Also being Jello Biafra’s last approved record of the Dead Kennedys, Give me Convenience Or Give Me Death is a roller coaster through sound and creation. The record opens with the pre-surf rock riffs of “Police Truck” where a low grumble can be closely related to something Link Wray would produce.
East Bay Ray attacks on the guitar and echoplex which “set a standard for the effect in the 1960s.” A tape delay effect that combines with the ripping power of Klaus Flouride on the bass. The strings which also feature 6025 on the rhythm guitars for later tracks are a hydra of production.
D.H. Peligro covers the drums alongside Ted, known also as Bruce Slesinger who was the first percussionist for the band. Quickly, the compilation takes shape as this multilingual and multifaceted conglomerate that somehow, finds a knowledgeable segue between tracks.
Especially from “Police Truck” to “Too Drunk To Fuck” that immediately relies on the strings to create movement. Being one of the most rambunctious tracks on Give me Convenience Or Give Me Death; “Too Drunk To Fuck” has a personal soft spot for Biafra’s narration.
He illustrates, “Went to a party, I dance all night. I drank 16 beers and I started up a fight. But now I am jaded, you’re out of luck. I’m rolling down the stairs, too drunk to fuck.” As the Dead Kennedys seem to increase their speed, the audience is left baffled and forced to do nothing but shake their body against this rhythm.
In the third verse, Biafra illustrates, “I’m about to drop, my head’s a mess. The only salvation is I’ll never see you again. You give me head, it makes it worse, take out your fuckin’ retainer, put it in your purse.”
While crude and slightly off-putting, his delivery is seemingly entirely comedic through each track even when the subject matter becomes more serious than just casual flings. Pieces like “Life Sentence” where the bombastic instrumentation carries over but the delivery completely switches.
Biafra illustrates, “You’re squelching your emotions, all you talk about is old times. You don’t do what you want to, but you do the same thing every day. No sense of humor, but such good manners, now you’re an adult. You’re boring.” While Dead Kennedys instrumentally focus and constrict to be more similar to their project, In God We Trust with blitzing performance; Biafra shouts, “It’s your life sentence, life sentence, life sentence, life sentence!”
One of the middle tracks that stands out like the sorest thumb is “Pull My Strings.” The story behind the track comes from a live performance where Dead Kennedys played at the Bay Area Music Awards. Dawning shirts with a giant “S” combined with ties to create a dollar sign, the band changes their rapid punk performances to opt instead for a “New Wave performance.” The chorus from the band describes, “Is my cock big enough, is my brain small enough for you to make me a star? Give me a toot, I’ll sell you, my soul. Pull my strings and I’ll go far.”
While satirical, Dead Kennedys give “Pull My Strings” these catchy undertones almost become a mockery of the parody they create. Somehow, as a coalition, Give me Convenience Or Give Me Death takes strides to show rarities and some of the more ambitious sides of Dead Kennedys.
Less cohesive as Plastic Surgery Disasters and not quite as rushing as In God We Trust; Give me Convenience Or Give Me Death has a track for the whole family to collective love.