Here's the last of the Asian Man Screeching Weasel reissues. I have to say these last two reissues (...Enemies and KTMM) have been pretty...(ahem) lackluster...efforts.
Off the top of my head, I can't think of any rarities/B-side compilations that are recommendable to anyone but the most hardcore fans, and this one isn't much different. Being one of those hardcore fans of Weasel, of course I own or have owned most of the original pressings and was pleased to get the CD when it was released in 1995. There are a few great tracks on here; I prefer the version of "Hey Suburbia" included here to the Boogadax3 version, for example, and "Radio Blast," "Around on You," and "Mary Was an Anarchist" are worth a listen, as are the live-from-Gilman tracks "Veronica Hates Me," "I Can See Clearly Now," "Supermarket Fantasy," and "Science of Myth."
If you have all the other pre-Emo albums and can't get enough of the band, I'd suggest picking this up next. Only the most hardcore of hardcore fans probably need the second collection, the 2xCD Thank You Very Little (the 2nd disc does feature a nice live set from 1993, originally bootlegged and released as Punk Rock Superheros). That boot wasn't as cool as the There's a Screaming Otter in My Pants bootleg, though, which captured a great show of the band at their peak.
The KTM reissue cover art and titles do look sharper and I do prefer the new CD "art." The arguably termed "brand new" artwork consists of a few new color photos along with some of the original photos now in color. The original CD artwork and a couple old photos included in Ben's original liner notes (one was of All Night Garage Sale, Ben and Jughead's pre-Weasel band) are no longer included.
As these tracks were already remastered in 1995, sound quality is not so much a concern when deciding whether to buy this version or track down the out-of-print Lookout! CD, which really shouldn't be too hard if you apply yourself.
Ben's in-depth History of Screeching Weasel essay has been replaced with a rather uninspiring lecture on how the bad old days aren't really worth commenting on. Short notes from Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio) and Matt Smith (Strike Anywhere) are also included, as well as a lenghty, sentimental essay from Mass Giorgini who eulogizes his late, cancer-stricken father in the context of his working relationship with Screeching Weasel over the years. While this is a nice essay with some interesting tidbits (the story about Ben's original vocals for "Kathy's on the Roof" was amusing -- think about it: "Kathy's on the roofagin"), it's not especially informative and not nearly as interesting as Ben's original liner notes, which Ben derides as "voluminous, rambling, and nonsensical." In fact, Mass's liner notes would have made much more sense had they been included in the barren Enemies reissue packaging.
Now I don't know about you, but I'd kinda like the guy putting out the records to know what he's talking about, so when Mike Park (Asian Man)'s liner notes talk about how much he loves rarities collections and how this collects a lot of great stuff, blah blah, and how it would be nice to "have the original CDs in your collection, but that's what eBay is for," it irks my fact-checker that none of the KTM tracks appeared on CD before the original release of KTM (as far as I know the tracks that were released were on various 7" releases and 10" or 12" vinyl compilations). Sure, it's obvious he meant the original vinyl pressings, but, c'mon. Is a little attention to detail too much to ask?
Perhaps most unforgiving however, is the lack of a list of which tracks came from which releases. Originally that information could at least be gleaned from the liner notes (or, from the discography that was included in the original pressing of ...Enemies -- also deleted from the reissue packaging). The recently relaunched www.screechingweasel.comhas an incomplete discography at the moment.
Some armchair QB'ing suggestions on what might have made this a more intersting reissue package (I'm just spitballing here):
Maybe original cover art from all the EPs and compilations would have made some nice, "brand new artwork" for the packaging.
The 4 songs from the Weasel Ramones cover LP now seem superflous now that the whole LP has been released on CD, and it would have been okay with me if they had deleted those 4 tracks to make room to include some other songs (maybe even the Formula 27 bonus tracks off the Ramones CD, even though they're not from the era represented on this collection). Perhaps "My Friends Are Getting Famous" or "Disgusteen," or the 7" EP tracks left off originally because as Ben said in the original liner notes: "They blow."
"My Friends Are Getting Famous" is off 1994's Punk USA compilation, compiled by Ben, which featured exclusive-at-the-time tracks from Screeching Weasel, Jawbreaker, Face to Face, the Queers, the Vindictives, Rattail Grenaider (Mass Giorgini's pre-Squirtgun band; basically Squirtgun with a different singer), and more.
"Disgusteen" was the title song to a really bad, super low-budget gay-vampire flick Ben wrote and directed that I'm sure he would love to forget ever happened (not sure how he feels about his appearance in Bruce LaBruce's gay porn film, "Super 8 1/2"). Ben recorded "Disgusteen" with Chicago's 8-Bark as his backing band. So, it's not Screeching Weasel, true, but from what I remember of the nth-generation VHS copy I used to have, the soundtrack wasn't terrible. Including the 7" version of "I Wanna Be a Homosexual" with Bruce LaBruce's intro would've been good, too.
Another possible inclusion of an out-of-print Weasel-related project was the Shotdowns, who released a 7" on Lookout Records. Ben did some A&R work for Lookout! and "found" them an old-school hardcore act from Maine. Lookout! bit on it and put out the 7". Turned out later it was actually Ben, Jughead, and Jersey Beat's Jim Testa.
Wouldn't have been good for Weasel purists maybe, but would've been some nice added value.
Original Release: 8/10