Released in 1980 I got round to hearing this in 1984. The single is the Dead Kennedy’s 2nd ever release and is different to the re-recorded version that features on their debut album “Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables”.
The single is more direct than the album version. If truth be told, I prefer the album version as it has more guitar build up and is musically more accomplished. Then again, there’s not a lot in it, both versions are fantastic.
The band can suffer from being too layered. They do need a trained ear. Fortunately there is always a lyric sheet with their output in one form or another. The genial sardonic lyric is less lost on this classic. Holiday In Cambodia is accessible – practically everyone that hears it will be unable to deny it’s immediate appeal and truly great sound.
Holiday In Cambodia is probably the best Hardcore Single ever released. It has a brutal controlled sound that will hit the spot with even a mainstream listener.
A bass and high-hat tease in the intro. Quickly it’s added to with scraping, building guitar. Rapidly a very powerful, deep riff forms. A rolling snare drum and you’re in. Jello Biafra adds a controlled heavily ironic vocal.
Before you know it classic lines are delivered “Kiss ass while you bitch so you can get rich – but you’re boss gets richer off you”. Western ideas of superiority are explored and ridiculed. The track is an education on complacency and ignorance.
As it builds to the “Pol-Pot” lines – not only is the lyric up their with the best you will hear, but the music is matching it all the way. A very powerful record. Also of note, the B-Side, “Police Truck” is a better track than most bands could ever dream of making, not as good as Holiday In Cambodia, but it gives it a damn good run for its money.
In the late 90’s Levi’s wanted to use the record for an ad. The band agreed but Jello Biafra stood firm that the record would not be used to promote the Levis. Citing sweatshop conditions and exploitation, he stood against the rest of the band and a law suit was filed. Levi’s never got hold of the record. A credit, especially given the message of the record.
A killer single that introduced me to one of the best bands I’ve ever heard. Many Dead Kennedy’s singles should make my Top 20 Singles – but there’s no denying – for its sheer accessibility and unique sound this record stands alone.