Look, if you know anything about the Dead Kennedys then nothing in this ranking will surprise you, so let’s make things interesting. I’ll list the albums in their proper order of quality, the way our lord and savior Jesus Christ intended, and instead of reviewing the album I’ll describe the affiliated lawsuit each album incurred. Sound good? No? Well fuck you, I’m doing it anyway.
4. Bedtime for Democracy (1986)
“Bedtime for Democracy” is the best effort in giving up that the band could muster at the time. Which is why the court case most closely associated with the album was actually a simple slip and fall case in which frontman Jello Biafra, fully racked up with a neck brace and only one crutch, hobbled out of the studio on the last day of recording. The singer claims to have tripped over a slice of loose carpeting in the booth, and that’s why this album blows.
Play it again: “Take This Job and Shove It”
Skip it: “Fleshdunce”
3. Frankenchrist. (1985)
Alright, alright, we all know about the penis lawsuit. The PMRC shit their collective khakis over the “Frankenchrist” album art. But did you know that the band was later sued again over the dick poster, this time by Tipper Gore alone. Apparently she eventually grew quite fond of the boner cavalcade after many a late night studying it over and over again at PMRC headquarters, and decided to sue the band again for, as it states in the court transcript, “opening [her] eyes to a bright and frightening world of sexual possibilities [she] never would have known otherwise.” In this context, it really adds new meaning to the lyric “invasion of the beef patrol.”
Play it again: “M.T.V. – Get of the Air”
Skip it: “Goons of Hazard”
2. Plastic Surgery Disasters (1982)
This runner-up of a record saw the band gettin dragged to court by the Peace Corps of all fucking things. This was because at the time recently passed legislation required all publicly distributed images of horrific global conflicts, famine and humanitarian disasters were required by law to be accompanied by an official Peace Corps “But We Tried” sticker. It’s unclear whether the band did not include this sticker as a protest or if someone at Alternative Tentacles just kinda forgot to throw it on there.
Play it again: “Moon Over Marin”
Skip it: “Winnebago Warrior”
1. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980)
“Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables” has all of DK’s best stuff. “Kill the Poor,” “Let’s Lynch the Landlord,” “California uber Alles,” fucking “Holiday In Cambodia” – it’s all there. What’s also there is the class action suit that was filed by Chiquita for defamation. The banana juggernaut claimed the band was slandering the quality of their produce “gratuitously and consistently.” Frankly we have no idea where they got that impression, but still, a judge found in favor of Chiquita and forced the band to pay out $479 million dollars for hurting the multi-billion dollar corporation’s feelings.
Play it again: “Kill the Poor”
Skip it: “Funland at the Beach”