Dead Kennedys continue 40th Anniversary celebration with ‘DK40’ limited edition vinyl box set

Dead Kennedys press photo
Photo: Edward Colver

In April, Los Angeles based Manifesto Records released ‘DK40,’ a three-CD set capturing the classic San Francisco punk band live in its prime. Now, on November 15, they will release ‘DK40’ on vinyl. 

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., Blondie and the Ramones from New York, X, the Germs and Black Flag from Los Angeles, and from San Francisco, the Dead Kennedys.  The latter act embodied the spirit of punk from the get-go. Its very name was an extended middle finger at Camelot and 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 four-LP live collection, offers the aural evidence that the Dead Kennedys were one of the most potent punk bands. 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 Raymond Pepperell’s ad in The Recycler attracted the attention of singer Eric Boucher, the pair rechristened themselves East Bay Ray and Jello Biafra. They were joined by bassist Geoffrey Lyall, better known as Klaus Flouride; rhythm guitarist Carlos Cadona, who called himself 6025, and Bruce Slesinger, known simply as Ted, on drums. 

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 Alternative Tentacles label, within a year of their formation. Over a stop-start 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 the follow-up, 1980’s Holiday in Cambodia, the Dead Kennedys showed no signs of letting up. It offered a brutal take on the powers behind the Vietnam War, with Biafra snarling the razor-sharp lyrics, “It’s a holiday in Cambodia / It’s tough kid but it’s life / It’s a holiday in Cambodia / Don’t forget to pack a wife.” 

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 a 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’. Album 1 captures the Dead Kennedys 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 album has the band 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 album of ‘DK 40,’ a double album, 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 weathered on following lineup changes, including the departure of Jello Biafra — who was initially replaced by Courtship of Eddie’s Father actor Brandon Cruz — ‘DK40′ captures the band at the height of its powers, with the classic lineup of Jello, East Bay Ray, Klaus Flouride and longtime drummer D.H Peligro.  

Dead Kennedys DK40 cover artwork


Paradiso, Amsterdam (December 5, 1982)
 Side 1:
1. Moral Majority
2. I Am The Owl
3. Life Sentence
4. Police Truck
5. Riot
6. Bleed For Me

Side 2:
7. Holiday in Cambodia
8. Let’s Lynch the Landlord
9. Chemical Warfare
10. Nazi Punks Fuck Off
11. Kill The Poor
12. We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now
13. Too Drunk To Fuck 

Alabama Halle, Munich (December 13, 1982)
Side 1:
1. Skateboard Talk+Intro Noise
2. Man With The Dogs
3. Forward to Death
4. Kepone Factory
5. Life Sentence
6. Trust Your Mechanic
7, Moral Majority
8. Forest Fire
9. Winnebago Warrior
10. Police Truck
11. Bleed For Me
Side 2:
12. Holiday In Cambodia
13. Let’s Lynch the Landord
14. Chemical Warfare
15. Nazi Punks
16. We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now
17. Too Drunk to Fuck
18. Kill the Poor 

The Farm, San Francisco (May 24, 1985):
Side 1:
1. D.H. Peligro’s Mom
2. Goons of Hazard
3. Hellnation
4. This Could Be Anywhere

Side 2:
5. Soup Is Good Food
6. Chemical Warfare
7. Macho Insecurity
8. A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch
9. Forest Fire
10. Moon Over Marin
11. Jack-O-Rama12. Encore 
13. Stars and Stripes of Corruption
14. Second Encore
15. MTV Get Off the Air
16. Holiday In Cambodia 

The four-LP set contains three often bootlegged, never released, legendary shows. The tapes have been digitally remastered for vinyl, providing highest sound quality and the set comes in high quality box with amazing artwork.

Pre-order the vinyl or right now pick up the previously available as three-CD set (if that’s your thing) and on digital platforms