Dead Kennedys

Kill the Poor

Composed by Dead Kennedys / East Bay Ray / Jello Biafra

Song Review by

The opening track to Dead Kennedys' debut album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, taking as its starting point the then-new neutron bomb, designed to kill people but leave their valuables intact, "Kill the Poor" defined what the band was all about. To sum it up punk-inspired energy and arrangements, but a smart sense of pop hooks and a rampaging, not-to-be-held back slam against political and social business as usual on as many levels as possible. Singer Jello Biafra's unique but passionate quaver leads things off, but the band themselves create something as much indebted to surf music and '60s AM pop as it is to the blast of punk rock. The brilliantly catchy chorus -- "Kill-kill-kill-kill, kill the poor, toni-I-I-I-ght!" -- is both funny and pointed, while Biafra's conflation of liberal complacency, conservative aggression, and societal ignorance is both pithy and memorably sung in his breathy, nervous way. East Bay Ray's guitar work does the business with just enough sting, while drummer Ted and bassist Klaus Flouride stop and start on a dime as needed, creating enough vim and vigor for any setting.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables 1980 Cherry Red
Burning Ambitions 1982
Various Artists
Cherry Red 3:05
Punk and Disorderly 1993
Various Artists
The Orchard Records 3:09
Kill the Poor 1995 Cherry Red 3:06
Cherry Red Records Punk Singles Collection 1995
Various Artists
Anagram 3:06
Burning Ambitions: A History of Punk, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
Cleopatra 3:05
Best of Punk & Disorderly 1996
Various Artists
Cleopatra 3:06
God Save the Queen: 1976-1996/20 Years of Punk 1997
Various Artists
Cleopatra
SLC Punk 1999
Original Soundtrack
Hollywood 3:05
Burning Ambitions: A History of Punk, Vols. 1-3 1999
Various Artists
Cleopatra 3:05
The Shit Factory: Greatest Punk Swindle [Dressed to Kill] 1999
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 3:07
Punk and Disorderly, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Cleopatra 3:09
Silver Jubilee: Twenty-Five Years of Punk 2001
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 3:07
Burning Ambitions: A History of Punk [Box] 2001
Various Artists
Cleopatra 3:05
Mutiny on the Bay 2001 Decay 3:04
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Cleopatra
The Entire History of Punk 2001
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 3:06
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Metro
The Very Best of Punk & Disorderly 2002
Various Artists
Anagram 3:07
Live at the Deaf Club 1979 2004 Manifesto Records 3:57
Teenage Kicks: Punk, Vol. 2 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:04
Milking the Sacred Cow 2007 Cherry Red
I'll Give You My Heart, I'll Give You My Heart 2008
Various Artists
Cherry Red 3:04
Original Singles Collection 2014 eOne / Manifesto Records 3:01
blue highlight denotes editor's pick