The strongly political album opens with Kill The Poor; Jello Biafra shouting over the loud crash of cymbals and strike of guitar strings. The track is fast and angry, with surf riffs reminiscent of the Ramones. It makes a bold statement about the upper-classes, the bourgeoisie, and the idea that they should “kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor” to get rid of the crime rates and give themselves more room to play. It’s about a dream bomb that would destroy the welfare tax, the jobless millions, and the slums. It’s a track that seems timelessly relevant.
The next track, Forward To Death, is a typical punk song; a big loud “FUCK YOU” in the faces of everyone. The idea that someone is looking forward to death is pretty sad, but this was hardcore punk. Instead of making the song all whiny and gloomy like, say, My Chemical Romance, Biafra makes it angry and fast. This was a time when the world made people angry instead of depressed, and this is something that is missing in a lot of today’s music.
When Ya Get Drafted has a great little opening riff, and the lyrics are pretty simple. They are all about how indoctrinated people were (are) into believing that Communism is the biggest evil of them all. The track even talks about how the journalists “fan the fires of racist hatred”. This was a time when crime rates were dropping, yet television coverage was increasing, as well as fear of anyone who wasn’t white. The track ends with a great verse about laziness. During the 60s and early 70s people were protesting the wars in Vietnam, but “kids today sit on there asses, just a six-pack, and you’re happy”. People just distract themselves from the government’s wrong doings, and this is more important today than ever.
Let’s Lynch The Landlord opens with some happy crunchy chords with a brilliant surfing bass line. There’s a short guitar solo that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Jefferson Airplane album. The lyrics are all about lynching your landlord, something that many of us would probably love to do, and a brilliant example of how any authority figures piss these guys off. This is a great punk anthem.
Drug Me has some of the fastest vocals I think I’ve heard on a punk track, and it works greatly. The lyrical content is something truly punk; the idea that modern society is addicted to crosswords and television.
Your Emotions follows on with this theme, except it is all about how kids just copy anything they find amusing, and how they just learn emotions.
California Uber Alles is an allusion to the National Anthem of Germany, “Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles.” (Germany, Germany above all). This was the bands first single, and probably one of their most famous songs. Sang from the point of view of the Governor of California, the track gives us a fascist point of view towards America, and discusses hippie culture and Nazism.
I Kill Children is a less political song, but it is still satirical. Jello Biafra wrote the lyrics from the point of view of a serial killer, and the words leave very little to the imagination. Perhaps the track could be an example of how we are desensitised to violence in a modern society.
Funland At The Beach continues the theme of dead children, but it also paint a picture of a roller coaster accident. It’s a real anarchist track, the lyrics sound happy to see such a tragedy occurring at a place, but then again, it is a place where people should be happy, even if they have been made into “human hamburgers”.
Holiday In Cambodia is probably the band’s most famous track (thanks to Guitar Hero). The first half of the track seems to be about how middle class people jump on the bandwagon to bring relief to places such as Cambodia, but if they ever took an actual holiday there, they would piss themselves. The second half seems more about how Biafra thinks that the upper classes would benefit from being in one of the hard dictatorships in one of these run-down countries. The song seems to still be eerily relevant.
The album ends with a cover of Viva Las Vegas. Pretty fitting. This is one of the only true punk albums that I believe has ever been released. It is angry, political, and clever. It can be easy to sign off punks as a bunch of meat-heads who like getting pissed and hitting each other, but when you consider the lyrical content of this album, it seems to me that may be the only subculture with their heads screwed on. This album is good not only because of its content, but because of what it represents. This was punk when punk was needed, and I think it might be needed again.