As musically open as you can be, Dead Kenndys’ Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables certainly needs a certain incline towards punk music in order to be fully appreciated.
One of the things that we can’t reproach at all in this album would be the lack of rhythm because the contrary is one of its biggest characteristics ; “Forward to Death”, “When Ya Get Drafted”, “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” and “Your Emotions” being among others very good examples of tracks offering very rhythmic sounds in a fast pace.
But punk being punk and myself personally being at the edge of my musical openness prism, I really have to confess that I found quite a few parts pretty unbearable to listen to, “Kill the Poor” for example especially because of the voice more harming the song in weird and jerky like sounds , than nicely going along with the music – which is obviously something not to expect from punk music.
Moreover, “Chemical Warfare” goes way further in the auditive torture, notably with its messy and terrible end. The quality of the latter also is very much to compare to the quality of the charming lyrics for “I Kill Children”, the title itself already being very evocative and “Stealing Peoples’ mail” pretty much sounding like the preceding track and the lyrics once again of a great creative depth basically inspiring what clearly seem to be the interest of these two tracks “we’re bad / utterly stupid / the biggest morons”, tracks to show they are punk in case we didn’t notice – there really is nothing to gain there.
However, and believe it or not there actually still are some points of interest, even in the unpleasant tracks, one of them being in general the supply of good music ! and when it doesn’t have to literally save the song, because of the singer spoiling it, either by his singing or the lyrics, the music appear as even better and there are tracks that we thus can get to like , even without this “certain incline toward punk music” !
This way, “Your Emotions” is effective although being short, and same for “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” which is as good and as short ; the only format seemingly showing their best qualities.
And when it comes to the qualities, this album is most remarkable for its ability to convey feelings or lack of feeling an messages ; notably thanks to powerful guitar and drum pieces in “Let’s Lynch the Landlord”, “I Kill Children“and “Drug Me” that I especially mention for its powerful effect, a perfect musical adaptation of its title and concept, evoking a never-ending psychedelic swirling rays like picture – probably the best song representing drugs ever.
So in the end, a pretty mixed feeling is left between the remarkable musical contributions this album offers, and the appalling quality of a non negligible number of tracks.