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Screeching Weasel - Wiggle / Anthem ... / How to Make Enemies ... [reissues] (Cover Artwork)

Screeching Weasel

Screeching Weasel: Wiggle / Anthem ... / How to Make Enemies ... [reissues]Wiggle / Anthem ... / How to Make Enemies ... [reissues] (2005)
Asian Man Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: southpawnationsouthpawnation
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NOTE: For extended reviews and more discussion on remastering, see Southpaw Nation. First, let me address the notion of remastered albums. There have been some recent remastered reissues where I was immediately struck by how great they sounded (Rocket from the Crypt's Circa: Now! and the Bad Reli.


NOTE: For extended reviews and more discussion on remastering, see Southpaw Nation.

First, let me address the notion of remastered albums. There have been some recent remastered reissues where I was immediately struck by how great they sounded (Rocket from the Crypt's Circa: Now! and the Bad Religion reissues come to mind), and then there have been those that didn't strike me as anything special, but weren't botch jobs by any means (į la Green Day's 1,039 / Smoothed Out Slappy Hours reissue). Very rarely you get something completely amazing, like the Misfits' 12 Hits from Hell, which doesn't seem likley to ever be officially released.

The other point about remastered albums is that so-called "purists" may often be basing their purity standard on an original pressing that may not sound anything at all like what the artist originally intended. There is a difference between taking an old movie or record that was recorded in mono and artificially creating a stereo or 5.1 mix out of thin air and improving the master job on something that has high quality original masters, but, for whatever reason, lower quality mass production. Time and budget constraints, poor production work, and any number of pressing plant issues could be to blame, but a remaster job using the most up-to-date technology is generally an effort to make the pressed CDs (or vinyl or whatever) match the master mixdown that the artist/producer was happy with in the studio. We've all heard albums that sound like they were recorded at the bottom of a pool or in a metal trash can. Those are great candidates for remastering. From what I understand, you're looking to get a much richer, fuller sound with clarity enough to hear all the dynamics of a given recording.

Which brings me to the Screeching Weasel series of remasters. Overall, much like 90% of all remastered reissues, this series isn't worth rebuying simply for the remastered album. Nor would I recommend avoiding them in favor of the original pressings. If you've worn out your original copies, they're cheap enough that you might as well replace them with the new versions. And, if you're new to Screeching Weasel, I wouldn't discourage you at all from picking up the new versions. For newcomers to Screeching Weasel, I'd recommend starting with either (or both) Anthem for a New Tomorrow and/or My Brain Hurts. You might even be best served by picking up the Weasel Mania compilation off Fat Wreck.


Wiggle

Original release: 8/10
Remastered release: 8.5/10


Following up a perfect masterpiece of an album is tough for any band, so perhaps the let-down of Wiggle shouldn't have been totally unexpected. Wiggle is my least favorite "classic" Weasel album, yet still miles better than later disappointments like Emo and Teen Punks in Heat. There are some great songs on here like "Jeannie's Got a Problem With Her Uterus," "Sad Little Girl," "Slomotion," and "Teenage Slumber Party." But, something about this album just didn't quite work and I suspect it has a lot to do with this being the first album Mass Giorgini and Sonic Iguana produced.

However, this remaster is getting my "Most Improved" award, and is the only one I'm rating higher than the initial release. The artwork looks better, with the liner notes from the UK's Lindsay Hutton (The Next Big Thing) solid and good song commentary by Ben, Jughead, and Vapid. Along with the more "mature" packaging of all the new CDs, there seems to have come a new found modesty as well. Now, I'm just as happy to be spared gratuitous cockshots as the next red-blooded, heterosexual guy, but I was amused by the self-censorhip in the "new" (i.e., colorized) booklet photos. And was I not supposed to notice that one of the flyers in the art added to the booklet is a piece from The Onion that was done when Screeching Weasel reformed in 1997 and talks about Bark Like a Dog?

As for the bonus track, I've waited for years to finally hear Weasel reclaim "Fuck the World" like they did "Pervert at Large." "Fuck the World," however, was a disappointment. Co-written by Ben and Joe Queer, this is one of the best punk rock love songs ever written, and the Queers' version is reason alone to buy Love Songs for the Retarded. (Yes, Joe -- and the "Queers" -- should have hung it up long ago, but once upon a time they were really good.)

The recording included on the Wiggle reissue sounds kinda rushed, and it's probably no surprise this track has stayed under wraps for so long (the song did appear with alternate lyrics, as "Amy Caught Me Looking at Her Boobs," on the Thank You Very Little rarities/outtakes/demos compilation).

If you were hoping this bonus track was enough to make rebuying the CD worthwhile, I'd have to say, "eh, not so much." But, overall, this repackaging does the most to improve on the previous version. I can't put my finger on anything specific with the remastered sound, but I thought this one did sound a little better than the original.


Anthem for a New Tomorrow

Original release: 10/10
Remastered release: 10/10


A favorite of the band, fans, and me personally. SW was really firing on all cylinders with this release. Any 'best of' SW CD I've ever made for myself or to introduce someone to SW includes almost every song off this album. Includes cameos by NOFX's Fat Mike ("Peter Brady"), Jawbreaker's Blake Schwarzenbach and Joey Vindictive ("Anthem for a New Tomorrow"), and solid liner notes and song commentary.

The remastered version seems to again add clarity to the low end (particularly the bass lines) and do the standard loudness-level raising. The original (first anyway) CD pressing had a song track order error, which is now remedied (the track listing didn't match up to the song #'s after Track 5, "Talk to Me Summer." This could have been fixed on subsequent pressings of the CD, I'm not sure.) Again, some of the original packaging's "fun" is removed and a more straightforward presentation is used. Any way you slice it, though, this album is a must-have in any self-respecting punk rock collection.


How to Make Enemies and Irritate People

Original release: 9/10
Remastered release: 5/10

While I always enjoyed and listened to How to Make Enemies and Irritate People (the title refers to Dale Carnegie's best-seller How to Win Friends and Influence People), more so than say, Wiggle, it was still somehwat of a red-headed stepchild album. I'd listen to it when I'd worn out the Boogada x3 / My Brain Hurts / Anthem rotation I constantly had going. It's somewhat of an odds 'n' sods album Weasel put out just to record and release the last songs they had written after disintegrating during the short-lived Anthem for a New Tomorrow tour. As Vapid and Ben were on the outs, they enlisted Mike Dirnt (you might know him from some band called Green Day) to fill in on bass. It was intended to be their last release as they officially broke up the day it came out.

The discography included in the original CD booklet is gone, and all of the "fun" of the original packaging has been completely sucked out of this puppy (way more so than My Brain Hurts or Anthem). Gone are the fake song titles on the back of the album. I always liked those: "Planet of the Dupes," "Smurf Goddess," "I Hate Yer Nuts on Monday," Johnny Is that Beer?," "If I Was Hugh" (a nod to the late Queers drummer), "Da Genitals," and "I Wrote Ignatius J. Reilly."

FYI, "I Wrote Holden Caulfield" is a "response" song, in title, at least, to Green Day's classic "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?" (off Kerplunk!). At least, I always assumed it was. Holden Caulfield, of course, being the protaganist of J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, while Ignatius J. Reilly is the hero of John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces.

The cover art looks even more blurry than the original (this cover art was intended for the original My Brain Hurts release, but Lookout! was too cheap at the time to spring for a full-color cover). The original `50s sci-fi movie-style font has been inexplicably replaced with block text.

There are no real new liner notes (just a short paragraph from Ben) or song commentary (I just told you more than you'd find out from reading the new liner notes). And if you consider the photo contact sheet that comprises the "new, unreleased photos" worth having than by all means pick this up. But, there is no good reason to rebuy this, and if you can find the original Lookout! pressing used, a copy of that would suffice just as easily as the new release.

From the look of things, the motivation for putting solid effort into these re-releases had severely run out of gas by the time they got to this one. And there is still the two Riverdales reissues to go!

 

 
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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.
sean021122 (February 26, 2012)

"Wiggle" is amazing last stages of vital relevant screeching weasel, so buy it! "Anthem for a sucky tomorrow" is one of the biggest piles of monkey shit available for aural consumption. This is where screeching ben hit the fan. The one where they sold out, forever changed into mainstream pop sellout mediocrity crap. And they never recovered. This record is so unpunk like it is pathetic. All pop, gloss, sheen, overproduction, soulless lyrics, childish fat mike-ish whiny vocals, and a walmart/hot topic mall sound. It got even worse from each record on. But on 'television city dream' they actually woke up and made a good record. But on every other release from "anthem" on, weasel's legacy sank further into the proverbial dumpster... Or was it ben's toilet? Filled with quickly fleeting fame, groupies, cash, unfulfilled dreams, and youth. All gone and now all he can do is beat his "ben weasel" personna even further into the ground with his soul crushing hypocrisy, self righteousness and arrogance. Yes ben foster is the pop punk version of axel rose indeed! Oh and he's also very adept at punching defenselss women and abusing them in all other ways as well. He hates females, and everyone else who doesn't fit in his perfect society. I will still listen to all their stuff from "wiggle" and before. But this piece of shit went into my local music shop's $1 bargain bin a long time ago. If you want a more recent weasel sound that still actually has balls get 'television city dream'. Forget everythijng else that came after 'wiggle'!

Anonymous (March 9, 2006)

50% to the reviews, 95% to the reissues
who gives a shit what the artwork looks like? didn't your teachers say don't judge records by their covers? the point is, the how to make enemies and irritaate people didn't have enough liner notes from anyone, i would have loved to get mike dirnt's liner notes on that record. the remastered songs don't sound better than the original... i'd prefer the original really. as far as anthem goes, theres no possible way to make that record better through remastering, its original quality was perfect. but really, noweasel reord deserves a pedastul position over any other weasel record, i own them all... proudly, and personally, i think weasel is the most overlooked and underappreciated band in the history of music. ben weasel, johnny ramone, and kody lillingtons are the three most important people in punk history... gimme feedback if you disagree... fucker

Anonymous (February 18, 2006)

i'm a huge weasel fanatic, but i must say i've never understood the pedistal that so many people put "anthem" on. don't get me wrong, it has two of my absolute favorite SW songs ("i'm gonna strangle you" and "leather jacket"), but it also has the most filler of any of the lookout-era stuff. starting with "three sides" through "trance," i'm just waiting to get to "claire monet." i don't feel like any of those songs are essential at all.

ps. "television city dream" is their most underrated record hands down. forget what year it came out, its fucking great!

housewrecker (February 17, 2006)

Are there any unreleased songs added or it is the exact same songs remastered??? I love all 3 albums...but I still think My Brain Hurts is THE one.

Anonymous (February 14, 2006)

Emo was in no way a disappointment

somegirl (February 14, 2006)

Anthem For A New Tomorrow has been one of my all time favorite records for a while now. Would it really make a difference to buy the remastered versions if I'm going to listen to everything mostly from a mp3 player though? It's not as if I have crappy iPod headphones or anything, but there's still only so much a song's quality can improve when heard through them, I would think.

Anonymous (February 13, 2006)

The only problems I had with the My Brain Hurts reissue were that the lead guitar has too much treble and the whole thing is reverbed to shit.

FuckYouOiOiOi (February 13, 2006)

"I don't want Henry to sound in tune on Damaged, and I don't want Ginn's guitar to sound all nice and sparkly."

So fucking true. That album is perfect because of its flaws. Its just way more real that way, ya know?

Anonymous (February 13, 2006)

All of my SST stuff sounds just as crap on LP as on CD.

I think it's because Spot really didn't know how to produce bands besides really barebone live recordings.

It sounds better that way, though. SST records sound like live radio sessions. Hardcore/punk isn't really that big on utilizing studio magic... I don't want Henry to sound in tune on Damaged, and I don't want Ginn's guitar to sound all nice and sparkly. His guitar tone is PERFECT. It sounds like he turned the distortion and treble way up and everything else down. Why change that?

-Will

skolarx (February 13, 2006)

oh and as for what should be remastered, easily my top pick would be 24 hour revenge - it just sounds horrible when it comes on my ipod, like i have to turn it way way up. somery could use an update too

skolarx (February 13, 2006)

that sucks hearing that the weasel version of fuck the world isn't that good. its by far my favorite queers song and possibly close to my favorite song ever (only graceland by the ghoulies comes closeto topping it)

Nick_V (February 13, 2006)

I still haven't picked up "Anthem" yet. I should be ashamed.

Anonymous (February 12, 2006)

riverdale stomp baby, let's go!

rkl (February 12, 2006)

i guess i suck, or maybe ive just been corrupted, but i really dont give a damn about liner notes or packaging.
just sound. and i feel "enemies" to be weasel's strongest album, and givingit a 5 to be utter blasphemy.
im crying a bit.

Scruffy (February 12, 2006)

Also, Bill is right. SST. What I wouldn't give for an old Husker du album that doesn't sound awful.

TheOneTrueBill (February 12, 2006)

To the question below, I would remaster the entire SST Records back catalogue. They all sound so tinny and quiet on CD but on record they're so full.

Scruffy (February 12, 2006)

Bivouac or One Mississippi remastered would be excellent.

TheOneTrueBill (February 12, 2006)

By the time these came out, the only old Weasel albums I didn't already own were "Anthem" and "Enemies." One day I had My Brain Hurts and Anthem in the CD changer, and I had to actually walk up and turn it down becaue the mastering on Anthem was so much louder and more full than on the old "My Brain Hurts."

I think that's the highest compliment I can give these reissues.

PS - Weasel is a genius.

thecaptain (February 12, 2006)

Quality review, but you didn't mention anything about the sound quality on How to Make Enemies. I mean, you didn't just give it a 5/10 because of the liner notes, did you?

My Brain Hurts is the only one of these remasters that I own, and it sounds great.

On a side, if you guys could pick any album to be remastered, what would it be? I think Bigwig's "Unmerry Melodies" is way overdue.

fuzzy (February 12, 2006)

Nice call on the O'Toole reference.

Phantom_Maggot (February 12, 2006)

Really in-depth review, good job! I love Screeching Weasel and I agree that How to Make Friends...is very OK as an album, though it does contain 99 and I Hate Your Guts on Sunday which are two of my all-time Weasel Favorites. Anyone know where you ca find 12 Hits From Hell?

SlackMFr (February 12, 2006)

Dear Scruffy, I love "Message In a Beer Bottle" along with that whole record, but "My Brain Hurts" is untouchable, a definate punk classic.

fallingupwards84 (February 12, 2006)

weren't the Descendents the first ones to do the whole fake song titles thing with Enjoy!?

Dante3000 (February 12, 2006)

Strange that they kind of cleaned up and stream lined the packaging. I always assumed that was 90% of what made some of their albums so interesting.
Of course, losing most of My SW records fairly recently I might have to buy a couple of these. Or find the used originals.
-Dante

Scruffy (February 12, 2006)

Am I in a severe minority when I say I prefer to listen to Teen Punks In Heat? That album is awesome. Message In A Beer Bottle and Pauline are two of my favorite Weasel songs.

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