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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Dead Kennedys
Live at the Deaf Club 1979
Manifesto Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
The Dead Kennedys have always been on the fringe for me - not in the context of the music itself, or their politics, but on the fringe of my musical scope. I have probably listened to all of their albums; in fact, I own a few. I know quite a bit about them and their controversial front man, Jello Biafra. I even had a Lard album at one time. Aside from a handful of singles, they never seemed to stick - as if I was born 10 years too late and on the wrong coast to appreciate them.

Live at the Deaf Club 1979 serves to bridge the appreciation gap between the Dead Kennedys and me. Studio albums really don't do punk and hardcore justice. The Dead Kennedys are a band that, as Deaf Club seems to illustrate, needs an audience. Jello Biafra doesn't just play the role of front man, he holds court in the Deaf Club. He sounds comfortable, confident and at times even confrontational with the crowd ("Dance, you lemmings!").

Surprisingly perpendicular to punk ethos, the recording quality is top-notch, considering that the show was recorded from a microphone dangling from the ceiling of the venue. The Dead Kennedys are tight, aggressive, and most importantly, live.

Deaf Club provides not only the live experience, for those who wish they could have been there, but it opens a window into the scene, and places some its own romanticism into glaring relief.

A great deal of the punk scene (not unlike any other scene) was posturing and fashion statements. But an uglier, more sinister movement in the history of punk rock shows up on this recording. After "California Über Alles", Biafra admonishes some in the audience, "Think about what you're doing when you pull those Hitler salutes!" He then goes on to dedicate "Ill in the Head" to the "blind Hitler-saluters".

It is odd that with all of the DK logos punks still wear today, most of the printed histories of punk I've ever read (and even ones that I didn't), the Dead Kennedys never seem to merit their own chapter - however, they seem to have some of the most voluminous index references. Perhaps in the eyes of music history they were eclipsed by much more influential acts in the American independent hardcore & punk underground like Minor Threat, Black Flag, and the Minutemen. The most likely reason is they hung in there too long. Most of the famous controversial punk bands don't have enough songs to fill a compilation because they weren't around long enough to create them. Essentially, the longer one remains controversial, the easier it becomes to marginalize.

This is perhaps their legacy: they were an important footnote in the history of punk rock, their influence and the creative force that was Alternative Tentacles paved the way for their more notorious contemporaries. Live at the Deaf Club 1979 is a chance for the discerning punk enthusiast to rewind the clock. It's a beautiful thing when I can put on headphones and just imagine what it was really like to experience a scene from one of the most exciting times in the history of rock and roll.

Reviewed by John Peters
A former contributing writer for LAS, John married former music editor Sarah Iddings. That\'s the last we heard from him.

See other reviews by John Peters

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