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Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death

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Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death
Compilation album by
ReleasedJune 1987
LabelAlternative Tentacles
Dead Kennedys chronology
Bedtime for Democracy
Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death
Mutiny on the Bay
Professional ratings
Review scores
AbsolutePunk(87%) link
AllMusic link
Spin Alternative Record Guide4/10[1]

Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death (stylized as Give me convenience OR give me death) is a compilation album by the American hardcore punk band Dead Kennedys. It was released in June 1987 through front man Jello Biafra's record label Alternative Tentacles.

The image on its album cover is a composite of a 1950s shaving cream ad and a 1946 famine in Calcutta.


The album consists of songs (or in some cases, different versions of songs) that were not released on the band's studio albums. The original vinyl version had tracks 16 and 17 on an extra flexi disc. The album was certified gold by both BPI and the RIAA in December 2007. The title is a play on the ultimatum by Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty, or give me death!", and is intended as a commentary on American consumerism. Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death was the last Dead Kennedys album that Biafra approved the production of, and the last album released through Alternative Tentacles.

The album includes "Pull My Strings", recorded live, which they played only once on March 25, 1980 at the Bay Area Music Awards ("BAMMIES") in front of music industry bigwigs to give the event some "new wave credibility". The band spent the day of the show practicing their increasingly popular "California Über Alles", the song they were asked to play. About 15 seconds into the song Jello Biafra said, "Hold it! We've gotta prove that we're adults now. We're not a punk rock band, we're a new wave band."

The band, who all wore white shirts with a big, black S painted on the front, pulled black ties from around the backs of their necks to form a dollar sign, then started playing "Pull My Strings", a satirical attack on the ethics of the mainstream music industry. The song also referenced the Knack's biggest hit, "My Sharona". The song was never recorded in the studio but this performance, the only time the song was ever performed, was included on the album.[2]

Also included is "Night of the Living Rednecks", which was recorded during a show in Portland, Oregon in 1979 when East Bay Ray snapped a guitar string as the band finished their song "Chemical Warfare". While the guitar string was being replaced, Biafra vamped for time by telling a story, backed by Ted and Flouride performing a jazz-style instrumental, about how on the last trip the band made to Portland, where he had a confrontation with some "dumb rich kids" in a "life-size Hot Wheels car" that involved him throwing a rock at their vehicle after they sprayed water on him and later trapping himself in a telephone booth when they retaliated.[citation needed]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Original appearanceLength
1."Police Truck"Jello Biafra, East Bay Ray"Holiday in Cambodia"2:27
2."Too Drunk to Fuck"Biafra"Too Drunk to Fuck"2:42
3."California über alles" (single version)Biafra, John Greenway"California über alles"3:28
4."The Man with the Dogs"Biafra"California über alles"3:04
5."Insight"Biafra"Kill the Poor"1:42
6."Life Sentence"Biafra"Bleed for Me"2:41
7."A Child and His Lawnmower"BiafraNot So Quiet on the Western Front0:57
8."Holiday in Cambodia" (single version)Dead Kennedys"Holiday in Cambodia"3:46
9."I Fought the Law"Sonny Curtis, new lyrics: BiafraPlay New Rose for Me – Rose 1002:21
10."Saturday Night Holocaust"Dead Kennedys"Halloween"4:21
11."Pull My Strings" (live)Biafra, TedMarch 25, 1980 – Bay Area Music Awards5:47
12."Short Songs" (live)6025Can You Hear Me? Music from the Deaf Club0:29
13."Straight A's" (live)Biafra, 6025Can You Hear Me? Music from the Deaf Club2:15
14."Kinky Sex Makes the World Go 'Round"Dead KennedysWargasm4:17
15."The Prey"Biafra, Ray"Too Drunk to Fuck"3:50
16."Night of the Living Rednecks" (live)Biafra, Flouride, TedNovember 19, 1979 – Earth Tavern, Portland, OR5:14
17."Buzzbomb from Pasadena"Biafra, RayN/A2:22


  • Jello Biafra – vocals, producer, artwork, compiler
  • East Bay Ray – guitar, echoplex, producer, mixer
  • Klaus Flouride – bass, backing vocals
  • Ted – drums (tracks 1-5, 8, 11-13, 16), artwork
  • D.H. Peligro – drums, backing vocals (tracks 6, 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, 17)
  • 6025 – rhythm guitar (tracks 12, 13)

Additional Performers[edit]

  • Ninotchka (Therese Soder) – backing vocals on "Insight"


  • Thom Wilson – producer
  • Geza X – producer, backing vocals
  • Norm – producer
  • Elliot Mazer – producer
  • Jim Keylor – engineer
  • John Cuniberti – producer, engineer
  • Oliver Dicicco – mixer, engineer
  • Pippin Youth – mixer
  • Dee Dee Graves – artwork
  • Winston Smith – artwork
  • Jayed Scotti - artwork


Chart (1987) Peak
UK Indie Chart[3] 1


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[4] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[5] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Arnold, Gina (1995). "Dead Kennedys". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 106–107. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  2. ^ Dead Kennedys (1980). "Pull My Strings". YouTube.
  3. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980–1989. Cherry Red Books. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  4. ^ "British album certifications – Dead Kennedys – Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death". British Phonographic Industry.
  5. ^ "American album certifications – Dead Kennedys – Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death". Recording Industry Association of America.