REWIND DVD REVIEW: DEAD KENNEDYS – IN GOD WE TRUST, INC. – THE LOST TAPES

The In God We Trust, Inc.- The Lost Tapes DVD has to be the ultimate wet dream for the hardcore Dead Kennedys fan. On June 19th 1981 the legendary punk band recorded the In God We Trust, Inc. EP at Subterranean studios but a defective tape meant those sessions could not be used in the final mixing process (because it deteriorated on playback). Instead, they had to go re-record things two months later at Mobius studios and the sound from the original session hadn’t seen the light of day until now. Five songs have been rescued and remastered and packaged with some live footage (that the hardcore fans would’ve no doubt already bootlegged).

What follows is just under an hours worth of gritty, up close and personal footage at the studio where you can almost smell the blood, sweat, cigarettes and alcohol (not to mention the odd smells from the sticky carpet). There are some mistakes and false starts, some between-song banter and a no-bullshit, lay ‘em down quick and dirty approach. The numbers are often belted out with a Ramones-like, breakneck speed with absolutely minimal faffing about with tuning or sound levels. It’s just four blokes playing together live in a room and getting on with it!

The candid studio experience certainly ain’t a new thing and given the age of this particular footage, the visuals have actually come up rather nicely. The studio itself really does live up to its “Subterranean” name because even the viewer can gauge the tiny size, oppressive heat (with singer, Jello Biafra often shirtless) and mangy carpet.

The five rescued songs are: “Religious Vomit,” “Rawhide,” “Hyperactive Child,” “We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now” and “Nazi Punks F**k Off”. There are also live versions of the aforementioned and some other songs taken from American shows that took place between 1979 and 1986. These see the band at varying points wearing tape over their lips, donning ridiculous hats and Biafra sprayed with beer by fervent fans. The overarching theme however, is of four angry young men with opinions and above all, profound political messages.

The Dead Kennedys had styled their music on the Ramones and Sex Pistols (even going so far as to want to be America’s answer to the latter Britons). They played their own incredibly fast, hardcore music full of brute force, volume and fury like multiple kicks in the teeth. For the trainspotter fans, there is a live version of “Kepone Factory” with different lyrics to the recorded offering and “We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now” makes two appearances. One is a much jazzier kind to the vicious sneer of the recorded output.

If there’s any fault to be had with the collection it’s that it’s too short and could’ve been combined with the accompanying The Early Years release. But then we should note that these ARE punk songs and not Led Zeppelin epics. Also, the animated titles introducing the tracks are both jarring and stupid. They’re very contemporary and similar to NOFX’s “Franco Un-American” clip and don’t really fit with the feeling of the raw live and studio footage; although I realise I’m being rather pedantic.

In God We Trust, Inc. is best summed up by radio DJ and music critic Anthony Bonet who introduces the feature and described it as: “Four young men channeling their punk influences with such exuberance and self-confidence that they come up with something distinctly their own”. It may have been a 30-year wait but it’s one that was certainly worth it…

Originally published on 4 May 2011 at the following website: http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/reviews/music/28386/Dead-Kennedys–In-God-We-Trust-Inc-The-Lost-Tapes

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