Demand it on Vinyl: Dead Kennedys, DK40 3CD set in stores 4/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Out of the hundreds of punk bands that emerged from the late ’70s punk scene, only about a dozen or so have achieved iconic status four decades later. They include the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Damned from the U.K.; the Ramones and Patti Smith Group from New York; X, the Germs and Black Flag from Los Angeles; and from San Francisco, the Dead Kennedys.

The DKs embodied the spirit of punk from the get-go. Their very name was a shocking reminder of the collapse of the American Dream. Then again, the name would be nothing if the Dead Kennedys didn’t have the goods to back it up. DK40, a three-CD live collection due April 26 from Manifesto Records, offers the aural evidence that the Dead Kennedys were one of the most potent punk bands — period. It features the band serving up amped-up live versions of all their classic tracks, free from the constraints of the recording studio.

Formed in 1978 after guitarist East Bay Ray’s ad in The Recycler attracted the attention of singer Jello Biafra, they were soon joined by bassist Klaus Flouride; guitarist 6025 and drummer Ted. D.H Peligro soon took over the rule of the drum chair.

After gigging around the Bay Area, they soon built a reputation cemented by the release of their first single, “California Über Alles,” on their own DIY label, within a year of their formation. Over a boleroesque rhythm consisting of pounding drums, throbbing bass and jagged guitar lines, Biafra lays into then-and-future California Governor Jerry Brown and the hippy dream. The song includes such memorable lines as “It’s the suede denim secret police / They have come for your uncool niece.”

With their follow-up, 1980’s “Holiday in Cambodia,” the DKs showed no signs of letting up. It offered a brutal take on the powers behind the Vietnam War, with East Bay Ray’s iconic guitar parts showing people that the DKs were very much a musical force to be reckoned with.

The band went onto release their debut album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, in 1980, featuring newly recorded versions of “California Über Alles” and “Holiday in Cambodia,” along with other classics such as “Kill the Poor,” “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” and a notable cover of the Elvis Presley hit “Viva Las Vegas.” The subsequent releases, the 1981 EP, “In God We Trust, Inc.,” 1982’s Plastic Surgery Disasters and 1985’s Frankenchrist albums followed. Live versions of the material from these releases are showcased on DK40.

Disc 1 captures the DKs at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1982, with a 13-song set, including “Holiday in Cambodia,” “Nazi Punks Fuck Off,” and “Too Drunk to Fuck.” The second disc has the DKs at Alabama Halle in Munich, Germany, also in 1982, with an 18-track set, including “Man With the Dogs,” “Police Truck,” and “Chemical Warfare.” The final disc of DK40 captures the band back on its home turf, at the Farm in San Francisco in 1985, with a 16-song romp that includes “Soup Is Good Food,” “Stars And Stripes Of Corruption,” and “MTV Get Off The Air.”

While the DKs continue on following lineup changes, including the departure of Jello Biafra – vocalist Skip McSkipster of the Wynona Riders now bringing the songs to thousands of fans — DK40 captures the band at the height of their youthful exuberance, with the classic lineup of Jello Biafra, East Bay Ray, Klaus Flouride, and D.H Peligro.

You’ll find DK40 even more fun than a holiday in Cambodia and the band’s blistering counsel is even more relevant today. They are here to remind us, “It’s never too late to think.”

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