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15 April 2012

Dead Kennedys - 'Plastic Surgery Disasters' (Alternative Tentatcles/Faulty Products)

Plastic Surgery Disasters, with it's Michael Wells cover, for some reason actually horrifies me. I'm fine with other great gross-out covers, including the original Big Black Headache, but something about this really upsets me. But the music? Well, it's underrated, at least by me. I always forget how good Plastic Surgery Disasters is, as it's overshadowed by the fresh fruit of Fresh Fruit and the cohesive controversy of Frankenchrist. Middle DKs is, well, confident. The surf-lick guitars are moving slightly more in the heavy metal direction (listen to 'Bleed for Me' if you don't believe it), and the hardcore thrash edges of the In God We Trust EP are toned down (though the production/mastering not much better). Jello's voice has never sounded more waddly-good, and the opening cut, 'Government Flu' is majestic. By this point he's mastered the ability to ratchet up the hysteria, and it saves otherwise mediocre songs like 'I am the Owl'. Some of the vitriol might be misplaced - 'Terminal Preppie' feels more like material Descendents should be covering, and 'Trust Your Mechanic'/'Well-Paid Scientist' are back-to-back assaults on expertise. I almost want to accuse Dead Kennedys of subtlety here, as 'Moon Over Marin' is more poetic than an environmentalist rant should be. It's also one of the best cuts of the DKs career, with an anthemic guitar line that belies the sarcasm everything else is rooted in. This LP is either played to death or again mastered badly, but do I really want a Dead Kennedys record to sound like a booming arena-rock masterpiece? Let the buzz and distortion wash over everything like a, well, 'Buzzbomb'.

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