In the heady days of the post-grunge mid-'90s, it was hard to see who were real and who were pretenders -- and that didn't even take into account whose music would stand the test of time and whose wouldn't. Which is a roundabout way of saying that even if Green Day's breakthrough record, Dookie, sold millions upon millions of copies, it was hard ...
In the heady days of the post-grunge mid-'90s, it was hard to see who were real and who were pretenders -- and that didn't even take into account whose music would stand the test of time and whose wouldn't. Which is a roundabout way of saying that even if Green Day's breakthrough record, Dookie, sold millions upon millions of copies, it was hard to tell if it was a fluke of their talent or their time -- whether they deserved it or not, or whether they just were in the right place at the right time. Years later, after many more hits and brilliant albums like Warning, it became clear that Green Day were an exceptional band that was blessed to come along at precisely the right time, so they could flourish commercially and artistically. If you look at their peers, you'll realize that not many were able to pull that trick off, and a collection like International Superhits! confirms that they not only were popular and good, but they could have held their own against their idols. And that's not an idle boast, either -- listening to this generous 21-track collection, which does contain all the hits but also a new song and such non-LP songs as "J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)" (from the Angus soundtrack, if you're keeping track), it becomes clear that the group was as melodic as the Jam or the Buzzcocks and as impassioned as the Clash, only they were American and coming about 15 years too late. Those British comparisons are accurate -- they borrowed the sound and style of classic U.K. punk and delivered it with the spirit and attitude of the '80s underground, which gave them a distinctly '90s spin, where '80s irony met '60s and '70s classicism. So, even if they were unintentionally working within a familiar framework, they infused it with passion and unpredictability -- particularly in the sense that nobody would have guessed that Billie Joe Armstrong was such a damn good songwriter, no matter if he was writing frenzied punk like "Brain Stew/Jaded," sub-Stray Cat strut like "Hitchin' a Ride," or affecting pop like "When I Come Around" and "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)." Better still, that just scratches the surfaces of his talents, and it doesn't even acknowledge that he partnered with a band that could deliver those songs, resulting in a body of work more consistent and thrilling than the Sex Pistols and more ambitious than the Ramones. If that sounds like sacrilege, well, you just haven't listened with open ears, as this stellar collection proves. Distilled to their singles, Green Day sound fiercer than ever, and more musically vibrant -- and, if you're a fan of the albums, it's easy to realize that this just scratches the surface of what they've done. But that surface is spectacular -- proof positive that Green Day are one of the great punk bands, regardless of era. And there's no better proof of that than this addictive, essential collection. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
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