Dead Kennedys/Redskins

This was one hell of a gig. Dead Kennedys had a kick and sense of humour that punk had lost, and the Redskins were bringing some soulful fire to a despondent Britain. The excitement leading up to this gig was for this little skinhead (then) intense. The venue was packed and both bands had plenty to say, and the tunes to say it with.
It’s a shame the NME got Miss Prissy to review the gig. The reviewer went on to join dire punk band Brigandage.
This is from 11 December, 1982.

Succumb To The Beat Attack!

Dead Kennedys

Ace Cinema, Brixton

First onto the soapbox are The Redskins who are the meekest bunch of skinheads I’ve seen for a long time, although still macho enough to put me off, and inherit the earth they shall not. It’s a close thing though ’cause their music is an exciting and joyous form of rock/pop that has the crowd bouncing along throughout the set.
Their sound is an extremely well crafted concoction of The Jam, The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers – if you’re a traditionalist and you like tunes then this lot will be enough to make you purr. Everything is fine until leader X. Moore opens his mouth and begins his tough guy socialist tirades. “Kick over the statues” he raves, presumably so that he can replace them with other, ultimately similar, icons.
What The Redskins want to do for architecture, the Dead Kennedys do for your mind. They go for the throat of the power that is behind the statues, cutting across socialist dogma with pure, visionary common sense. X. Moore wants to be a politician, Jello Biafra is content to be a true man of the people, but of a people who think for themselves. This is his and the Kennedy’s basic message: think!
And, unlike all other punk groups, when Jello has something to say then you can hear him say it. The music comes right down, and over a bass backing Biafra will spout his piece. As dubious and dull as this sounds, it actually comes across very well – the man is a born orator and his from-the-heart pleas are very effective. He is a powerful and likeable figure, it’s just a shame that everything he said tonight will be taken as gospel by some of the audience because, as he says. “think for yourselves!”
The Dead Kennedys are an all-round experience. They are lucky enough to have an extraordinary lead singer with an equally special feel in their music to back him up. Only superficially could their noise be compared to the Oi/HM thing – it has a powerful, searing quality that transcends such slurs. Whereas HM/Oi hits you in the guts (making you feel sick), this music affects the head and heart. it’s a mighty and provocative nois that, when mixed with Biafra’s words, is capable of sweeping you away. The Kennedys came, saw and left people feeling happier and hopefully more suss than before.

Richard North



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