Friday, April 9, 2010

Cult Faves = No Radio (1)

I listen to all kinds of music, because I like all kinds of music (except country pop and Top 40). Not necessarily just the chart toppers, but the various album/c.d. cuts that most people consider throwaways and thus the only way of listening to them on the radio, is via the colleges (satellite/digital and the assorted self serve internet stations don't really enter into the equation).

Buried deep within that mix of chart toppers and album/c.d. cuts that are geared towards the commercial and college stations, are songs that I consider to be cult faves. In other words, songs that resonate in such a way that you can actually understand the meanings and intent behind them, which is turn sometimes makes them virtually unplayable on the radio.

Sometimes a particular song from a well known artist can fall into that category, sometimes a well know song from an unknown artist can fall into this category. And sometimes, an entire artist/group can fall into that category as well.

What will be following over the course of a week or two (depending on my mood) is a subjective list of what I consider to cult faves that get either zippo or very limited airplay, be they songs or be they groups. The first one on our subjective list is:

The Dead Kennedys

The D.K.'s were considered to be in the forefront of censorship issues in the late 70's/early 80's California punk scene. Led by Jello Biafra, their music was consider at various times, provocative, inflammatory, toxic and extremely political. Even though all of their music was highly listenable, only about 1% was actually suitable for airplay. What I mean by suitable, is that the language wasn't peppered with select adjectives.

Off the top of my head, I can give five examples of their songs, which containing highly offensive political content, met the minimum criteria of clean language.

Their cover of "Rawhide" (which can be found on the EP "In God We

Their remake of the song "California Uber Alles", featuring the 80's
political king Ronald Reagan, as opposed to the 70's political king Jerry Brown
(also can be found on "In God We Trust").

"Kepone Factory", a song about mercury poisoning in Japan (again, can be
found on "In God We Trust")

"Holiday In Cambodia", a song about Pol Pot (can be found on their
excellent compilation "Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death")

And finally, the only song of theirs that I've heard on college radio and in fact,
got me hooked on them to begin with, their cover of "I Fought The Law" featuring
the 1978 assassination of Harvey Milk and George Moscone by Dan White.


  1. You know I love college radio, so I am very familiar with The Dead Kennedys. Holiday in Cambodia is a great song.

  2. I've never heard their music, though I have heard of them. I know "I Fought The Law". Fun song!

    My husband shares this sensibility about music. He has a lot of obscure songs on his proverbial "iPod list". :-) I say more power to him.

  3. I want to put a compilation cd out of one hit wonder b sides. Many times there are better songs on their album than the one that became famous.

  4. I'm really not very familiar with them. I remmeber the name but probably couldn't tell you an actual song of theirs.

  5. I love the title, G. It's true - some of the best music never gets air time.

    Someone once said, "music is just background noise in my life". I just laughed. For me, music is the backdrop of my life!

  6. I've been meaning to do a music post, so you just inspired me. Merci!

  7. Lynn: It's funny, but some of their stuff is highly acerbic and great to sing along with.

    Even though I may not agree with some of Jello Biafra's politics, the D.K.'s do have some very good music.

    Jewel: Cool. I always go for the obscure stuff because some of it is just so on the money that it really can make people question your sanity.

    Their version of "I Fought The Law" is so devastatingly funny that it should be made into a theme song for our judicial system.

    Bearman: Oh absolutely. I've found some great B sides buried in both in the 45's and the albums/c.d.'s over the many years that often those have made it to my home recordings instead of the A-sides.

    Charles: Most people don't know of the Dead Kennedy's unless they followed the punk music scene of the late 70's/early 80's. I didn't really know of them until the 80's when I was reading about them in various music reference books.

    I do know that Jello Biafra has moved on to spoken word stuff, so possibly that might be one way to explore them. YouTube would be another.

    Talon: Music is very much the solid background/backdrop of my life as well. Some types have given birth to some fantastic story ideas, and others have opened my mind up to great exploration.

    Punk and Heavy Metal are two such genres that have moved me enough to explore other sub-types within.

    R.K.: Glad I could inspire you. I know some great music has come out from your neck of the woods, and I'm not talking about Nirvana or Pearl Jam either.

    Good luck with it.

  8. I've heard talk of the DK's every now and then, but haven't heard their music. I heard a song the other day which rarely gets airplay, Lou Reed's Intro/Sweet Jane. It's not as obscure as the ones you mention, but it was good to hear it.

  9. Joanne: Usually the only song you might hear by them is the aforementioned "I Fought The Law" on college radio.

    I think the only way most people hear about them is if they happen to be watching a program/reading a book about punk music.

    I can now listen to "Intro/Sweet Jane" without gagging, simply because I stopped listening to classic rock. I agree, it's a good song, but when you hear it overkilled on the radio, you have a tendency to shy away.

    Nurse Myra: Welcome back!

    Yes, the Dead Kennedys are cool indeed. They're one of the few political punk bands that I don't mind listening to on a regular basis.

  10. Thanks for helping me remember their Rawhide version! I'd forgotten all about them, it's been so long-
    Haven't listened to any radio in agaes- since it was shut off at work 2 years ago.

  11. Woah...that kind of sucks. I sometimes don't listen to the radio, but that's by choice.

    Unfortunately, if I play the D.K.'s at work, I would be in deep doggy doo-doo.

  12. I haven't listened to them specifically though now you list them I have heard and liked some of these songs. The only song I remember as being a Dead Kennedys song is "too drunk to f--k" - lol

  13. MCL: That's actually quite a funny song. No way it would be played on the radio, but it's got a really good beat to it.


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