The top three ska-punk releases of all time, in no order, are as follows:
1. Operation Ivy - Energy [I doubt anyone would argue with this]
2. Less Than Jake - Hello Rockview [for me, at least, but you'll get a lot of people saying either "Pezcore" or "Losing Streak"]
3. Slapstick - any fucking thing they put out.
Slapstick was fucking great. I mean really, really great. I just pulled out this CD tonight after a very long day, gave it the old dusting off [as it had been a long time since it had taken a ride in my stereo], and cranked the volume knob up. From "There's A Metalhead In The Parking Lot" to "Alternative Radio," this is the comprehensive Slapstick anthology, containing everything they ever recorded. Too bad they don't have anything else in the archives, as I would gladly buy another disc or two of this stuff.
For those of you who honestly have never heard of this band, let me throw down some other names: ever heard of the Alkaline Trio, Tuesday, The Honor System, The Broadways, The Lawrence Arms? They *all* have members dating back to Slapstick. Hell, probably half of Asian Man's catalog is Slapstick-related in some manner. This band changed the way people looked at ska music, just like what Operation Ivy did almost a decade earlier. Brendan's ferocious [if slightly off-key] vocals coupled with his incredibly insightful lyrics for his age made this band stand tall over the rest of the Chicago punk scene in the mid nineties. When you add the insanely talented rhythm section of Dan Andriano [bass] and Rob Kellenberger [drums], plus a horn section that never ever sounded out of place, it seemed like everything this band came near turned to gold. Songs like "Johnny," "There's A Metalhead In The Parking Lot," and "Ed" are big standouts among a sea of choice cuts, all containing the straightforward punk vibe that later bands like the Broadways contained along with the rare ska element that actually fitted with the music. So many ska bands seem to treat their horn section as a burden instead of an asset. This band used every member to their fullest advantage, with pretty much everyone contributing to vocals at some point. Slapstick could have signed to a major label; the offers were there. Slapstick could have stuck around longer than they wanted to; the fanbase was there. Slapstick could have been the kings of the world; they settled for being the kings of the Fireside Bowl. My only regret is never getting to see them live. I was actually in Chicago the day of their reunion shows and still didn't go [it's a long story]. If you had the chance to see Slapstick, I assume you took full advantage and got to witness a life-changing band first hand. If you're one of the unlucky like myself, go buy their video from Asian Man and pick up this discography. It's one of the few things that will actually get this fat old man skanking like he was in 9th grade all over again.