Dead Kennedys - Live at the Deaf Club (Cover Artwork)

Dead Kennedys

Dead Kennedys: Live at the Deaf ClubLive at the Deaf Club (2004)

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: maverickScott
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Pretend for a moment that none of the stranger-than-fiction legal situations surrounding the members of the Dead Kennedys ever existed. Imagine that the lawsuits never happened. That the constant mudslinging never happened. That the rumored Levi's commercial offer never happened. That the ongoin.
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Pretend for a moment that none of the stranger-than-fiction legal situations surrounding the members of the Dead Kennedys ever existed. Imagine that the lawsuits never happened. That the constant mudslinging never happened. That the rumored Levi's commercial offer never happened. That the ongoing reunion with different singers never happened. What you would be left with is one of the most important poltiical punk/hardcore bands since the terms "punk" and "hardcore" were used to describe this kind of music. Their music would not be tainted with the taste of dollar bills, nor would you feel guilty about wishing for a reunion.

So in the spirit of this fantasy you're currently indulged in, imagine that a live album comes out documenting this band at their earliest moments. You're told that the album will contain a previously unreleased track called "Gaslight," an early version of "When You Get Drafted" called "Back In Rhodesia," a disco[!] version of "Kill The Poor," and three cover songs, among others. You get pretty excited, as you're a big fan of the band's early work. Then you find out that the recording is taken from the band's last performance as a 5-piece, with 6025 on guitar and Ted on drums. The existence of a recording being well-enough preserved over 2 decades to warrant an official live release is rare enough in itself, which was a concern of mine as I put the CD in.

Luckily, all my worries were washed away, as Live at the Deaf Club sounds surprisingly strong and clean for a 25-year old recording. Jello Biafra's yelps are powerful and vibrant, and his little bits of between-song-banter are as vintage as one could ask for. All the instruments are easily distinguishable in the recording, even the bass [which for whatever reason always seems to be the toughest thing to capture to tape]. East Bay Ray's reverb-heavy surf guitar licks in "Man With The Dogs" and "Holiday In Cambodia" are spot on, showing that even in a show presumably as frantic and crazy as this one, the band still took pride in their musicianship.

The previously unreleased song, "Gaslight," seems to have stayed unreleased for a reason. It is a bit of a throwaway, with an unusual dual guitar instrumental break that doesn't seem to work at all. One of the few missteps of the band's career, and everyone gets a mulligan. The repeated chorus of "Dying with a lampshade on" isn't half bad, though, and this definitely showed promise that would later develop in future albums. The disco version of "Kill The Poor" is hilariously solid, and makes for an energetic opening to the disc.

The band ends their performance with a blazing rendition of "Forward To Death" before being beckoned back to the stage for an encore. Strangely, the then-quintet chose to play a trio of covers - The Honeycombs' "Have I The Right," The Beatles' "Back In The USSR," and the DK cover classic "Viva Las Vegas." When you think of the Dead Kennedys, you tend to think of their sarcastic wit and not their "fun" side, but they seem to genuinely be enjoying bashing these cover songs out like every young band does at one point.

As a longtime fan of the band, it is nice to have a collection of the band's early material all from one live show. Rarities such as "Ill In The Head" and "Forward To Death," as well as tracks like "Short Songs" and "Straight A's" that never got a proper release until Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death are all gathered here along with the band's early classics. It's tough to forget all the drama of the past handful of years, but if you can overlook it, you'll be rewarded as a fan with a strong documentation of one of the best punk bands America's ever experienced realizing their own importance in front of a crowd of a few hundred.

Gaslight [clip]


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
coathangerkid (January 21, 2008)

Ha!! This is crap!! There is nothing at all here that is worth the purchase. The only cool thing is the disco version of "Kill The Poor" which is actually REALLY good. This set was recorded before FFFRV was released and it shows. Every song pales in contrast to the later studio versions. And as for all the 'hype' about the unreleased song "Gaslight".... there was a reason it went unheard: because it fucking stinks!!! It sounds unfinished and chaotic. A strong chorus catch phrase does not make a good song. The cover songs at sets end are also pointless and boring... This cd sucks. 'First Mutiny On The Bay' (which was pretty atrocious 'live' album... don't tell me those were the best versions of songs they could find for that turd, that's pathetic), then this... Come on Biafra-less Dead Kennedys... stop living in the past. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see these guys are only out for the bucks. Especialy with their new Milking The Sacred Cow 'best of'. This release would NOT make a fan out of the band. Why not a "new" live album with their newest replacement (i won't say scab) singer? Play all the old shitty, forgotten tunes you dropped, rock out your best karaoke versions of your 'greatest hits' and give us a real treat to hold in our hands. Better yet, instead of rehashing the past, why not put out a NEW album, with NEW songs. I triple dog dare ya!!! See if Biafra was really as unimportant to the fans and band as you seem to imply in interviews. If he was, why this crap rehash? The only good points about this are the very clean sound and Ted's killer drumming on "Ill In The Head". Oh and nice booklet of "new DK art". Not!!! Pathetic... another half hearted attempt at cashing in on past laurels with no fucking clue. I admit it, you got me again you bastards!!! Forked out another dime on you snake oil salesman. And like true snake oil, the promises where in the packaging. Stay Away!!!

JohnnyTwoTits (August 30, 2006)

this album is wair its at...

deathbyguitar (June 13, 2006)

steal or burn or illegally download this shit. don't give your money to the "dead kennedys"

Anonymous (January 17, 2006)

Boycott those corporate whores who stole Jello's songs and are masquerading as the Dead Kennedys.

Anonymous (June 30, 2005)

Isn't this the same as Can you hear me? music from the deaf club, that was released years ago?...

Anonymous (June 1, 2004)

Pretend for a moment
you ARE the quarry!

stranger than fiction! right o

Anonymous (May 29, 2004)

i'm sure i'd love this album, but there's no way in hell i'm supporting the DK members that sued jello

BSD (May 28, 2004)

His voice isn't annoying. Just because it isn't your "graaawr" hardcore vox of 95 doesn't mean it sucks. In fact, it's much better.

Anonymous (May 28, 2004)

Who the hell cares where you buy your DK albums. Buy it. And listen to it for all its worth. Jello may have an annoying voice but at least he is speaking out against what is/was wrong and unjust in our society, unlike many other singers/songwriters that shall not be mentioned.

Chips (May 27, 2004)

Hey guys, ever think that maybe this is being shipped to big box stores like those because DUURR it sells well? It's not like DK is some small indie band. They have hundreds of thousands of fans across North America.

CrookedSuperhero (May 27, 2004)

Dead Kennedys are awful, no one should like them. Jello has the worst voice i've ever heard. Actually, one of the worst voices. There is worse.

crizack (May 27, 2004)

jello's my daddy...he told me not to listen to this album...

Anonymous (May 27, 2004)

don't support these fucks, and don't buy this.

Anonymous (May 26, 2004)

theres always room for jello

lushj (May 26, 2004)

I think this review from Vice says it best:

Dead Kennedys ā??Live At The Deaf Clubā? (Manifesto) rating=2/10
If you listen closely to these rare and unreleased recordings, you can hear East Bay Ray desperately trying to milk a cow thatā??s been dead longer than Iā??ve been alive. Iā??m actually embarassed for him, and thatā??s pretty sad since Iā??m just a 13-year-old punk kid. - 13-Year-Old Punk Kid

Anonymous (May 26, 2004)

i hate the Dead kennedys

Anonymous (May 26, 2004)

You know who loves to hear Jello speak more than anyone? Jello.

Anonymous (May 26, 2004)

i'm with jello. the rest of those douchebags wanted to put dk songs in commercials for fuck sakes. they sold their integrity for $$$. and if jello is cashing the checks good for him, he's got legal fees up the wazzoo and a REAL indie label to run.

jheisel (May 26, 2004)

For what it's worth, that check page just shows that the wrote him checks, not that he cashed them.

TheOneTrueBill (May 26, 2004)

You guys do realize that he's still paying off all the money that the ex-DKs took from him? It's not like he's raking in the dough when he's that far in debt.

TheNightProwler (May 26, 2004)

Well I think you missed the most important parts in that link... What you didn't copy & paste was...
"Manifesto is distributed by the Navarre Corporation in the U.S. and Canada, Pinnacle Entertainment in the U.K. and southern Europe, and EFA in Germany and northern Europe."
This explains how they get DK CD's into Best Buy's & Sam Goody's...

You also missed...
"Manifesto is, has been, and always will be, fiercely independent. Manifesto Records is based in Los Angeles, and is run by Evan Cohen."
That shows that there are no major label ties, unless you think that Manifesto are telling flat out lies on their official web site.

Anonymous (May 26, 2004)

for those too lazy to click the link:

Manifesto Records is the successor to a long line of labels, going back to 1968. Our label began as Bizarre Records (and its companion label, Straight Records) in 1968, as a partnership between rock manager Herb Cohen and Frank Zappa. Over the next several years, Bizarre signed artists such as Alice Cooper, Tim Buckley, Captain Beefheart, Ted Nugent, Wild Man Fischer, The GTOs, Ruben & The Jets, and others. Later, a third label, Discreet, was added, and the labels released albums until 1975, mainly through Warner Bros. Records distribution.

After Cohen and Zappa went their separate ways in 1977, Bizarre entered an era of relative inactivity. Then, in 1988, Bizarre/Straight, as it was then called, entered into a distribution arrangement with Enigma Records, which released albums by Tim Buckley (including the never-before-heard "Dream Letter: Live In London 1968"), Alice Cooper, The GTOs, Lord Buckley, The Persusions, Captain Beefheart, and others.

However, after having released far too many albums by Stryper and Hurricaine, Enigma went out of business in late 1990. Distribution of Bizarre/Straight then went to Rhino in 1991, which, in addition to all of the albums that were out through Enigma, also released the rare set of recordings by Tom Waits, "The Early Years," as well as two more live albums by Tim Buckley, "Live at the Troubadour" and "Honey Man," and the first new recordings by Screamin' Jay Hawkins in years.

In 1993, Bizarre/Straight began another label, Bizarre/Planet, which began to release new albums in early 1994. This time, the focus of attention was on the San Diego scene, and albums were recorded and released by local heroes The Rugburns, bluesman Earl Thomas, jump-blues guy Buddy Blue (after he left The Beat Farmers), and songwriters Gregory Page and Joy Eden Harrison. The Rugburns went on to national attention, with the band eventually signing first to Priority Records and then, in early 1997, to Mercury Records. The Rugburns also opened a national tour for Jewel, and Steve Poltz of The Rugburns co-wrote the Jewel's megahit "You Were Meant for Me."

Also in 1994, Bizarre/Planet entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with BMG for three albums by The Wedding Present, "Hit Parade 1," "Hit Parade 2," and the album voted many times as the favorite album of Wedding Present fans, "Seamonsters."

In 1995, Manifesto Records began. The first release of new material on Manifesto was the album "Step Right Up: The Songs of Tom Waits," which included recordings by 10,000 Maniacs, Alex Chilton, The Wedding Present, The Violent Femmes, Drugstore, Tindersticks, Archers of Loaf, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, and others. The album received critical acclaim as "Tribute Album of the Year" for 1995 in Tower's Pulse! Magazine.

Other albums released by Manifesto include the rare "Bizarro" by The Wedding Present (the out-of-print "American" version with the four extra tracks). In March, 1999, Manifesto released a 33-song, two-CD set of all of the singles released by The Wedding Present from 1989 to 1991, including rare tracks only released previously on vinyl, as well as the exquisite "Crawl." Also included are nine live tracks from a show in Leeds in 1990.

2000 was a busy year for Manifesto. We released New Coat of Paint, which is a new tribute album to the songs of Tom Waits, and which included great performances by Neko Case, Lydia Lunch, and others. We released an album of recordings by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, which includes unreleased material from 1990-1994. We released a tribute album to Tim Buckley. We released the second album by Cinerama, fronted by David Gedge of The Wedding Present, and which was recorded by Steve Albini in Chicago in March 2000.

RondoMondo (May 25, 2004)

DK would've gone down as the greatest punk band if it wasn't for all the recent controversy and the "reunion" tour.

TheNightProwler (May 25, 2004)

BSD, If you want some information on Manifesto Records then you should do some simple internet research like looking at their web site.


If you look for answers then you can find them...

TheNightProwler (May 25, 2004)

Well I'm thinking that the reason why they are able get all the DK CD's in the major music stores is because the CD's actually SELL!

BSD (May 25, 2004)

Then how the hell does it get literally thousands of copies of DK CD's sent to huge music stores?

Anonymous (May 25, 2004)

I read a comment from East Bay Ray (so it might not be that reliable on the situation) that said that Manifesto wasn't connected to any major. Any way all of the members of the Dead Kennedys are making ass holes out of themselves lately, including Jello.

BSD (May 25, 2004)

I know DK stuff is available in Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, and Borders and they aren't connected to Epitaph, so how did they get such good distro?

maverick (May 25, 2004)

Is Manifesto a major label? I thought they were indie as well, I couldn't find a link to any of the big 5.


ThreeChordsAndTheTruth (May 25, 2004)

I might pick this up, I had originally thought this would suck thanks to Jello's comments, but reading this suggests otherwise.

BSD (May 25, 2004)

That is interesting, actually. He bitches, but takes the money. He probably wants MORE money.

But what about the label? I'm just kind of against the thought of suits making money off of DK. No doubt, AT isn't clean, it's a standard Indie label. It'll rip you off, too, but at least you know they do it to survive, and they aren't feeding money to the Bush administration, like most majors.

maverick (May 25, 2004)


I said the same thing at first, but then I found this on deadkennedys.com. Jello can complain all he wants, but he's still cashing royalty checks. I just did the math, and since 2001 he's made at least $91,187.95. Since September of 2003, he's pulled in close to 70 grand. I've been a Jello supporter for a long time, but it's tough to argue with stuff like that. The dude's getting P-A-I-D.


BSD (May 25, 2004)

would be great if slimeballs weren't making money from it.

Anonymous (May 25, 2004)

overrated pretentious bullshit.

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