Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: 25th Anniversary Edition

Dead Kennedys
Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: 25th Anniversary Edition

I don’t know that there is much to say about the Dead Kennedys and its seminal debut release Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables that hasn’t been said a thousand times over. Yes, the Dead Kennedys were one of the most influential punk-rock bands of yesteryear. Indeed, the politics are just as applicable today as they were in 1980, and the music stands the test of time – especially when the likes of Green Day are considered punk by throngs of teenagers. But one has to wonder what yet another re-release of this disc expects to accomplish after more than two decades.

The material on Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: 25th Anniversary Edition is essentially the same as the original. The songs and cover art remain identical, but they’ve been given a bit of shiny edge. The cover art is enhanced by better technology and printing, and the modern digipak includes a reproduction of the original liner notes as well as a discography. The songs have been remastered, but honestly that doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot considering the quality of punk recordings at the time. In other words, don’t expect anything to sound drastically different here when compared to the original pressing.

While these things aren’t problems by any stretch of the imagination, most people hope for some sort of new material with re-releases – in particular those marking an anniversary or other major milestone. There is no bonus material as far as the album is concerned – not an unreleased track, B-side, or other rarity to be found anywhere. So why bother shelling out your hard-earned money for this disc unless you are replacing a worn-out copy or wanting to take a nostalgic trip back to your youth?

There is really only one reason to buy Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: 25th Anniversary Edition, and that is the 55-minute DVD Fresh Fruit for Rotting Eyeballs. Not only does the DVD include all sorts of rare images, posters, and articles, but there is tons of commentary from the band members (with the exception of Jello Biafra, of course). East Bay Ray and Klaus are featured in new interviews where they discuss the formation of the Dead Kennedys, the group’s first show in San Francisco, and the recording of the first album. There’s also footage of other people involved in one way or another, including the band’s first manager, the promoter from the club where the Kennedys got its start, and even Jello’s ex-wife. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Eyeballs also includes concert footage of six songs that are a great edition to the DVD and are sure to please old and new fans alike.

Even if you already have a copy of the original or one of the subsequent re-releases of this album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: 25th Anniversary Edition is worth picking up simply for the DVD. While it would have been nice to get some extra material on the album itself, I can understand the reasoning for keeping it as unchanged as possible. While it’s a shame that Jello Biafra didn’t participate in this anniversary release, the group’s split from its frontman has become part of the Dead Kennedys legacy. This re-release and especially the included documentary are a fitting tribute to a band that impacted the music world in magnificent ways.