What I’ve Been Reading: Dead Kennedy’s Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, by Michael Stewart Foley

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fresh fruit for rotting vegetablesThe Dead Kennedys make a huge amount more sense to me after reading this installment of the always-fascinating 33 1/3 series of monographs on important or interesting albums.

Here, Foley takes a historical approach to the band’s debut album, detailing the politics of the country, California, and San Francisco in the late ’70s that gave rise to the band and album. With that knowledge, an album I already liked a lot is transformed into a fascinating, angry, accessible, and funny work (and to think, Jello Biafra was barely 20 years old when it came out).

The book felt a bit odd, though, in that it ended somewhat abruptly. In all of the discussion of the historical and political millieu, there was less focus on the music than I’d expected. It’s in there, but the history really takes center stage here. I would have liked some more focus on the album, but treating this as straight cultural history instead of a music book is the kind of approach that makes the 33 1/3 series so varied and vital.

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