Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Top 9 Compilation Albums of All Time

I originally submitted this as an article for the last issues of OklahomPunkScene.Com.
Anyone that knows me and my writing knows that I don’t create Top 10 lists. In an effort to go against the typical mainstream musical polling reports and charts of our time, I decided long ago to only come up with lists with off-typical numbers. So without further ado, here is my list of the nine greatest punk rock compilation albums of all time.

1. Black Flag – The First Four Years.
This album was released in 1984 by SST Records, of course. It was essentially a collection of the early Black Flag records Nervous Breakdown, Jealous Again and Six Pack and covered their pre-Rollins days.
Highlights of the album include the songs “Nervous Breakdown,” “Jealous Again,” “Clocked In,” “Six Pack” and their cover of “Louie Louie.”
Bar none one of the best hardcore punk rock albums ever released.

2. DescendentsSomery
Released on SST in 1991, Somery consists of some of the greatest songs by the Descendents to ever grace vinyl or compact disc. Comprised of nearly an hour of great music, it consists of all of their work from 1979 to 1987 and spans a body of work that has yet to be equaled.
Highlights from this album are “Clean Sheets,” “Sour Grapes,” “Good Good Things,” “Coolidge,” “Suburban Home,” “Cheer,” “Hope,” “Get the Time” and “All-O-Gistics.”

3. ALL – Greatest Hits
Bouncing off of that last album is a record put out by the “other” version of the Descendents. Essentially, I have always seen ALL as the Descendents with another singer. It was released in 1999 on the Owned and Operated label and has the interesting distinction of being the only album (that I know of) where the tracks were hand picked by the fans and not the band.
Highlights of this one include “She’s My Ex,” “Breakin Up,” “Just Perfect” and “Minute.”

4. Dead Kennedys – Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death
This compilation was released shortly after the breakup of DK in June of 1987. It contained many songs that were unreleased on any albums, alternate versions of songs that were released on albums and a few live tracks. If you ever meet someone that has never heard any Dead Kennedys and would like to, urge them strongly to buy this record! This is a great assortment of tracks by the band. It is a very impressive illustration of what this band is all about and the perfect example of their music.
Highlights of this album include “Police Truck,” “California Uber Alles,” “Holiday in Cambodia,” “Night of the Living Rednecks” and their cover of “I Fought the Law.”
The only disappointment of this album is the exclusion of the songs “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” and their cover of “Viva Las Vegas.”

5. Minor Threat – Complete Discography
This assemblage of their early records Out of Step and Flex Your Head was released on the Dischord Label in 1989. Band mates Ian MacKaye, Lyle Preslar, Brian Baker, Steve Hangsen and Jeff Nelson roar through 47 minutes of some of the best tunes to ever come out of the Washington D.C. area.
Highlights include “I Don’t Wanna Hear It,” “Straight Edge,” “Bottled Violence,” Minor Threat,” “In My Eyes,” “Out of Step,” their cover of “Steppin Stone,” and “Good Guys.”

6. Bad Religion – Tested
This live album was recorded during their Gray Race tour in several international spots such as Denmark, Austria and Germany (among others) as well as several U.S. cities. It was released initially in Europe in 1997. The first time I bought this album I was spending some time over in the southeastern part of Asia, I think I was in Singapore specifically and I remember thinking that this was one of the best live albums of any band that I had ever heard. I would have to go on record as stating that this opinion still stands.
Highlights on Tested include “Operation Rescue,” “Drunk Sincerity,” “Change of Ideas,” “What It Is,” “American Jesus,” “Do What You Want,” “Struck a Nerve” and “No Control.”

7. Dead Milkmen – Chaos Rules, Live at the Troc
The only completely live album on this list (Tested has some studio recorded tracks in addition to the live tracks); this album released in 1994 by Restless Records was recorded live in their home town of Philadelphia. This band was great at satire, their name, in fact, was a parody of another band with an album on this list, the Dead Kennedys. They never took themselves too seriously while making a batch of some really good records. This release marked what I consider to be the end of the band, having afterwards leaving Restless to sign with Hollywood Records and started making essentially substandard records. They broke up in 1995.
Highlights include “Tiny Town,” “I Walk the Thinnest Line,” “Big Lizard,” “The Thing That Only Eats Hippies,” “Punk Rock Girl” and “Right Wing Pigeons.”

8. The Ramones – The Chrysalis Years
Who could have a best of punk rock anything without mentioning these guys? I know I couldn’t. The band, formed in 1974 in Queens, New York, arguably inaugurated punk rock in the United States and pioneered a sound that mixed basic rock ‘n’ roll with surf rock and bubblegum music and created a sound that has been imitated ever since. The Chrysalis Years, released in 2002, contains three CDs worth of albums not only compiled from the Brain Drain, Mondo Bizarro, Acid Eaters, Adios Amigos but also consists of huge batch of great live tracks.
Highlights include “I Believe in Miracles,” “Palisades Park,” “Pet Semetary,” “SpiderMan,” “Teenage Lobotomy,” “I Wanna Be Sedated,” “Sheena is A Punk Rocker,” “Somebody Put Something in My Drink,” “The KKK Took My Baby Away,” “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World,” “I Wanna Live,” and “Beat on the Brat.”

9. Misfits – The Coffin Boxed Set
This 1996 Caroline Records release is one of the coolest ideas for a box set to come from a band that I have ever seen. It was released in a black cardboard coffin with the inside lined in red velvet. Awesome! It included 4 CDs, one of which was the entire Static Age album, originally recorded in 1978 but never released. Also included is a cool little paperback booklet full of lyrics and a commentary by former Misfits photographer Eerie Von.
Highlights from this compilation are “She,” “I Turned into a Martian,” “Astro Zombies,” “Teenagers From Mars,” “Some Kind of Hate,” “London Dungeon,” and “Skulls.” Truth be told, the entire ensemble is a highlight.

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