GREEN DAY

"21st Century Breakdown" (Reprise; 2009)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Rock opera!! Yes, that's right. Green Day wrote a rock opera! What? Punk isn't allowed to do that? Did I mention it was Green Day? Oh, yeah, they already did it with "American Idiot," so welcome to the second show. This disc clocks in at 69:15 and it's packed full of music ranging from pop-punk to alternative and straight punk and it fits together just like a musical story should.

Grabbing at political issues but never really tackling them, Green Day use their punk label to spit lyrics that have a guitar hook attached so it's more entertainment than a mantra. The music isn't just quick but, just like Green Day does on every disc, they deliver quick wit with harmonies. Billie Joe said that he wrote most of the songs on a piano and you can hear a more melodic tone on the songs "!Viva La Gloria!," "Last Night on Earth" and the radio hits that helped them to win numerous awards, including a Grammy.

Since Green Day decided to record a rock opera it gave them a chance to develop a song instead of penning some snotty lyrics and a three chord riff to push a point. Many of the songs are over four minutes and a couple even pass the five minute mark. It gives them a more rounded feel because they can put more into a song and show their true musical side. Yes they're a punk band, but on a whole different level.

Green Day: Billie Joe Armstrong – lead vocals, guitar, piano; Tré Cool – drums, percussion; Mike Dirnt – bass guitar, backing vocals. Additional musicians: Jason Freese – piano; Tom Kitt – string arrangements; Patrick Warren – string conducting.

For more information, check out http://www.greenday.com.

"Bullet in a Bible" (Reprise; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

One of the things that made Green Day one of the most popular bands in the world today is their legendary live show. "Bullet in a Bible" does an amazing job of capturing the magic and power of that live show and gives the consumer a lot of bang for their buck at the same time.

"Bullet in a Bible" is a CD/DVD combo, including a 14-track CD and a 2 1/2 hour DVD. The CD is broken up into seven tracks from the band's huge worldwide hit, "American Idiot," and seven tracks spanning the balance of the band's career. That tracklisting may sound like it's a little unbalanced and, frankly, it may be. Still, the material from "American Idiot" is so well-written and so powerful ... not to mention translates so well into a live performance ... that the decision to include those tracks was a wise one. 

The band is dead-on throughout, delivering a performance with stunning charisma and dynamic energy that is not only plainly obvious on the DVD but comes through explosively on the audio CD as well. The strong audience interaction is just one indicator of how great the live show is.

If there's any complaint here it's about the DVD format. Rather than just including a full disc of the band's live performance, the DVD included here is one of those documentary-style concert discs. In other words, the songs are divided by backstage footage, interviews, etc. and the flow of the live concert is lost. It would have been nice to just be able to put on the DVD, sit back and enjoy the show. Don't get me wrong, the additional footage is interesting and fun but I only wish I had the ability to watch the concert only.

An excellent companion to the great "American Idiot" CD and a perfect souvenir for those who caught hte band on tour, Green Day's "Bullet in a Bible" is another notch in the band's already considerably notched belt of success.

For more information, check out www.greenday.com

"American Idiot" (Reprise; 2004)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Recently, my good friend and staff writer Snidermann wrote a review for the new CD by Full Scale, in which he railed against politics in rock'n'roll. Snidermann wrote: "I don't mind politics mixed into my music but this CD is relentless. Frankly, I found it exhausting rather than relaxing. If I wanted a sermon, I would go to church. If I wanted a lecture on politics, I would watch television."

I repeat Steve's comments here because I feel the same way he does, perhaps even more so. I understand the importance and the relevance of politics in rock'n'roll, but I don't want it forced down my throat. I think there are ways of making your point without hitting someone over the head with a sledgehammer.

Green Day wears their politics on their sleeve on "American Idiot," but their poetic lyrics and crushing melodies soften the blow. And, apparently unlike Full Scale, Green Day don't give you 80 minutes of nonstop political ranting and raving.

There are may reasons to call "American Idiot" brilliant. There are the aforementioned cleverly poetic lyrics; the consistently powerful and solid songwriting; the pitch perfect production and the scope and breadth of the recording throughout.

One of the things I like about modern punk is its ability to morph, breathe and change. "American Idiot" is a fine example of that, running the gamut from Ramones-like rhythms to interludes that sound as though they could have come from The Clash or sometimes even something out of 50s hits. Two of the tracks hereon are mini-stories. Both "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Homecoming" are divided into five chapters and play like mini rock operas and they work magnificently.

"American Idiot" is yet another chapter in the ever-evolving and always surprising career of Green Day. I know it may be some time, but I can't wait to see what they pull out of their hat next time.

Green Day: Billie Joe Armstrong - guitar, lead vocals; Mike Dirnt - bass, vocals; Tre Cool - drums, vocals. Additional musicians include: Rob Cavallo - piano; Jason Freese - saxophone; Kathleen Hanna - guest vocals. 

For more information, check out www.greenday.com

"Nimrod" (Reprise; 1997)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This is Green Day's fifth studio album and they just keep getting better. All of the songs on this disc are nasty and snotty and peppered with profanity. That's a combination for some great music! They sound a lot tighter and I’m sure that touring and playing together every day helped to solidify their thud. There are eighteen songs on this disc; granted, the longest song is 3:47, but you get a lot of Green Day to soak up.

Radio hits were heard more from previous albums but the song "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" was the one that showed a softer side of punk. The song was overplayed and I still can't get through the whole thing because it was used for graduations, death bed gatherings and I think some exiting politicians even used it for their last call song.

Each song has a story behind it and even though punk is about rebellion Green Day had managed to reach beyond the rapid chords and pen lyrics about anger, alcoholism and breaking up. That's what makes Green Day different in their approach to pop punk.

Rip these: "Hitchin' A Ride," "The Grouch," "All The Time," "Walking Alone," "King For a Day," "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)," and "Prosthetic Head."

Green Day: Billie Joe Armstrong – lead vocals, guitar, harmonica on track 13; Mike Dirnt – bass, backing vocals; Tré Cool – drums.

For more information, check out http://www.greenday.com.

"Insomniac" (Reprise; 1995)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

"Dookie" was the disc that put the band name Green Day into all the punk kids' vocabulary. "Insomniac" was a bit darker in tone but it still had plenty of snotty, lip-raising songs to keep the skaters doing their thang. The production isn't bad but it sounds sort of muddy -- I know punk shouldn't be polished; maybe I forgot what it's supposed to sound like.

There isn't much difference between "Dookie" and "Insomniac" and since Green Day was establishing themselves as punk purveyors it's good that they kept with the same sound. They want to be a pop-punk band and, after listening, their quest is evident. Quick chords and even quicker vocals make Green Day the leader because they hit the ground running before anybody else knew there was a race.

Try and sleep these off: "Armatage Shanks," "Stuck With Me," "Geek Stink Breath," "Bab's Uvula Who?," "Panic Song," "Brain Stew/Jaded," and "Walking Contradiction."

Green Day: Billie Joe Armstrong – lead vocals, guitar; Mike Dirnt – bass, backing vocals; Tré Cool – drums.

For more information, check out www.greenday.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2011 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 19 Feb 2017 18:25:01 -0500.