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Tom Willis - Paperback - The Record That Changed My Life

By · April 27th, 2005 · Under The Influence
Tom Willis - Paperback
Dale M. Johnson

Tom Willis - Paperback

Dead Kennedys -- Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

The album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables by the Dead Kennedys was introduced to me in fourth grade. It was one side of an Elvis Costello tape that my friend stole from his mom to record his step-dad's "crazy music." The other side of the tape was My War by Black Flag.

Though Black Flag is what I listened to first and was my first exposure to Punk, it was the Dead Kennedys that solidified my interest. It completely changed my perception on what music could be. It was no longer something to dance to: It was a medium through which to communicate ideas and information. I cannot imagine a more perfect Punk band. All the ingredients are there. Great musicianship (by any standard, not just Punk), a solid rhythm section, an unusual guitar style, great lyrics and a logo that kids can draw over and over again on their notebooks. The album has more than enough content to piss off authority figures. The first song, "Kill the Poor," begs you to sing along to the chorus but, unlike some of today's acts that rely on shock value to get your attention, there was actually a message in every one of these songs. I'll leave the track-by-track interpretations to the curious listener. But there is not a weak track on this album, right up to "Viva Las Vegas," which ends the album proper. To me, the core of their message is "Question Everything," a terrific value to bestow on our children. Yeah, that's right, Tipper! I said it. Dead Kennedys are good for our children. This was a value that was made a part of me upon listening to this album and subsequent DK releases, as well as other Punk albums.

PAPERBACK (paperbackmusic.net) performs Friday at the York Street Café with Emily Hagihara, Dr. Jones and Killjoy Confetti.



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