Reviewing a compilation is always odd, because it’s not a band that worked on creating an entire album, but a collection of songs from a variety of bands, thrown together, usually to capitalize on a genre and make some extra cash for the label. Nonetheless, a good compilation feeds off the notoriety of the more popular bands to help sell the album, therefore getting listeners inadvertently into the lesser known bands on the comp.
In that sense, PROTECT is a good compilation. It uses names like Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba, MxPx, NOFX, Anti-Flag, and, of course, Against Me! to promote the album to punk fans. While none of the other bands are complete unknowns, it might have been a harder sell without the big names. For a good compilation that flows well from song to song and offers a wide variety of punk music, I’d give it an 8.
In addition, I give it an extra point for including 15 previously unreleased tracks out of the 26 total. How many times do we get compilations full of tracks we already know, just piled together? How many times are the “previously unreleased tracks” nothing more than a reworked version of an older song? PROTECT delivers with some new music, and on top of all this, the music is of good quality.
The comp opens with Matt Skiba’s “Demons Away,” which is the creepy and demented Matt Skiba everyone would expect. From there it goes into “Broken Heart’s Disease” by MxPx, which isn’t incredible, but it’s nothing a true fan wouldn’t like to have in their collection. NOFX contributes “Leaving Jesusland,” and Tim Barry’s “Idle Idylist” offers a condemnation of our consumer-driven culture. Did I mention Against Me! is on this album? I can’t see anyone complaining about that. It’s even been suggested to me that I give this album an 11 because of them. I don’t know about that, but “Wagon Wheel,” written by Bob Dylan, is definitely an Against Me! track. Is there anything else I can say?
But didn’t I give this album a perfect 10? Oh yeah, another bonus point is for the cause. If you aren’t familiar and wonder why the album is called what it is, here’s your explanation. Fat Wreck Chords and Punk Voter got together to help the National Association to Protect Children. The organization is hyped up as a positive force of punk, with the single goal of protecting children from abuse. It is non-partisan, but uses the political arena to get its job done. There is more information on Protect.org if anyone is interested in further supporting the organization. All the bands that have contributed to this album believe in the cause, as it does read “All profits from this CD will be given to Protect.”
I’m sure if there’s just a band or two you like and want their unreleased tracks, you can probably find them somewhere on the Internet. However, if you are legitimately going to pay for only one record this year, it should be this one. There is nothing bad to say about this. The music is great, the variety is wonderful, and the cause is honorable…did I mention Against Me!? It’s definitely worth the price. Plus, you’d kind of be an asshole for stealing from charity. Heathens.