Dead Kennedys: The Early Years Live

January 28, 2012 4 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

I’ve never been too involved in the punk scene, but I have always liked the music of the Dead Kennedys, who blend political messages into their aggressive riffs. Led by frontman Jello Biafra, this four man (sometimes five) band has found a lot of success, but broke apart in the 1980s and haven’t been back together since. As he is not fond of commercialism, Biafra never wanted to release much aside from their normal CDs, but now that the other band members are in control of the material, some Dead Kennedys merchandise is starting to seep into the market. I’m sure fans are pleased with this, as some cool recordings are becoming available, including this one, The Early Years Live. This release runs about thirty minutes and showcases a number of live performances, from various locations in 1978-81. As a fan of the music, I was quite taken with the materials found here, but with a rather short running time, I was left wanting more. Even so, this release if well worth a look for fans of the band, as it features some very good performances. Below is a listing of the various songs performed and when/where the performance took place.

1. California Uber Alles (Mabuhay Gardens, San Francisco, 1979)
2. Kill the Poor (330 Grove Street, San Francisco, 1979)
3. Drug Me (Mabuhay Gardens, San Francisco, 1979)
4. The Man With The Dogs (Mabuhay Gardens, San Francisco, 1980)
5. Insight (Mabuhay Gardens, San Francisco, 1980)
6. Let’s Lynch The Landlord (Mabuhay Gardens, San Francisco, 1980)
7. Bleed For Me (Target Studios, San Francisco, 1981)
8. Holiday In Cambodia (Target Studios, San Francisco, 1981)
9. Viva Las Vegas (Sproul Plaza, Berkeley, 1978)

Video: How does it look?

The various clips are presented in full frame transfers, as intended. The footage was taken on what seems to be lower end cameras and as such, the image is less than stellar, but I imagine this is about as good as it gets in this case. The seventh and eighth tracks look much better than others, due to the younger age and environment involved. A couple of the tracks look rough, but given the circumstances, I can’t picture these being restored or cleaned up, so fans should be pleased with the transfers.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included stereo mix seems up to par, with a nice presence and minimal flaws to report. Of course, the stereo format imposes some limits on range and such, but I doubt any fans will be let down by the audio here. I did notice some small defects, but these were due to the source material and as inherent errors, I wasn’t too concerned about them. The music sounds as good as ever, while Biafra’s vocals come through crystal clear as well. No, this track won’t be your new musical demo option, but it sounds good enough, I think.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes bios of the band members, as well as a special sing-a-long option, which works on all the songs except the final one.

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