Dead Kennedys | Frankenchrist | Retro Album Review
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The 1980s was a decade that defined and spread all different types of music from new wave to heavy metal. While the tendency is to associate punk rock with the 1970s in the UK, it exploded in the US throughout the 80s. A classic US 80s punk album is Dead Kennedys’ third album, FrankenChrist, released in 1985.
Compared to Dead Kennedys’ other discography, Frankenchrist has a more psychedelic punk sound, as opposed to the traditional hardcore sound of their debut album, Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables. The guitars have more of an atmospheric sound, and their songs tended to be slower and more drawn-out. However, something that stays the same compared to the other albums are the messages in the songs.
For example, “MTV Get Off The Air” is a clear slam of the music industry, specifically the radio and television industry. “Tin eared graph-paper brained accountants, instead of music fans, call all the shots at giant record companies now…the dumbest buy the mostest, that’s the name of the game.” This set of lyrics from the song provides commentary on how music fans no longer seem to have a say in what music gets played on the radio and channels like MTV, and the industry values profit over creativity.
A lot of musicians agree that this sentiment is relevant today, even if the culprit has moved to streaming services rather than tv channels and radio. A fan favorite song, “Jock-O-Rama” provides excellent social commentary on how certain demographics such as rich white jocks seem to get away with a lot more than most people because of America’s values. “Jock o Rama, save my soul / we’re under the thumb of the Beef Patrol / The future of America is in their hands / watch it roll over Niagra Falls.”
Although not everyone agrees with the sentiments in the album, it’s impossible to deny that this album is a classic punk rock staple. The lyrics seem to be relevant no matter the decade, and its unique guitar sound sets it apart from the other hardcore punk albums that were being produced at the time. Despite Frankenchrist not being Dead Kennedys’ most popular album, it’s one of their most well-done and will continue to play loud and fuel strong emotions for decades.