A five star rating.
Out of the 318 reviews located at punknews.org, 68 have previously achieved this feat, getting a 10 out of 10, a perfect score, an A+. Some, I completely agree with [Jawbreaker's "24 Hour Revenge Therapy" and "Dear You", The Dead Kennedys' "Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables", NOFX's "Punk In Drublic"], some I think are completely off the mark [Sum 41's "Half Hour Of Power", MxPx's "The Ever Passing Moment"], but amazingly, out of all 68 five star reviews on this site, not one of them is written by me.
I have contributed 71 reviews to this site prior to this one, and the highest rating any has gotten from me is four and a half stars [a three-way tie between Hot Water Music's "No Division", Diffuser's "Injury Loves Melody", and The Good Life's "Novena On A Nocturn"]. I have been reviewing records since 1997, and take it incredibly seriously. I don't believe that five star ratings should be tossed around like they mean nothing. A five star rating indicates an album has absolutely no faults; that it is a veritable masterpiece; that it is the artist in question's best work of their career. So it is with great pleasure that I present my first ever five star rating to Green Day's "Warning".
Green Day and I go way back, all the way back to the summer of 1994. I'm sure many of you have a similar memory: sitting at home at age 12, flicking channels randomly until the station becomes MTV. You pause for a second and observe the video about to take place on the screen: A short guy with a cruddy blue and white guitar and spiky hair stands in a mental hospital, waiting for the right moment to spew forth his prophecy. And then it begins: "Do you have the time/To listen to me whine/About nothing and everything all at once?" That was all it took. The snotty vocal line with the almost-too-precise guitar crunch was too much for me to take, I was riveted to the screen for the next 3 minutes. Hearing the perfect background harmonies from the bass player assured me I would enjoy, and then the drums kicked in and I knew I was in for something special.
Green Day changed my life. It's a bold statement to make, but one that is completely true. From that day forth, I would never be the same. I soon acquired "Dookie" [ironically, out of the more than 1000 CDs that I own now, this is the only one that I can't remember where I got it from] and learned it from open to close, along with the majority of America. I soon began to explore Green Day's back catalogue, while at the same time my older brother began to get into punk rock through other bands like the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag. I didn't know Green Day was "punk rock" at the time, I just knew I loved them.
I remember making my first Green Day-related purchase after "Dookie" - My dad and I were on a road trip from Arizona back to our home in Illinois in January of 1995, and before we left Phoenix, we stopped at a Best Buy and I purchased "Kerplunk!" I was almost afraid to play it in the car, for fear that my dad might whip it out of the window at 65 miles an hour, but he kept telling me to put it in, so I did. For the next 40 minutes he indulged me, telling by the air drums I was currently banging on that this band was something special. After it ended [with a cover of "My Generation," the one song I noticed that he enjoyed], he looked at me and said "Well, it's not really my thing, but I'm glad you like it." That was probably the biggest bonding moment I've ever had with my father.
After I wore out "Kerplunk!", I purchased "1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours" followed by "Insomniac" which came out that fall. Neither album really did the same things for me that "Kerplunk!" and "Dookie" did for me. I had no real desire to listen to either of those albums again. Sure, they had good songs on them, but it's sort of the shock value. With "Dookie" and "Kerplunk!", I was getting something I had never heard before. Everything after that was more or less along for the ride. The same thing happened with Green Day's 1997 release "Nimrod." I bought it and enjoyed it, but I can't say that it frequents my CD player very often. But I still had faith in Green Day.
Skip to summer of 2000. Green Day is reported as playing on the Warped Tour. I am ecstatic. I go as a member of the press and ended up being more of a blubbering fan after meeting Mike and Tre backstage and getting to talk to them [Billie Joe was pulling a "rockstar" that day and not talking to anyone]. It was like my dream come true. The show was amazing, and although I couldn't actually see the band beyond the first song [it's a long story, with the moral of it being that the World's/Tweeter Center's security guards are the biggest bunch of pigs and bigots I've ever encountered], I got some amazing pictures from the photo pit and I sang along with every word of their "Greatest Hits" set. Afterwards, I felt kind of bummed out that even though they had a new album coming out in the fall, they played absolutely nothing off of it. This made me start to doubt the band -- if they weren't comfortable playing new material in front of the throngs of people that first embraced them those many years ago, how would they ever be comfortable with it anywhere?
Skip to fall of 2000. I'm now starting my freshman year of college, and learning about the wonders of an incredibly fast connection to the internet. I find a site that has the entire "Warning" album available for download, a month before the album comes out. Being the true denying-authority punker that I am [yeah right], I proceed to download it and play it. And play it and play it and play it. It took about a dozen listens to grow on me, but then, that lucky 13th time, the entire album just clicked. I was singing along like I wrote the damn thing. I was playing the air drums all over again, something that had evaded me with Green Day since, well, 1994. There's no need to describe each song here. With a five star album, you shouldn't have to. The album should be an experience, not a track by track listen. A lot of people had bitched about it because there's no distortion, so it COULDN'T be punk rock. Please. This is as punk rock as they've ever been. Every song is incredibly crafted, with wonderful solos, ridiculously catchy hooks [I mean really - have you heard "Waiting" yet?], and their influences range from The Clash to Bruce Springsteen to Bob Dylan. To mix those three artists is about as punk rock as you can get. Green Day is not just a punk rock band, they are the embodiment of "Punk Rock" in the year 2000. After "Warning," this band can only get better. Is it possible to give six stars on this site, because I might have to, with their next album.
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