In God We Trust, Inc.

Dead Kennedys

Statik / Alternative Tentacles Records, 1981

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys first hit the punk market in 1980, their declarations shocked their critics and delighted their fans. Their debut effort Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables is one listen that you won't soon forget - and as I admitted way back in January 1997, is an album I wish I had purchased earlier in my life.

So, you may ask, why wait 18 months to review their follow-up EP, In God We Trust, Inc.? After all, it is probably one of the shortest listens you will experience (eight songs in the vicinity of twelve minutes). Well, no good reason except it gets very bogged down here in the Pierce Archives (where we're eagerly awaiting the annual sale at my favorite used record store - two weeks and counting, and making lots of room), and the disc just got lost in the shuffle.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But the truth be known, In God We Trust, Inc. is a rush job that should have had some more time put into it. It's much more ferocious than Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, but it loses something in the process.

Biafra, guitarist East Bay Ray, bassist Klaus Flouride and drummer D.H. Peligro decide on this disc that speed is the key to the delivery of the messages. Unfortunately, in the process Biafra's ranting vocals are crunched to the point where if you didn't have the lyrics on the jacket, you'd have no idea what the hell he was saying. (If you're easily offended, this might not be a bad thing, especially when Biafra declares that all religions make him sick. This is not an album for the kiddies.)

Oh, there is still the irreverent social humor/commentary that made their first album so wonderful - especially notable is the track "Moral Majority," on which Biafra tells people like Ronald Reagan and Jerry Falwell to "blow it out your ass". Amen. (I do admit some ignorance here: who is "Anita" that Biafra refers to? Couldn't be Anita Hill, who didn't make headlines until well over a decade after In God We Trust, Inc. came out.)

Maybe what the Dead Kennedys picked up on this album were influences from other punk acts like Black Flag; the overall sound of the music does seem to have similar qualities like those on Black Flag's Damaged. This isn't a bad thing, but it would have been nice had Biafra put more emphasis on the vocal tracks instead of breakneck speed; he does deliver a good vocal.

Besides being far too short, In God We Trust, Inc. shows signs of possible burnout. "We've Got A Bigger Problem Now" basically reprises Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables's "California Uber Alles," despite certain parts of the song being delivered lounge-style. And the prerequisite cover - this time of "Rawhide" - just falls flat, and could have easily been left off. Truth be told, it's half-ass.

All this leaves In God We Trust, Inc. to be a less than satisfying product. (On CD, it's now being packaged with the EP Plastic Surgery Disasters, which I have yet to purchase.) While this disc still shows some of the genius of Biafra and the Dead Kennedys, it also spelled possible trouble on the horizon.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Statik / Alternative Tentacles Records, and is used for informational purposes only.