Song of the Day: Dead Kennedys

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Hyping the Misfits on Halloween -- and a great documentary on The Ramones -- have inspired me to do a week of classic punk here on your favorite MP3 blog. Today, we look at one of the angriest and, subsequently, most dangerous punk bands ever: Dead Kennedys.

Throughout much of high school, the back of my leather jacket was adorned with a large patch bearing the band's angry, angular logo. There was a smaller patch of Jello Biafra nearby. I had pink hair, and I listened to DK every day. No punk had as big an impact on my life as Dead Kennedys.

First, the politics were more sophisticated than your average high-school-notebook angst: paranoid rants against Nazis; dark, brooding thoughts about the inherent evil of the California police and legislature; a cruel suggestion that posh, posing kids who think they have it tough should visit the third world. Theirs was a world in which men of power were beasts and American citizens were too busy with plastic surgery, shiny cars and TV to fight back.

And the music matched the rabid, unrelenting, frenetic intensity of frontman Jello Biafra -- at times as powerful and convincing as a dictator and a genuine agent of change before his eventual fall off the deep end threatened to make his previous arguments irrelevant. In the early years, they fought law and they won with a barrage of punk rock that -- on "The Man with the Dogs," "Police Truck" and "Holiday in Cambodia" -- sounds like breaking glass with rock.