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Pennywise - Straight Ahead (Cover Artwork)

Pennywise

Pennywise: Straight AheadStraight Ahead (1999)
Epitaph Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: Cham Clowder
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Pennywise have been around a long time. When you think of 1990's punk rock, Pennywise undoubtedly comes to mind along with Ten Foot Pole, Gob, Lagwagon and NOFX. 1999 was a time when Millencolin still played ska, and emo was something I didn't understand but thought that was maybe what Samiam played.

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Pennywise have been around a long time. When you think of 1990's punk rock, Pennywise undoubtedly comes to mind along with Ten Foot Pole, Gob, Lagwagon and NOFX. 1999 was a time when Millencolin still played ska, and emo was something I didn't understand but thought that was maybe what Samiam played.

Arguments with friends revolved around whether Good Riddance's best album was Ballads or Operation Phoenix, what anarchy actually was, whether or not the Offspring were sell-outs, the possibility of Bad Religion ever returning to their Epitaph roots, and the potential of Blink ever returning to their Dude Ranch days. Well, time has answered these questions, but anyway...

This album, Straight Ahead, came after the self-titled, Unknown Road, About Time, and momentous Full Circle albums.

In fact, this was the first CD I listened to by Pennywise; hell, it was one of my first punk CDs. I remember spending the summer of 1999 listening to this, How Far Shallow Takes You by Gob, Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo by MxPx and Survival of the Fattest. I was 16 and thought this album was sensational. Perfect for weekends at the lake, driving around with windows down or blasting in the backyard at a party.

Well, six years later and my interest in Pennywise long gone, I come across an article on this site saying they have a new album in the pipe. I check the reviews and see that this, in my opinion their best album, is missing a much-deserved review. So, I searched through my collection, putting aside the newest Alkaline Trio and He is Legend records, and throw it in the player.

I thought it might sound old or jaded, but I was terribly wrong. This album still packs a massive punch. With the opening notes of "Greed" I remembered why I loved this band so much -- their passion, the intensity, the sing-along quality. Such an enjoyable and integral band.

The opening lyrics sucked me back in: "Everything you want you always think you need, you are so selfish, motivated by greed." This was why I got into punk in the first place. As I listened to it, song after song of awesome riffs and great catchy songs ensued. The album pulled back great memories of underage drinking, sunny days, trying and failing miserably to pick up girls, late nights, getting grounded, and stealing cigarettes to sneak by the lake. It reminded me of what it's like not to have to worry as much, to just let go and have a good time. Pennywise is party music.

Pretty much all the songs on this album are good; it's good enough to listen to in its entirety without skipping.

My personal favourites are:

  • "My Own Country:" Great, catchy rythm and good lyrics, you'll be singing this song before it's through.
  • "Can't Believe It" is another classic, a driving, harder song, but still so catchy that you'll be singing along.
  • "Still Can Be Great" triggers memories of a girl I dated; it is another classic Pennywise tune, with great harmonies and lyrics that will stay in your head for weeks.
  • "Straight Ahead," "My Own Way" and "Watch Me as I Fall" probably stand out even more from the bunch. They are probably 3 of the best punk songs of the 1990's. "Watch Me as I Fall" has the great lyrics "I'm fueled by gasoline, alcohol, and nicotine...watch me as I fall."
  • "Alien" is the ballad of the album, slower and more relaxed, but still a great tune. It ends with the repeated singing of "we're all aliens;" again, really catchy and fun song.
  • The rest of the album also rocks; another special mention is the last song "Badge of Pride," another true Pennywise classic.
All in all, this is a hard CD to point out just a few good songs, as you can see by my listing pretty much all of them as favourites.

Anyway, I missed this album, and it is now safely back in CD rotation. If anyone else out there is like me, they remember this album but have forgotten how good it is. Give it a whirl and tell me it's not the best Pennywise, and one of the best albums of the 1990's.

9.5/10

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Pennywise - Full CircleRise Against - Revolutions Per MinutePennywise - From The AshesNOFX - Punk In DrublicBad Religion - SufferPennywise - Land of the Free?NOFX - The DeclineNOFX - Wolves in Wolves' ClothingBad Religion - The Empire Strikes FirstPennywise - About Time

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
StandAlone (October 3, 2009)

This is my favorite Pennywise record. I love every track. I learned to play guitar jammin' to this album.

punk_rawk_show (May 3, 2007)

Fucking sick album, cant complain about anything pennywise has ever done, and no not all their songs sound the same

Anonymous (March 22, 2006)

This was my first PW album and it's their most intersting album, though I think Full circle their peak. My favourite songs are Victim of reality and One voice.
Iliyan, Bulgaria

Anonymous (October 27, 2005)

Here's to "thenightprowler"! People who say they have grown up and are too mature for punk now shit me. Bands like Bad Religion deliver some of the most thought provoking music out there today. As far as Pennywise go, they aren't as sophisticated as BR but who cares, they write positive music which is more than most of the people bagging them can say they do! If you stopped listening to them in the 8th grade what the hell are you doing reveiwing one of the albums. Haven't you got more 'mature' things to be doing!

Anonymous (October 8, 2005)

this is pw's worst album by far, you must be high on paint giving this 9/10.
-rkl

pabstboy (October 8, 2005)

Definetly not one of their best, but always satisfying enough Pennywise is says Yoda.

Anonymous (October 6, 2005)

I like that one megaman game where you run around shooting things and get weapon powerups by defeating bosses.

TheCaptain (October 6, 2005)

Megaman 2 conquers all.

Anonymous (October 5, 2005)

Mega Man 3 is my favorite

Anonymous (October 5, 2005)

but...i'll keep buying traditional megaman games till the end of time...
Megaman zero 4!@!@

im not interested in pennywise

TheCaptain (October 5, 2005)

"Having a favorite Pennywise album is like having a favorite megaman game. "

Bahahahaha......

Great quote. There is truth to this.

Anonymous (October 4, 2005)

Having a favorite Pennywise album is like having a favorite megaman game.

-Ken

punkcorekid (October 3, 2005)

full circle is still my favorite.

dazed (October 3, 2005)

This is a good album but I can see why people have bad things to say about it; it's the first Pennywise album where they quit progressing entirely and it was somewhat disappointing at the time. "Alien" isn't a very good single either.

It's not as good as any of their first 4 albums but it's still a lot better than anything they've done since except "The Fuse".

Anonymous (October 3, 2005)

Alien is not a ballad.

clamum (October 3, 2005)

"i stopped listening to this band in 8th grade, just like everyone else"

You're a fucking fool.

TheCaptain (October 3, 2005)

"full circle is one of their worst"

Hmm.......ok.

JohnnyRev99 (October 3, 2005)

This is the first Pennywise record I ever heard and I agree with this reviewer. Although the self-titled record is their best.

clamum (October 3, 2005)

This album fucking rocks

Anonymous (October 3, 2005)

you fucks are crazy

full circle is one of their worst

unknown road and about time are their only "classics" self titled is pretty rad too, the rest of their shit is not that grand

-the other scott

TheCaptain (October 3, 2005)

I'd rate them like so:

Full Circle -- 9
About Time -- 8
Unknown Road -- 8
Straight Ahead -- 7
S/T -- 7
The Fuse -- 6.5
Land of the Free -- 6
From the Ashes -- 5.5

joeg (October 3, 2005)

unknown road and full circle are the only 2 pennywise albums you need.

poopypants (October 3, 2005)

1.full circle-9.5
2.straight ahead-8.5
3.about time-8
4.land of the free-8
5.s/t-7.5 (very good for its time though)
6. the fuse - 6
7.unknown road - 6
8.from the ashes- 5

just my 2 cents. full circle is really the only one thats strong from start to finish. its also the only one i'd consider essential.

the first half of the fuse is actually quite good if you're a fan...but it really tapers off around track 7 or so

from the ashes is really terrible.

paul

Anonymous (October 3, 2005)

I just saw Pennywise last night withH2O in Buffalo and they put on a show. Those fellas were bang on with their recorded stuff.

SilentStorms (October 3, 2005)

Yeah i used to fucking love this and Full Circle. Good times.

Anonymous (October 3, 2005)

... i think Pennywise USED to attract 'bros and frat boys', but do they realy still? I kinda doubt that

Anonymous (October 3, 2005)

amen

Anonymous (October 3, 2005)

I don't really care about you, your summer or the girl you dated. Tell me about the music you piece of s***.

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

the two most prominent Bad Religion 'cover' bands of the early 90's (used in a positive sense) were NOFX and Pennywise. From that beginning, NOFX has gone on to start fat records, Fat Mike has started punk voter, they put out a record like 'the decline', are very visible and involved in multiple projects, and generally have come into their own.

Pennywise has gone from a Bad Religion cover band to a pennywise cover band, and in some respects, that is amazing to think of.

I like some of full circle, but since then I wish they would go for broke and do something creative. I've completely ignored the last 3-4 albums.

The 2 stars is for 'alien', which if you ignore their attempt to make it a 'single', is a pretty decent track.

wyzo

xcm (October 2, 2005)

this album isnt nearly as bad as their newer ones, however its also isnt nearly as good as their earlier stuff

TheCaptain (October 2, 2005)

"i'm not sure you can give any pennywise album a 9, but i am damn sure this pennywise album is NOT a 9"

Full Circle is worthy of a 9.

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

my favourite pennywise album to date. no a single song is filler, where i found the filler factor on full circle to really annoy me. these guys have a longevity factor that outways 95% of bands these days, and the fact that they are still putting out quality music after 17 years is a damn decent achievement. fuck, i couldnt give a shit wat any1 thinks but hell, i loved land of the free? the fuse is an awesome album as well, except for premeditated murder, that track shits me. my favourite band period

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

This album is the beginning of PW's downward spiral. The production on this and every other studio album since has just sucked, and the songwriting has been sub-par at best. They seriously peaked with "Full Circle".

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

A good album but none of these are THE BEST SONGS OF THE NINEDEEZ! The challenge of a review is saying why songs are awesome, not how awesome you think they are

stevejonestherealbones (October 2, 2005)

i'm not sure you can give any pennywise album a 9, but i am damn sure this pennywise album is NOT a 9

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

i hate pennywise and the bro/fratboy fans they attract

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

Oh yeah, by the way - former Rancid collaborator and Reggae superstar Buju Banton (remember Give Em the Boot 2?) has just been indicted for the alleged beatings of 6 gay men. You can find the story on BBC news.

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

I liked that cover art more when it was used by KMFDM in oh, say like 1985-1999.

-Ken

Ignitedude (October 2, 2005)

Pennywise are an awesome band full stop.

Fast, aggressive, intense, honest, thought provoking and postive are all words that come straight to mind when I think of this band.

This is some of the best melodic punk rock you will ever have the pleasure to hear.

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

straight ahead was the album that made me lose interest in them. i haven't bought a pennywise album since, and from what i've heard, i haven't been missing out.

the fact is, pennywise play a style that's very easy to grow out of. i've found out about so many different bands since i was 15, and it's hard to really enjoy pennywise now that i know about a million bands can blow them out of the water, as far as creativity and intensity goes.

i've also heard that fletcher is a big mean asshole.

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

This is a pretty good album.

JKyle (October 2, 2005)

Full Circle is the only Pennywise album I really like anymore, but this one's pretty good, too. The one after this was mediocre to the max, and I haven't listened to their two latest albums.

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

You know, I really liked these guys in 9th grade.

But -- I still really like them today.

I just bought the remastered self-titled record last night. The sound quality difference is amazing! If you like the ST, but thought it kind of sucks that you have to turn it up LOUDDDDDD in order to really jam out, you should check out the remastered version.

The end.

JOSH!

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

I never cared for this band. They've always been Bad Religion's less talented and far less articulate younger brother.

localh (October 2, 2005)

My own country is pretty good.
Full Circle and Self Titled are the best by far.
They do not put on that good of a show though.
Guttermouth was way better when I saw them in 2004.

BrandonSideleau (October 2, 2005)

A good album, by a good band......ruined by knucklehead fans and a lack of new ideas....kind of like Rage lol.

AlmostPunkEnough (October 2, 2005)

i actually broke this out yesterday after seeing them thursday night, i always felt it was underrated, but definitley not their best work. still good stuff though.

recordings (October 2, 2005)

weird, i also gave this a spin today and was enjoying some trips down memory lane. good stuff.

and no way in hell am i gettin into this "pennywise put out the same albums" shit.

TheCaptain (October 2, 2005)

No way does this deserve 4 1/2 stars. Can't anybody write an unbiased review for once?

The first couple tracks are great, but all in all, this is a weak album. Full Circle, About Time and Unknown Road are all much better.

Archangel (October 2, 2005)

You've crossed the line from "personal review" to "nostalgic LJ entry".

TheOneTrueBill (October 2, 2005)

I totaly agree that the "oh, I used to listen to this when was 14" comment is lame. I was talking with someone today about how I was at a lame hipster party and they put on Reel Big Fish and there was a sense of "oh, I loved this when I was 14." Well fuck you, I still like Reel Big Fish (well, sort of) and Pennywise.

Speaking of which, I bought my ticket for the Bad Religion/Pennywise tour. FUCK YEAH.

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

yes yes, very good album. my favorite of theirs. i like the personal approach to this review. i can relate.
:)

bemused (October 2, 2005)

This was also one of my first punk albums I bought when I was 14. I loved it so much then-but looking back now-Full Circle and About Time are their better albums. I've deliberately failed to hear any of their albums since Land of the Free.

-Chris-

TheNightProwler (October 2, 2005)

This is my favorite Pennywise album.

I really get annoyed at the "yeah I liked them in the 8th grade" comments, like you can't listen to bands like Pennywise once you reach a certain age and have the same fun that you had listening to it back when you were younger thinking of all the memories because you’re all “grown up” now and listen to sophisticated music that you praise when the band first starts out but once they gain a shred of popularity and their new album comes out you declare them yesterdays news, frauds, & shallow and so you move on to the next band to keep your superior musical listening status in check.

Just because your favorite pretentious artsy indie-prog-core bands like to be put on a high pedestal for you to judge doesn’t mean a band like Pennywise should be judged in that same regard. They’re just a simple punk band sticking to their sound having fun playing the type of music that they like to play. They’re not out there trying to change the music scene or break any musical boundaries; they’re just out playing fast and energetic punk songs. Don’t you think they notice that all their albums sound the same? Do you think they care? I don’t know where I’m going with this but I just think a lot of the criticism they get is pretty laughable since they’re not out there trying to win any new fans with the latest trend or anything like that, they’re just out there playing shows and putting albums out for whoever still enjoys listening to them and it's as simple as that.

Hey guys, stop doing what you guys love doing and have lived for all your lives because some guy online said you guys should "hang it up" because you don't live up to his high musical standards. Boy, what a logical point that is.

Godfather (October 2, 2005)

screw you guys, i love this album

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

1. Full Circle
2. Unknown Road
3. everything else is debatable except for "Land of the Free", "From the Ashes", and "The Fuse" cause those albums were just horrible.

Dante3000 (October 2, 2005)

This is probably my least favorite Pennywise album up to that time. It wasn't bad but it didn't sound anything like the Pennywise I had known and loved and it seems like ever since then they've been trying to get back to the Full Circle days. I don't know, maybe I'm all wrong but I didn't like this album at all.
-Dante

theundergroundscene (October 2, 2005)

i stopped listening to this band in 8th grade, just like everyone else

wehavecomeforyourchildren (October 2, 2005)

i bought this album when it came out. it sucked then, it sucks now.

by the way, millencolin weren't playing ska in '99, the offspring had already released two albums since smash, and no one EVER gave a fuck about gob.

Godfather (October 2, 2005)

that was a great album....probably their best work

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