Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review #116: Dead Kennedys - In God We Trust, Inc. (EP) (1981)


Year: 1981
Genre: Punk Rock
Label: Alternative Tentacles Records

13 Minutes (Short)
My Rating:

The Dead Kennedys was a band from San Francisco, California. As one of the main bands of the hardcore punk movement during the '80s, their music was wildly experimental, and their lyrics were amazingly good at conveying a point and the bad things about America in the modern era. "In God We Trust, Inc." was the second main release from the Dead Kennedys. The music here is pretty conventionally hardcore, especially on the first half of the album, but the second half experiments with some other genres of music. So I'm not sure what else to say right now, so let's listen to the music!

1. Religious Vomit
This song's really fast, and it sings about how the band hates religion because they all claim to have the answer "when they don't even know the question", and they just want your money and consciousness. Cool riff n' stuff.

2. Moral Majority
Starts with the sounds of a mock-church choir humming praises to their at this point un-named god. The greedy preacher beckons the congregation to give him money and pray... Turns out their idol is none other than... "M-I-C...K-E-Y... M-O-U-S-E..." -- I fucking cracked up the first time I heard this. The song segues into the thrashy main part of the song. It criticizes the people who call themselves the "Moral Majority" who strive for a fascist, idealized right-wing version of how the world should be -- basically a theocracy (with a little war-mongering to top things off). These people just want your damn money and they're greedy bastards who usually end up to be guilty of all of the things that preach against (Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, George Rekers, the Catholic Church, etc.) "God must be dead if they're alive", Jello proclaims. Hell, these people want to burn books! Sound familiar? Jello's message to Ronald Reagan, Jerry Falwell, Jesse Helms, Terry Dolan, Phyllis Schafly, and Anita Bryant? BLOW IT OUT YOUR ASS!!!

3. Hyperactive Child
Great riff in both the verse and chorus. This song's about a child in school who's "tired of kissing ass" and forced to sit down and listen to lies in school all day. However, he just can't take it anymore and can't stop fidgeting in his seat, so they drag him away, "ram a needle in his butt", and now he's sedated to worship the flag and be watched by cameras in brick wall-laden halls for the rest of the day! HA HAH HAH! (evil laugh)

4. Kepone Factory
This song's the unfortunate story of a guy who finally finds a job working for a factory moving barrels. Unfortunately, the Kepone in the factory is slowly poisoning and giving some pretty damn bad side effects.

5. Dog Bite
The band attempts a first take, and then decides to start over. I can't really figure out what this song's about. But apparently some guy got bit on the leg by a doggy. Probably my least favorite song on here. End of Side 1.

6. Nazi Punks Fuck Off
I've heard this song was supposed to be a diss on the English band the Exploited, who got in a conflict with the Dead Kennedys and are notable for their macho attitude and stereotypical lyrics and looks. Supposedly the Exploited wrote a song back, but I don't know what it's called (if someone knows, please inform me). Anyways, Jello sings "PUNK AIN'T NO RELIGIOUS CULT, PUNK MEANS THINKING FOR YOURSELF: YOU AIN'T HARDCORE WHEN YOU SPIKE YOUR HAIR IF A JOCK STILL LIVES INSIDE YOUR HEAD!". The song goes on to criticize the violent "cops" of the punk scene (punks who try to enforce conformity on others in the scene) and tells them that they'll be the first to go when the "Fourth Reich" begins. Love this song.

7. We've Got a Bigger Problem Now
This is a new version of "California Uber Alles". However, as the title implies, there's "a bigger problem" in the whole country. The first half of the song is a bassly lounge-style rendition of the song. After a spoken part, Jello sings, "I am Emperor Ronald Reagan, born again with fascist cravings". He talks about taking away rights and forcing everyone to pray Christian prayers in school. Halfway through, the song revs it up and returns to an aggressive hardcore format for a short bit. It relaxes for a bit, and then slowly builds up to an aggressive style again. It's basically the old song with new lyrics. Jello goes on to sing about 1984 and being forced to go to boot camp and stuff. While listening to it now these lyrics might seem a little paranoid/dated, remember that Ronald Reagan had just entered the office the year this record came out and nobody had any idea what he was going to do -- eight years to potentially fuck EVERYTHING up, with the Cold War still going on, y'know? And hey, who says it'll never happen? Ya never know... sadly, a lot of people still worship Ronald Reagan today, including my own parents. That's just the way it was. Someday people will probably look at George W. Bush in the same light. Funny how history mysteriously re-writes itself...

8. Rawhide
This is a cover of the theme song for an American western show from the 1960s called "Rawhide". It's a pretty direct cover other than the fact that it's done in a punk-ish style, but the lyrics when used in the Dead Kennedys' context actually makes some pretty damn excellent satire (read the lyrics and you'll figure it out). Ha hah hah!

On the cassette tape version, the band put the whole EP on the A-side of the tape and left the B-side blank. Their reason for doing this? Well, the BPI was starting to feel threatened by the fact that people were using their tape-recorders to record music FOR FREE instead of buying albums to give the record industry its precious money that it just totally doesn't have. So, there was a flyer that showed a "skull and crossbones" with a cassette tape instead of a skull saying "HOME TAPING IS KILLING MUSIC -- AND IT'S ILLEGAL!" (which it isn't). So, being advocates AGAINST the record industry, the Kennedys (the Dead ones, that is) put a parody of that on the B-side of their tape version of "In God We Trust, Inc.", saying: "HOME TAPING IS KILLING RECORD INDUSTRY PROFITS! WE LEFT THIS SIDE BLANK SO YOU CAN HELP." Gahah! So yeah, this is a good Dead Kennedys record like all of their other records and you should get it. And by the way -- I'M DONE WITH SCHOOL FOR THE YEAR! YIPEE!!

Top 3 Favorites:
1. Nazi Punks Fuck Off
Moral Majority
3. We've Got a Bigger Problem Now

1 comment:

  1. Can't be 100% sure but i think the Exploited song "USA" was kinda meant as a reply to "Nazi punks fuck off". Atlest their singer Wattie dedicated the song to Jello Biafra on live gigs. But what a poorass comeback.