The Dead Kennedys go out in a blaze of snarling, defiant glory in their final studio release. They drub a bushel basket's worth of entrenched interests, including scientists, the military, the power hungry, macho attitudes, classicism, lie detectors, Reagan and his economic policies, the press, the entertainment industry, and the commercialization of rock and revolutionary attitudes. The album's manic speed punk style recalls In God We Trust Inc., particularly on the frenetic cover of Johnny Paycheck's hit "Take This Job and Shove It." When the tempo slows, a few songs resemble frantic rockabilly; of these, "Hop With the Jetset" lampoons the privileged classes, "I Spy" savages government agents, and "Where Do Ya Draw the Line" is a plea in favor of anarchy. The quiet, furtive "D.M.S.O." is a highly atypical number strongly resembling the theme to The Pink Panther. The lengthy, anthemic "Cesspools in Eden" is a hard rock number with unusual chord changes and lyrics railing against toxic waste; similarly, "Chickenshit Conformist" alternates slow and hyperfast sections and sports wide-ranging verses that constitute a scathing indictment of the rock music industry. As usual, the rushed hardcore numbers often garble or swallow up the well-written lyrics (if you want people to follow you into revolution, your ideas need to be intelligible). The album cover sports witheringly disparaging artwork; also included in this release are two muckraking newspapers, one containing clip art, and the other written articles about the obscenity trial embroiling the band at that point. While it's not totally successful, at least the Dead Kennedys had the satisfaction of going out on their own terms. It's all well worth hearing.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by David Cleary