Friday, 4 April 2008



This is a very solid 16 band 16 song compilation released in 1992 of some genuinely great bands covering Dead Kennedys tracks.  It was made to celebrate the 100th release by Alternative Tentacles and its 10th anniversary.

The Dead Kennedys was always a strange band with a sound that didn’t necessarily comfortably fit in with either the classic punk of the late seventies or the emerging hardcore scene in the early eighties, their guitar sound was almost.  However with Jello Biafra at the front spouting political discourse and rhetoric the band were both pioneering and a pain.

It says a lot that represented on this compilation are thrash metal, funk, rap, grunge, indie, country and all girl bands doing all kinds of variations on DK songs ranging from hip-hop to skiffle to acappela by acts from Brazil, France, England and Canada.

The song list is instantly recognisable as bands don’t shy away from the hits.  “Holiday In Cambodia” is tackled by Sub Pop act Sister Double Happiness who unfortunately do not necessarily bring much to the plate with their odd brand of alternative rock.  Elsewhere Michael Franti and The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy completely rework and nail their take of “California Uber Alles” which features samples of Biafra’s vocals sped up suddenly sounding like Feargal Sharkey.

Probably the best known cover on this compilation is the Faith No More rendering of “Let’s Lynch The Landlord” which later appeared as a b-side on their single “A Small Victory”.  With a huge sense of fun and adventure the track becomes a skiffle song driven by the sound of an accordion as Mike Patton chooses to ape the vocal range of Elvis instead of Biafra.  There is some very Nick Cave about the treatment.  And certainly this version feels vastly superior to the more straightforward take offered by L7 later on in the record.

As far as genre hopping goes, many of the acts do a fine job remaining both faithful to the songs and their own style.  It is not hard to imagine what Napalm Death and Sepultura do to “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” and “Drug Me” respectively.  Likewise Mojo Nixon brings his customary meta redneck approach to “Winnebago Warrior”.  It’s a perfect fit.

The most striking departure comes from NoMeansNo and their almost barbershop approach to “Forward To Death” which feels quite the inappropriate juxtaposition.

Tribute albums tend to be tough work as limit source material can clash with shoddy line-ups.  There are no such issues here.  This is fresh fruit.

Thesaurus moment: panegyric.

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