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Dead Kennedys' Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (33⅓ #105)

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  60 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
In 1978, San Francisco, a city that has seen more than its share of trauma, plunged from a summer of political tension into an autumn cascade of malevolence that so eluded human comprehension it seemed almost demonic. The battles over property taxes and a ballot initiative calling for a ban on homosexuals teaching in public schools gave way to the madness of the Jonestown ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 21st 2015 by Bloomsbury Academic (first published April 23rd 2015)
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Apr 05, 2015 Joseph rated it really liked it
Shelves: punk-rock

For kids born in the late 1950s and beyond, who felt they had been robbed of the American Dream and abandoned by the people who last went to the culture barricades, Fresh Fruit actually offered hope.

My first encounter with the Dead Kennedys was in a pulp rock magazine, probably Creem. It wasn't a positive reaction. The band's name was a turn off for someone born after the Kennedy assassination. It was years later when I finally listened to the band. Cleveland's WMMS was a world class rock statio
Alex Sarll
An account situating the best punk album ever (my claim, not Foley's) in the moment of American decline that gave it birth, and unravelling some of the bigger misconceptions around the band. That name, for instance, which even some other punks found a bit much, was not just offence for offence's sake - several of the band themselves had keen memories of how shocked they'd been by JFK's murder. And building on that, there's the importance of remembering that, in San Francisco at least, punks ...more
Rob Adey
Jan 25, 2016 Rob Adey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Fresh Fruit... was my first proper taste of punk (if you don't count The Toy Dolls...); I think I got a copy of it taped off a cooler kid at FE college before I'd even filled my 30-tape briefcase-style cassette rack. At the time, my friends and I were a bit obsessed with rating any rock/metal music on a scale of 'hardness', from Marillion at one end to things like Testament at the other. Hearing the Dead Kennedys immediately broke that scale - they didn't have the thick tectonic guitars of thras ...more
Ashley Acosta-Fox
Oct 24, 2016 Ashley Acosta-Fox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first 33 1/3 book I have read, though my husband and a friend have been fans of the series for a while. I don't have a basis of comparison with other 33 1/3 books, but I thought this one was very well-written. The historical perspective was especially valuable - as an east coaster who has visited the Bay Area exactly one time in my life but a fan of Dead Kennedys for about the last 17 or so years, it offered a nice primer of some of the political issues facing the marginalized ...more
Nov 14, 2016 Joe rated it liked it
Interesting but a little dry, and too many of his conclusions were that the DKs were smarter and better than any other political punk band and any critics were wrong. I even kind of agree with the first part of that, but it doesn't make for compelling reading or arguments. What I found most interesting actually was reading after Trump's election, since this delves into a period where anger at post-Sixties complacency is driving young people to more active political engagement. I feel some ...more
Joshua Buhs
Oct 22, 2016 Joshua Buhs rated it really liked it
When I was in junior high, seventh grade, I think, so 1985 or so, I took shop class. It was taught by the stereotypical shop teacher, an older, conservative man. I remember one day him dressing down another kid int eh class--don't remember his name--who had patches of the bands he liked sewn onto his denim jacket. One was "Dead Kennedy." The shop teacher kept asking him if he thought that was a good name, if he was happy that Kennedys had been killed, how he thought the Kennedys themselves felt, ...more
Stefanie Lubkowski
Let's face it, how much typical music analysis could you really apply to an album like Fresh Fruit? Instead, this book presents a compelling study of the political and cultural circumstances in late 70s San Francisco and how the Dead Kennedys' first album was a reaction to and critique of current events. And things were bad: police crackdown of counterculture and real estate development that callously displaced the working class, the elderly poor, and immigrant communities put the city on track ...more
Sep 19, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
This entry in the 33 1/3 series looks at The Dead Kennedys' first album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, which contains my favorite DK's song, "Holiday in Cambodia". Largely eschewing musical analysis of any kind, Foley concentrates on the political and social context of the album, chronicling the politics and punk scene of late 1970s San Francisco and detailing the Dead Kennedys' role in it all. While I would have liked a little more discussion of the music itself, I got a lot out of Foley' ...more
Andrew Nolan
Sep 28, 2015 Andrew Nolan rated it it was ok
For my tastes Foley misses the delicate balance in contextualizing the early years of Dead Kennedys with the social and political milieu they were born out of.

If you are somewhat familiar with the political landscape of the time - or if you don't need convincing that the nihilism of early punk contained a utopian drive - then much of this book is probably unnecessary for you.

Foley has written a cultural history of post-war to Reagan era San Francisco with a punk band as his anchor.

If you're lo
Mason Jones
May 12, 2016 Mason Jones rated it really liked it
Another good entry in the 33-1/3 series, this one's appropriately a very political book. About half of the book is about the band and the album, and the other half is about the political and social situation in San Francisco from 1977-1980 as the band got together and worked their way toward recording and releasing their first album. Having lived in San Francisco since the late 80s probably made the story more directly interesting to me than it might be to others, but there was a lot happening, ...more
Morgan (Turbo)
Aug 14, 2015 Morgan (Turbo) rated it it was amazing
This book is about the first album of one of my favorite bands, the Dead Kennedys and the author does a fantastic job describing the context of the album. The reader can really see the care that went into this book, even by looking at the notes, bibliography, and index of song titles. It's over one hundred pages but reads really fast. I would recommend it to any Dead Kennedys fan or someone interested in the history of San Francisco in the Decade of Hate.
Mitch Gage
Oct 12, 2015 Mitch Gage rated it really liked it
Pretty cool. A thorough examination of the social scene in late 70s SF. A great companion to Season of the Witch. Wish it had a bit more insight into the album along with all the description of its place in time.
Dec 29, 2015 Tripp rated it it was ok
This one didn't work for me. It is about the context from which the Dead Kennedys arose, not so much the band or the music itself. I was interested in some, but really wanted to hear more about the band.
Sep 25, 2015 Rich rated it it was amazing
One of my favorites, since it outlines the album against the history of San Francisco of the time, when politely corruption, assassination, and brutal policing made for a hostile environment. The DKs were uncompromising...a great book about a great piece of wry political art.
Robert rated it really liked it
Jun 21, 2016
Mark rated it liked it
Oct 15, 2015
Alex rated it liked it
Jan 01, 2016
brilliant .
Philip Bardach
Philip Bardach rated it liked it
Jun 04, 2016
Ellen A.
Ellen A. rated it really liked it
Aug 03, 2015
Louis Picone
Louis Picone rated it really liked it
Apr 10, 2016
Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez
Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez rated it it was amazing
May 20, 2015
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Feb 10, 2016
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Apr 18, 2016
mr A Street
mr A Street rated it it was amazing
Jan 15, 2016
Rodrigo Perez Pereira
Rodrigo Perez Pereira rated it it was amazing
Mar 23, 2016
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Aug 31, 2015
Jean Jacoby
Jean Jacoby rated it it was amazing
May 05, 2016
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Jul 14, 2015
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Jul 22, 2015
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