Police Truck

Album: Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • Dead Kennedys aren't subtle on this track, which is scathing attack on police brutality written from the perspective of a gang of wayward cops rounding up prostitutes and drug users in the paddy wagon (the "police truck"). Unlike many on the West Coast punk rock scene, Dead Kennedys weren't into destruction or violence but they were laser focused on calling out politicians and authority figures for their misdeeds in very provocative terms. There was never any dithering about the "few bad apples" that can ruin an otherwise upstanding police force - they went right at their targets.
  • An early Dead Kennedys song, "Police Truck" is a band composition with lyrics by lead singer (and chief provocateur) Jello Biafra. Guitarist East Bay Ray wrote the guitar riff that drives the track. "That guitar part is an integral part of that song," he said in a Songfacts interview. "A lot of times, we'd start in a garage behind my house – with Klaus [bass player Klaus Flouride] and Biafra – and we'd just jam. I had a really nice cassette tape deck, and we would just record the jams. Then Biafra would go home. He had a book of lyrics, and he'd search through it and see which lyrics would go with what Klaus and I came up with."
  • This was released in 1980 as the B-side of "Holiday In Cambodia." It didn't appear on an album until 1987 when it was included on the compilation Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death.

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