Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death

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Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death
Dead Kennedys - Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death cover.jpg
Compilation album by Dead Kennedys
Released June 1987
Recorded 1979–87
Length 51:26
Label Alternative Tentacles
Dead Kennedys chronology
Bedtime for Democracy
(1986)Bedtime for Democracy1986
Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death
Mutiny on the Bay
(2001)Mutiny on the Bay2001
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AbsolutePunk (87%) link
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars link

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 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 famous 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, which also led to it being the last album released through Alternative Tentacles.

The album includes the controversial "Pull My Strings" which was played only once on March 25, 1980, when Dead Kennedys were invited to perform at the Bay Area Music Awards in front of music industry bigwigs to give the event some "new wave credibility". The band spent the day of the show practicing "California Über Alles", the song they were asked to play. In typically subversive, perverse style, the band became the talking point of the ceremony when after 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 new wave hit, "My Sharona". The song was never recorded in the studio but this performance, the first and only time the song was ever performed, was included on the album.[1][2]

Also included is "Night of the Living Rednecks", a recording of a segment of a concert in Portland, Oregon in 1979. When East Bay Ray broke a guitar string, Jello proceeded to tell a story over a jazz improvisation by the rest of the band about an encounter with a group of "dumb rich kids". The encounter supposedly took place on a previous trip to Portland with the band.[3]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Original appearance Length
1. "Police Truck" East Bay Ray, Jello Biafra "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" Biafra Not So Quiet on the Western Front 0:57
8. "Holiday in Cambodia" (single version) Greenway, Biafra, "Holiday in Cambodia" 3:46
9. "I Fought the Law" Sonny Curtis, new lyrics: Biafra Play New Rose for Me - Rose 100 2:21
10. "Saturday Night Holocaust" Biafra "Halloween" 4:21
11. "Pull My Strings" (live) Biafra, Ted March 25, 1980 - Bay Area Music Awards 5:47
12. "Short Songs" (live) 6025 Can You Hear Me? Music from the Deaf Club 0:29
13. "Straight A's" (live) Biafra, 6025 Can You Hear Me? Music from the Deaf Club 2:15
14. "Kinky Sex Makes the World Go 'Round" D.H. Peligro, Ray, Biafra, Flouride Wargasm 4:17
15. "The Prey" Ray, Biafra "Too Drunk to Fuck" 3:50
16. "Night of the Living Rednecks" (live) Biafra, Flouride, Ted N/A 5:14
17. "Buzzbomb from Pasadena" Ray, Biafra N/A 2:22



Chart (1987) Peak
UK Indie Chart[4] 1


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[5] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[6] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^
  2. ^ Dead Kennedys
  3. ^
  4. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  5. ^ "British album certifications – Dead Kennedys – Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death". British Phonographic Industry.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Enter Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death in the search field and then press Enter.
  6. ^ "American album certifications – Dead Kennedys – Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH