco in 1982 and 1986,
MUTINY features most of their signature songs ("Holiday
in Cambodia," "Police Truck," "California
Über Alles," "MTV Get off the Air,"
etc.), all delivered with the deeply sarcastic, politically
and socially confrontational élan that crowds
loved and the powers-that-be loathed. The sound quality
is bracing and brilliant, and captures the band in
all its high-flying, punk rock/thrash/surf glory.
A time bomb wired from the past, MUTINY ON THE BAY
is easily one of the Dead Kennedys' most essential
- Carl Hanni
Dead Kennedys - The Early Years Live (Target Video
From: San Francisco Bay Guardian
Despite their band name, amped-up surf
beats, and lefty-politico posturing, Dead Kennedys
really weren't much of a punk band, as this retrospective
reveals - musically, they were too much in control,
inclined to prog rock tempo changes, overly cerebral,
and too clean. Which isn't to say that DKs were not
abrasive. They were, but in a manner more prissified
than their Los Angeles or London counterparts and
without the irony and humor of their New York contemporaries.
But what they lacked in subtlety, they made up for
by being tightly arranged, topical, and novel, which
explains their massive popularity 20 years ago.
That said, a few points must be made.
(1) If Johnny Rotten's stage persona is derived from
Sir Laurence Oliver in Richard III, then Jello Biafra's
is Frank Gorshin as the Riddler in the Batman TV series.
(2) D.H. Peligro is the best drummer ever to back
a new-wave ensemble, with drummer Ted, who is featured
on most of the DVD's tracks, a close second. (3) Kudos
to East Bay Ray and Klaus Flouride for maintaining
a stoic stage presence in contrast to Biafra's 'Marcel
Marceau on methamphetamine' hamminess. (4) Using footage
of the fall of Saigon footage for "Holiday In
Cambodia's" visuals neglects the fact that Saigon
wasn't in Cambodia but Vietnam. This is a nit-picking,
I know, but a band that prides itself on its smarts
should know better. The best segment of the DVD is
a brief look at Biafra's 1978 run for mayor: he was
absolutely hilarious and ingenious, in contrast to
the show-off persona that (semi) sang those underground
'hits.' I recommend more patter, less chatter, for
future DKs sets.
- Johnny Angel
Dead Kennedys - The Early Years Live (DVD)
What we have here are live videos of
one of America's more controversial punk rock bands,
the Dead Kennedys. There are 9 songs here, filmed
between 1978 and 1981, at various venues around San
Francisco: California Uber Alles, Kill the Poor, Drug
Me, The Man With the Dogs, Insight, Let's Lynch the
Landlord, Bleed For Me, Holiday in Cambodia, and Viva
Las Vegas. The sound and video quality are generally
quite good, allowing Jello Biafra's spastic vocals
and East Bay Ray's psycho-surf guitar work really
stand out. Jello's performances are especially animated,
especially during Drug Me. This seriously makes me
wish I was around to see them play live. It's kind
of a short video (approx 30 minutes), but the video
says this is "Part 1", so if there's a "Part
II" out there, I wonder why it wasn't included
here? As a bonus, the DVD contains bios of all the
band members, with details of what they have all done
since their break-up. This is the Dead Kennedys at
their best, and if you like this band at all, give
this video some attention!
America's Greatest Punk Band, Re-mastered and Reissued
Plastic Surgery Disasters/In God We Trust, Inc.
KKKKK (out of 5!)
Bedtime For Democracy
Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death
MORE POLITICALLY advanced than Minor
Threat and less brutish than Black Flag, the Dead
Kennedys are arguably the greatest punk rock band
ever. Aside from defining a frantic, edgy and genuinely
subversive sound, Jello Biafra's lyrics showed the
American Dream for the living nightmare it had become
and offered suggestions for improvement along the
'Plastic Surgery Disasters', the band's second album,
is the sound of punk rock carpet bombing, which when
tagged alongside the short, sharp 'In God We Trust,
Inc' release makes for 22 tracks of inspired nihilism,
from the classic 'Nazi Punks F**k Off' to a frankly
mental reworking of the 'Rawhide' theme music.
Dissecting the rampant commercialism/consumerism of
a money-led society 'Frankenchrist', attempted to
nip the MTV monopoly in the bud with the prophetic
'MTV Get Off The Air', while 1986's 'Bedtime…,'
with its proto- 'Dookie' artwork was the DK's most
intense, paranoid and outright thrashy release.
Finally 'Give Me Convenience…' is the 'greatest
hits' and, f**k me, there's plenty of them. So burn
your retarded piss-weak punk pretender records, listen
to this band and never be content with the world again.
- Ben Myers
Long Awaited Live Album by San Francisco Punk Legends
Mutiny On The Bay: Live From The San Francisco Bay
KKKKK (out of 5!)
HEY YOU, Blink 182 and Offspring fan,
you think you know what punk is? You haven't got a
f**kin' clue. Cop a load of this, the real deal, the
Dead f**kin' Kennedys, recorded live at their peak
from the San Francisco Bay in pristine quality.
Just in case you don't know, the Dead Kennedys were
the most politically subversive, creative punk band
to ever raise its ugly head from the American punk
underground. They had the best songs, the best lyrics
and the most insane frontman in Jello Biafra and judging
by this live document, they were the most ferocious
band onstage too! The energy and passion that floods
from this CD is so inspiring that it makes almost
every other punk album fall into insignificance.
There is none more punk. You need this album like
you need your brain. Buy it now, fool.
- James Sherry