Remember when you could smile on a press photo? It's been awhile, I'm well aware. Remember when double-time covers of pop songs didn't suck? I know, it's a long time ago. Remember when punk rock was fun? No, really. It was, once upon a time, and out comes Snuff's 2005 release Six Of One, Half A Dozen Of The Other to remind us of that.
Snuff's retrospective / B-sides / greatest hits collection Six Of One, Half A Dozen Of The Other is worth your money in every sense of the term, and that's the theme of the review.
Here's all the angles I can think of:
Value: You're getting 50 songs, 25 of them B-sides for $15. That's 30 cents a song, if you're just looking at the numbers.
Quality: Usually subjective, but even if you don't like a majority of the songs (which would be pretty odd), there's enough here that you'll definitely find something you do like. That said, it's also a greatest hits collection, so it's presumably the best of their material.
Collectors / Super Fans: There's 25 B-sides, 3 exclusive unreleased tracks ("Fucked up R'N'R Shit," "Any Old Iron" and "Indie"), and in case you're keeping track, a couple previously Japan-only songs, and hits from EPs (though how rare those are, I'm not sure).
History: Best known to me as "the band that inspired Less Than Jake," it's interesting to hear something from the UK that isn't the Sex Pistols, Clash, or Specials. Either way, its an intriguing piece of history, if not pretty obscure.
Artwork: Though not quite as comprehensive as Shai Hulud's retrospective, there's still quite the send-off, Steve Lamacq from the BBC Radio 1 writing a page booklet's worth of thoughts, and included in the booklet is a less-than-serious Snuff family tree, at points taking credit for Melanie C (as well as the rest of the Spice Girls), the Streets, Gorillaz, tank tops, Donald Sutherland, and the error page 404. Also included are notes on the production on some records, in which the group admits to have "found out our A&R guy was coming, recorded six songs live without overdubs, and then went back to playing table tennis" in a "very posh" studio.
New Band Syndrome: Perhaps this last sensation is for music nerds exclusively, but there's just something about finding a new band, and hearing the music fresh for the first time. Snuff delivers this in spades.
Comparisons to NOFX are inevitable, and for once, well founded. Both play fast punk rock, occasionally infusing thrash and ska, are lighthearted, aren't afraid to make self-deprecating remarks, and do cover songs jokingly, but well (listen to "I Think We're Alone Now" for proof). Sorry to break it to the peanut gallery, but this is punk rock. No prefixes or suffixes needed.
So why give this package a 9? What makes this worthy of your attention and cash? In short, it's the combination of value, bonus material, high quality, a light-hearted yet remarkably thorough CD booklet and most importantly, fun. Everything came together just right for this release. Really, the only thing I can gripe about is that some old tracks aren't newly remastered, as seems to be the case, but after such strong a showing, its an afterthought.
Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's the season, or something different entirely, but this CD really found me at the right time. Perhaps it's the carefree nature of the CD, the playfulness of the tunes, but I'm really enamored of it. There's no bullshit, there's no tough stares or intimidating poses; there's simply fun, energetic punk rock music, and at the end of the day, you'll find these songs sneaking up onto your mixes, boombox, CD player or iPod. There's a glut of serious, overly technical CDs out this year, and I can't think of a better way to break the mood than Six Of One, Half A Dozen Of The Other.