In no particular order, my top 5 gotta-take-with-me-to-a-desert-island albums are Ramones S/T, Screeching Weasel “Thanks You Very Little”, The Queers “Later Days and Better Lays”, The Riverdales “Phase 3″ and Chixdiggit “Pink Razors”.
I’ll start explaining my selections based on the oldest purchased of this group, the Weasel album. I believe I got this one back when I was 19 (and it may have been one of my first online purchases). This was a double-disc release of which the first CD contained 28 songs by the Chicago band between 1986 and 1999; the second was a recording of a live show from Philadelphia. As I started to get into alt-rock/punk that was less-commercialized, Weasel was a band that immediately stood out to me for many reasons and still holds a place in my heart today. What I loved about this collection of songs was how incredibly diverse a punk album can be—write one angry song, followed by a poppy love song, followed by a political song and sprinkle in some tunes about “nothing”. I particularly like that they’ve produced lyrics specific enough to their personal lives and geography—unlike a generic pop song that’s so watered down it makes you puke. Track 17, “Waiting for Susie” is probably one of my favorite songs of all-time encapsulating the trademark hi-fret guitar work and catchy chorus.
The Queers “Later Days..” is an album that relates to the Weasel album quite a bit. Both bands are from the same strain of 3-chord Ramones-influenced music and have collaborated over the years. It’s apparent on first listen that this collection of songs was the result of recording where it was more important to get the tracks captured raw and quick rather than dial in the sounds like some of their surf-influenced work. And I love that rawness. Or maybe I just like fast music. Also, to those who’re interested, I just got to do artwork for a split 7″ featuring the Queers on a release by Asian Man Records. Pick up the limited release here.
I had to put the Ramones’ first release on here. Most other bands I listen to have been influenced one way or another by this album. It even got me to pick up a guitar. When this was released I was told by someone who bought it back in the late 70’s that it sounded like the record was sped up—not many bands rifled through songs as fast as those guys. In the end they were really just pop songs sang by an awkward tall dude to the sound of a down-stroked guitar and a lotta eighth notes. What’s not to like?
It’s not looking that I stray very far musically when I put down The Riverdales’ “Phase Three”. I do listen to other stuff, but how can I be without an album that sounds soooo good? This band is actually 2/4 of a Screeching Weasel lineup. Bassist Dan Vapid sings on half the songs, providing his eerily smooth, monotone voice that’s the perfect compliment to Ben Weasel’s nasely tunes. This is the third album by the band that started as a straight-up tribute to the Ramones where little time was spent writing songs. On this take, however, you can tell they spent time crafting the perfect pop-punk album that provides a lot more feeling than you’d expect. What’s also cool, is the new reissue has 3 newer songs that somehow make it even greater. Oh, and I like ’em enough to do a tribute poster for ’em.
I don’t know if Chixdiggit’s “Pink Razors” would still be on my list five years from now, but even after purchasing it five years ago, it’s still got the same gusto it had originally. It’s nice to have a Canadian band on the list too:) Honorary runners up are The Lillingtons, Ike Reilly, Sloppy Seconds, Groovie Ghoulies and Everclear.