“Viva Las Vegas” by Dead Kennedys – First Made Famous by Elvis Presley

Las Vegas, Nevada is facing a water crisis. Things are not looking good. I think this shows that efforts to terraform other planets in the future may prove successful at first but ultimately fail.

The song “Viva Las Vegas” was written by Doc Pomus & ‎Mort Shuman for Elvis Presley to record as well as for the Movie of the same name featuring Elvis.

In the early days of Punk Rock, a lot of bands actually did cover versions of pop and rock songs from prior decades. They would dare to “punk-up” a song almost as a gag. Sometimes they were just out to piss on the concept of pop music itself.

The problem is that most of these cover versions never made it to release. The band may play the song live but it never appeared on an album or 7 inch record. The reason was because of the licensing fees required to keep it legal. These fees were partly due up-front. This made it a risky investment for a working class band to afford.

We got lucky with Dead Kennedys. They included “Viva Las Vegas” on their 1980 debut LP, Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables.

The song had been a part of their live set almost since the band’s inception. Their version strips the musical arrangement down and uses a slightly faster tempo, yet maintains the song’s melodic structure. It features satirical lyric changes by Jello Biafra, the lead singer at the time. It was later featured in Terry Gilliam’s film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The band exists today but without Jello. There is bad blood there. A new remaster of the album was just released. The problem here is that Biafra was not consulted and he has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with the results.

I have listened to the new mixes and I concur totally. Stick to the OG mixes. Good luck to Las Vegas with that predicable global warming water crisis thing. I hope that all rich people in charge are properly compensated for their losses when they file with the IRS.

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