Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables is one of the finest debut albums I’ve ever heard. A near crime that I did not include it in my 20 Albums section. Already I’d like to re-jig my 20 Albums including the Number One.
It would be easy (and wrong) to label the sound as simply Hardcore Punk. There’e an awful lot going on it the Dead Kennedys sound. If you listen closely enough rockabilly suggests itself along with Garage influences and bands such as The Monks.
Kill The Poor (Biafra / East Bay Ray) sounds clean and speedy. Lashings of sound with a superb tongue-in-cheek fictional politician stance from Biafra. A catchy chorus that you just wouldn’t sing in public through fear of being misunderstood.
Forward To Death (6025) is short and fiercly challenging. Despite the grim nature of the lyric the music just flies along. Not as strong as the opener but a very solid album track that holds its own ’til Biafra’s last wheeze.
When Ya Get Drafted (Biafra) flies along too. Fast. Anti-war. Paranoid visions from Biafra strong enough to make anyone think twice about joining the forces. The brains outweigh the brawn and power of the track. Sublime.
Let’s Lynch The Landlord (Biafra) made me think ill of landlords for all of my life. Greed bashing matched equally with surf-punk. Longer than the previous two tracks but still frighteningly short at just over two minutes – it packs a mighty punch in its short span.
Drug Me (Biafra) on first listen got me reaching for the lyric sheet. Ridiculously fast vocals and jarring music that breaks after a while to swirl and only to go faster still.
Your Emotions (East Bay Ray) surges and raises questions that go unanswered. Individuality is positively suggested somehow in its veiled theme.
Chemical Warfare (Biafra) is a storytelling masterpiece. Punchy and as strong as the album opener albeit in a very different way. In its final third the track spins out of control. The Dead Kennedys do this sound so well. The music descends temporaily into controlled chaos before checking itself and regathering to a super-punch-out finish.
California Uber Alles (Biafra / Greenway) kicks off side two with the strongest sound we’ve heard the band deliver thus far. Incredibly controlled sound. Near military precision. An anthem, even if that’s the last way the band would like the track to be seen. It works on so many levels that it should have actually been a proper hit single. A classic.
I Kill Children (Biafra) with its unflinching title is a challenging track. The Dead Kennedys make you think – always a good thing.
Stealing People’s Mail (Biafra) spurts too. More surf-punk. Wicked guitar breaks add to another strong album track.
Funland At The Beach (Biafra) whines in with chasing guitar. The sound solidifies to deliver a powerful riff. The up-and-down riff matches Biafra perfectly pitched sarcasm.
Ill In The Head (Biafra / 6025) is more angular than any other track. Near Zappa in its shooting changes and close jazz ensemble.
Holiday In Cambodia (Biafra / Greenway) is the album show stopper. That drawl on the guitar fretboard. Pluckily it gathers into a swirling menace of sheer brilliance. The version of Holiday In Cambodia on Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables is stronger than the single version. It’s an attack on Western ideas of supremacy that is so well delivered that on first hear you can almost feel your mind expanding. Complacency is questioned and ridiculed “kiss ass whislt you bitch so you can get rich, but your boss gets richer off you”. The track is a wake-up call. Jello Biafra deserves utmost respect for turning down Levi’s using the track for commercial reasons, especially considering the theme of the lyric. No sell-out and ultimate kudos for this epic.
Viva Las Vegas (Pomus / Shuman) show the band can do humour. It’s needed at the end of an astonishing LP.
If anything I prefer Plastic Surgery Disasters as it raises the bar further with paranoid visions and is so solid throughout. Musically Fresh Fruit may just be the bands finest moment. Either way it’s a close call…