Ranked: Dead Kennedys Albums Ranked From Worst To Best

Dead Kennedys Albums Ranked From Worst To Best

Let’s get things straight at the beginning of this article. Dead Kennedys have no bad albums at all. Each full-length is good on its terms, but of course, some are better than others. After putting that aside, let’s dive straight into ranking releases by this crucial San Francisco hardcore punk band.

Dead Kennedys - Frankenchrist


I have been wondering for years what happened to Dead Kennedys while working on this album. Somehow it differed from their previous releases and the band went in some weird direction. After releasing classics such as Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, Plastic Surgery Disasters, and In God We Trust, Inc, every loyal fan would expect a natural progression of the band, but Dead Kennedys failed with this album pretty bad. Luckily, there were a couple of good songs, and Jello Biafra’s lyricism made up for the lack of decent music.

Favorite tracks: Hellnation, This Could Be Anywhere, Chicken Farm, Goons Of Hazard, and MTV Get Off The Air

Dead Kennedys - In God We Trust, Inc.


You might be wondering what’s an EP release doing here? Although this counts as an EP release, it’s technically a mini-album because it contains eight tracks, and it certainly deserves on this list. Originally pressed as a 12″ record and later on included as a companion to the B side of Plastic Surgery Disasters, In God Trust, Inc. has six rock-solid hardcore punk tracks. The funny thing is, you can’t pick the best one because they all sound amazing. The band also included an alternate version of California Uber Alles and Rawhide theme song on this excellent 12″ EP, which come like a cherry on the top. This mini-album proved that Dead Kennedys could pair faster hardcore punk bands at the time without losing their widely recognizable sound.

Favorite tracks: Religious Vomit, Moral Majority, Kepone Factory, Dog Bite, and Nazi Punks Fuck Off

Dead Kennedys - Plastic Surgery Disasters


Dead Kennedys set the bar high with Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, but I think they also nailed it with Plastic Surgery Disasters. The band introduced more brilliant ideas in terms of arrangements, song structures, accentuations, and other things that define good albums, so Plastic Surgery Disasters sounded more sonically advanced than its predecessor. But after all that, it wasn’t good enough to surpass the brilliance of Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables. Still, it ended up on the well-deserved third position thanks to a high percentage of excellent songs. 

Favorite tracks: Government Flu, Trust Your Mechanic, Well Paid Scientist, Buzzbomb, Forest Fire, Halloween, Winnebago Warrior, Riot, Bleed For Me, and Moon Over Marin

Dead Kennedys - Bedtime For Democracy


The fact Bedtime For Democracy emerged after the least favorite Frankenchrist places it in the second place on our list. Dead Kennedys finally nailed in by combining their original sound with hardcore punk aesthetics. The band also speeded up songs a little bit more to fit the remainder of the mid-eighties hardcore scene. Jello Biafra’s criticism over every impossible thing that pissed him off at the moment also gave Bedtime For Democracy a whole new shape compared to the preceding albums. Not to forget the iconic cover artwork that vividly illustrated the state of the US policy in the mid-eighties. This album is all around one of the sonically/visually best works Dead Kennedys ever done. 

Favorite tracks: Take This Job And Shove It, Hope With The Jet Set, Dear Abby, Rambozo The Clown, Fleshdunce, The Great Wall, Shrink, Triumph Of Swill, Macho Insecurity, I Spy, Cesspools In Eden, One Way Ticket To Pluto, Do The Slag, Gone With My Wind, When You Draw The Line, and Lie Detector

Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fuit For Rotting Vegetables


Perhaps Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables doesn’t have a perfect sound, but the fact this album isn’t sonically pleasing due to high-pitched/overly distorted chord progressions and Jello’s irritating singing technics adds up to the overall listening experience. Somehow every song resonates with sheer aggression, dynamics, and energy. Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables is a flawless punk rock album that could singlehandedly surpass albums by much greater bands at the time, and even some punk rock classics popping up every single time as special deals on Record Store Day. Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables came out just in time when the scene needed a political punk rock band who knows how to articulate its thoughts, and this album skyrocketed Dead Kennedys to fame they still maintain today.

Favorite tracks: Kill The Poor, Forward To Death, When You Get Drafted, Let’s Lynch The Landlord, Drug Me, Your Emotions, Chemical Warfare, California Uber Alles, Stealing People’s Mail, Funland At The Beach, Ill In The Head, and Holiday In Cambodia

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