Ah, the early `90s. Pop-punk before the explosion of Green Day and the Offspring. Long before the bastard children of Ben Weasel and the Ramones morphed into dreck like Blink (yes, they sucked before they were Blink-182). Weasel-core and Ramones-core bands littered the 'zines with mailorder ads. You could order from Lookout! Records on a Monday and have a nice wrapped package waiting in your mailbox by Friday (from NorCal to central California, granted). But, times were good. The "elites" of the genre were all at the top of their game with bands like Screeching Weasel, the Queers, the Vindictives, and the Mr. T Experience (although, personally, MTX was never my cup of tea).
The Lillingtons were always among those lower echelon mid-to-late `90s pop-punk bands populated with with competent (and even pretty darn good) peers like the Groovie Ghoulies, Sloppy Seconds, Squirtgun, et. al.
While being one of my favorite "lesser" pop-punk bands, the early Lillingtons sometimes came dangerously close to being a straight-up Weasel/Queers "homage" band. They didn't really come into their own until 1999's Death by Television (originally released on Ben Weasel & John Jughead's Lookout! Records imprint, Panic Button, and soon to be reissued, along with the okay but rather lackluster followup, Backchannel Broadcast, by Red Scare Records -- coincidentally enough, the home of Lillingtons vocalist/guitarist Kody's new band, Teenage Bottlerocket).
Technically Unsound, a 3-CD box set, collects the Lillingtons' early, long out-of-print material (original copies of the Shit Out of Luck LP and CD -- with artwork by the Queers' B-Face -- have been selling as high as $45 on eBay, which likely contributed to the recently reconstituted Clearview Records putting this release together). And, speaking of eBay, that seems to be the only place you can even pick one of these box sets up, or at a Teenage Bottlerocket show.
The box set contains a new mix of Shit Out of Luck (done by Mass Giorgini of Sonic Iguana), the original mix of the album, the tracks from the Nothing Cool split 10", the Lost My Marbles 7" (recorded by and featuring backup vocals from Joe Queer), material recorded for the never-released Stupid World 7", and 12 live tracks.
But, why does it say "www.clearviewrecords.com" on the back when there is not even a domain name registered for that URL?
The numbered, limited edition metal tin version with CDs signed by the band are likely already long gone (limited to 50 copies). If you can find one, the collector nerd in you should be more than pleased. The 22 gauge silkscreened metal tin is a nicely put together package, but at $50 a pop, it was a steep price to pay for simply a nifty metal case. The regular edition comes in a plastic box set ($15), but it is also limited (to 1000 copies, with 25 signed copies having been available).
For fans who discovered Kody through Teenage Bottlerocket, this could be a place to discover his earlier work, but I would highly recommend starting with Death by Television if that is your goal. When I first heard Teenage Bottlerocket, I described them as a Riverdales version of the Lillingtons, as in how the Riverdales were a much more Ramones-ish version of Screeching Weasel. So, flip that analogy and you'll have a decent idea of what the early Lillingtons material is all about.
For later Lillingtons fans who could never track this stuff down, now you can get it all in one place in a nice package. The remixed version of the album sounds great, and the sound quality on the Jam Room live tracks blew me away (WAY better than I was expecting to hear). The unreleased and demo stuff is typical of unreleased and demo stuff (if you're a hardcore fan, it sounds great and you'll likely find it interesting -- I enjoyed it, but casual fans can probably do without it).
All in all, a very nice, great-sounding package, but I would hope down the road they'll release the remixed album with at least the Nothing Cool split and 7" tracks as a regular single CD release. Since there is obviously a demand for Shit Out of Luck, I would hope someone would have the good sense to get it back into print and make it available at a reasonable price.
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