Frankenchrist is the third album by Dead Kennedys, released in 1985, and widely considered to be their best along with their debut Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. It's infamous for causing an obscenity trial over the original album cover note that the band eventually won, but nearly caused their bankruptcy.
- "Soup Is Good Food" (4:18)
- "Hellnation" (2:22)
- "This Could Be Anywhere (This Could Be Everywhere)" (5:24)
- "A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch" (5:50)
- "Chicken Farm" (5:06)
- "Jock-O-Rama (Invasion of the Beef Patrol)" (4:06)
- "Goons of Hazzard" (4:25)
- "MTV Get off the Air" (3:37)
- "At My Job" (3:41)
- "Stars and Stripes of Corruption" (6:23)
Stars And Tropes Of Corruption:
- All Hail the Great God Mickey!: In "A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch" the band wonders:
- Anti-Police Song: "Stars and Stripes of Corruption".We've got to rise above the need for cops and laws
- Banana Republic: "Stars And Stripes Of Corruption":If you want a banana republic that bad/ Why don't you go move to one?
- Belief Makes You Stupid: "Jock-O-Rama"Pep rally in the holy templeAnd you're forced to goMasturbate en masseWith the favored religious cult
- Black Comedy: Every track.
- Capitalism Is Bad: "At My Job"Thank you for your service and a long careerGlad you gave us your best years
- Come to Gawk: "Jock-O-Rama", where high school sport funding and their spectators are criticized:On the almighty football fieldBeerbellies of all agesCome to watch the gladiators bleed
- Concept Album: The entire American government and society are lamblasted.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The fired employees are "dumped (with no minister present)/ In a spiraling corkscrew dispose-all unit/ Ground into sludge and flushed away/ Aw geez."
- Cool People Rebel Against Authority: During the recordings Jello Biafra was defending artistic freedom during the PMRC hearings, alongside Frank Zappa, Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) and John Denver against censorship of songs, albums and music videos with questionable subversive content.
- Contemptible Cover: Not the cover itself, but the poster that came with it, featuring a H. R. Giger painting with the self-sodomosing penises and vulvae ◊.
- Corrupt Church: "Stars And Stripes Of Corruption"Budget's in the red?Let's tax religion
- Covers Always Lie: Sure, the Shriners parade (where the members drive around in ridiculously tiny cars) shows a ridiculous side of Eagleland. But the punk edge is hard to identify, and neither Shriners nor Masons are mentioned in the lyrics. (and yet the organization still sued)
- Crapsack World: "Hellnation" describes how nations became hellish and "This Could Be Anywhere" implies that this kind of worlds can be found anywhere, even in your town.
- Despair Event Horizon:Hellnation, got no choiceWhat's the point of trying to vote?When this country makes warWe all die in the same boatIn this hellnation
- Eagleland: The entire American government and system are criticized to smithereens.
- The Empire: Biafra outright calls the USA "an evil empire" in "Stars and Stripes of Corruption", in reference to Ronald Reagan's infamous infantile description of the USSR in 1983. Yet the band ends the song with "I think I love it more than you/I care enough to fight!".
- Ennio Morricone Pastiche: The horn and guitar parts have a very Morriconesque feel to them.
- Epic Rocking: Four of the tracks are over five minutes.
- Evil Laugh: Heard several times in "At My Job".
- Family-Unfriendly Death: "Chicken Farm", about children who are war victims, and "Jock-O-Rama", about high school sports severely injuring the weaker children.
- Feelies: The H. R. Giger poster.
- Football Fight Song: "Jock-O-Rama" (See Rugby Is Slaughter below.)
- Franken-X: The title is a portmanteau of Frankenstein and Jesus Christ.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The album came with a poster by H. R. Giger featuring self-sodomizing penises and vulvae, "Penis Landscape", as the inner sleeve. Jello Biafra was brought to trial for distributing harmful matter to minors and almost drove his label Alternative Tentacles to bankruptcy. Although he wasn't convicted in the end and saved by financial support of fans that had to go from later editions.
- Get Out!: "Soup Is Good Food" about people becoming unemployed without the employers caring about their fate.
- Inherent in the System: "At My Job", though every song could apply.
- Interrupted Suicide: A sinister version (It Makes Sense in Context) of this trope can be found in the final verse of "Soup Is Good Food".
- Job Song: "At My Job":I'm working at my job
I'm so happy
More boring every day
But they pay me
- Karma Houdini: "Goons Of Hazzard":We leave you in a pool of bloodand we always get off scot-free.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Jello sings "I'm working at my job; I'm so happy" in a completely monotone, emotionless voice.
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: A theme in most of the tracks, most notably "Stars And Stripes Of Corruption".Of the stars and stripes of corruptionMakes me feel so ashamed to be an AmericanWhen we're too stuck up to learn from our mistakesTrying to start another VietnamWhile fiddling while Rome burns at home(...) Thank you for the toilet paperBut your flag is meaningless to meLook around, we're all peopleWho needs countries anyway?Our land I love it tooI think I love it more than youI care enough to fight
- Network Decay: "MTV Get Off The Air" attacks the tactics of the network, pretending to be giving rock 'n' roll to their audience and being a pioneer, despite having very conservative viewpoints and slowly sedating their audience's imaginations.
- Never My Fault: "A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch":When pesticides get banned we're safe up northWe just sell them to those other countriesSoon there's lots of exotic deformed babiesSomehow that's not our fault
- One-Word Title: "Frankenchrist" and the track "Hellnation".
- Patriotic Fervor: "Stars And Stripes Of Corruption"Tell me who's the real patriotsThe Archie Bunker slobs waving flags?Or the people with the guts to workFor some real change
- Protest Song: Many.
- Rebellious Spirit: All tracks rebel against the system, but also offer alternatives.
- Refuge in Audacity: This album will definitely rub some people the wrong way.
- Rugby Is Slaughter: "Jock-O-Rama" describes a government sponsored high school American football tournament as a slaughterfield:Now boys, this game ain't played for funYou're going out there to winHow d'ya win?Get out thereAnd snap the other guy's knee!Beat 'em up! beat 'em up!Ra ra raSnap those spinal cordsHa ha haThe star quarterback lies injuredUnconscious on the football fieldLooks like his neck's been brokenSeems to happen somewhere every yearHis mom and dad clutch themselves and cryTheir favorite son will never walk againCoach says, that boy gave a hundred percentWhat spiritWhat a man
- Satire: On politics, the USA, corporations, religion, TV, work, high school and the military.
- Shout Out:
- "This Could Be Anywhere" references Kojak.
- "Goons Of Hazzard" is a Pun-Based Title, referencing The Dukes of Hazzard. Likely also to be a Take That!.
- "A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch" references Elvis Presley.
- In "MTV Get Off The Air" the shows' presenters are said to be "latest rejects from The Muppet Show" who have "turned rock and roll rebellion into Pat Boone sedation, making sure nothing's left to the imagination".
- "Stars and Stripes of Corruption" has a line about "fiddling while Rome burns at home", which is a reference to Roman Emperor Nero. The same song also references "The American International Pictures logo" (Jello's description of the Capitol dome), "Archie Bunker slobs waving flags" and "just put Rambo inside your pants". The phrase "evil empire" references Ronald Reagan's infamous infantile description of the USSR in 1983.
- Deliberately invoked with Jello Biafra's cameo in Tapeheads. He plays an FBI agent arresting the main characters on obscenity charges, an ironic Casting Gag given a famous obscenity trial involving the artwork to the Dead Kennedys' Frankenchrist. ...And then he gets the line "Remember what we did to Jello Biafra?".
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Most of the tracks are very cynical, but the final one , "Stars and Stripes of Corruption", combines a long tirade against jingoism, xenophobia, disastrous foreign policy and "the blind Me Generation" with verses like:We can start by not lying so muchAnd treating other people like dirtIt's easy not to base our lives on how much we can scamLook around, we're all peopleWho needs countries anyway?.
- Stepford Smiler:
I'm working at my job, I'm so happy!!
- "At My Job"
There's something I don't like about a band who always smiles
- "MTV Get Off The Air"
- Stepford Suburbia: "This Could Be Anywhere", where several universal miserable problems are described.
- Stock Sound Effects: Car brakes in "Jock-O-Rama".
- Sucky School: "Jock-O-Rama" and "The Stars And Stripes Of Corruption" where the band criticizes schools for putting more emphasis on competition than education.
- Suicide as Comedy: The fired employee in "Soup Is Good Food" isn't allowed to kill himself by jumping off a bridge, because "a tourist might see you/ and we wouldn't want that."
- Take That!: The American government, corrupt politicians, MTV, capitalism, working, war, the army and high school.
- Textless Album Cover: It's a photo of a Shriners parade. The title is on the infamous inner sleeve.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: See the "At My Job" example above under Stepford Smiler and Lyrical Dissonance. Played for Drama.
- Uncommon Time: Part of the chorus of "MTV - Get Off the Air" is in 5/4. Because of the shouted nature of the chorus and the underlying percussion, the effect of this section is roughly the musical equivalent of a boot to the head.
- Un-person: In "Soup Is Good Food" the fired employee is informed: "You're snipped, you no longer exist".
- War Is Hell: "Chicken Farm".How many more childrenWill be killed or die at birthDeformed by Agent OrangeIn our food chain forever more?
- Wham Line: All over the album.
- While Rome Burns: "The Stars And Stripes Of Corruption".When we're too stuck up to learn from our mistakesTrying to start another VietnamWhile fiddling while Rome burns at home
- You Are Number 6: "At My Job":Your time card says your name's JoeBut we'll call you 6-3-0.
- You Watch Too Much X: "MTV Get Off The Air", a pointed attack at MTV and people who are glued to the screen watching it.