The Blue Meanies were a very special band. Each time you heard a Blue Meanies album, you really had no idea what you were in for. Pave the World was a strong debut and Kiss Your Ass Goodbye was even stronger. The Blue Meanies would hit their peak though with 1997's Full Throttle, which was re-released in 2005. Everyone expected them to take their crazy sound further, but no one expected them to take it as far as they did on Full Throttle, an album so ridiculous, intense and off the wall as it is intelligent and fun.
The opening to the album is a drum roll accompanied by a quick, circusy hornline which quickly kicks in to a mix of fast noise. The song, "The 4th of July" manages to change speeds and directions more times than you can count and it really shows how the rest of the album is going to be. The first thing you will notice is the amazing musicianship. Everything is spot on, to the awesome sounding horn players, to the ridiculously good rhythym section, to the cool vocals of Billy Spunke. The thing that makes this album work so well is that it manages to be both pretty different and with some awesome catchy hooks. "Get Nowhere" will get stuck in your head for days while the chorus to "Smash the Magnavox" is an awesome sing-along. There's all this while they move at lightning fast speeds for about 90% of the run. The album rarely slows down, but when it does you will see they nail their ska parts effectively too, such as in the chorus of "Send Help," but we already knew that from their previous albums.
The topics of the song vary from condemning American lifestyle and how it's portrayed on television in "Smash the Magnavox" to sex in "Smother Me" to feeling like a lesser person in "The Infidelity Song." The lyrics are consistently intelligent and go with the music perfectly. Billy Spunke also has an awesome delivery with his stuff that is both unique and fitting.
The re-release adds some awesome stuff. We get three bonus songs that are a great addition. None of them are really as close in greatness as the original stuff, but when the original stuff is already golden, then that's kind of hard to complain about. The biggest thing, though, is how it sounds. This album sounds incredible. Everything is much more crisper and clearer. It adds a new level to the intensity of the album. Some of the differences are pretty big too, such as in the aformentioned "Get Nowhere" where they removed the guitar from the intro. Changes like this are dispersed around the album and they're all for the better. I can't even listen to the old songs after hearing the re-release.
The Blue Meanies definitely demonstrated that they were one of the most interesting and talented bands of not just the ska scene, but of their time. They followed up this album with their major label debut, The Post Wave, that unfortunately gets way more shit than it deserves and immediately preceded the band's breakup (with an eventual reunion here and there).
This album, though, is a complete demonstration of their sound and I think is what most people think when they hear their name. There's a reason why they are one of the bands remembered highly from their time and scene. The only bad things I can say about this album is that it probably isn't for everyone. I can see people saying "this sounds like a carnival on crack," which is totally understandable. Also, I was never a fan of the last track, "F.O.R.D.," even though every other track is indispensable. Either way, if you even slightly like this band this is a must-own album and is definitely worth checking out. If you have the original copy, and were on the fence about the remastered, it's definitely worth it.
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