DEAD KENNEDYS – “California über Alles” / “Man With The Dogs” (Fast Product F12) October 1979

What, anarchy in the USA? This ‘controversial’ American band has been talked about for ages, but I can’t understand why. The drums and bass at the beginning promise a possible goodie, but everything quickly merges into a flat, messy fuzz. Horrible voices, daft words. I’d sooner listen to Jimmy Carter. (Smash Hits)

Dead Kennedys rant against Zen lemmings began to take shape while Biafra was living in Boulder, Colorado – “a new age yuppie cesspool”, he says, “long before either term was invented. So many people crawling around looking for a guru to tell them what to do.”

Moving to San Francisco, Biafra was horrified to find such a guru wannabe there – California’s Governor Jerry Brown. His line that the people were looking for a leader sent “a chill” down Biafra’s spine and inspired a song crammed with heady allusions; Orwell’s 1984, Bergman’s The Serpent’s Egg and the German national anthem.

The debut Kennedys single became a popular concert singalong, though Biafra stopped goose-stepping around the stage when it was misinterpreted as pro-Nazi. It spawned many parodies, including Jello Over-rated. (Mojo)

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