I've got the feeling that many other people who got into Good Riddance in the mid-`90s eventually expanded their tastes and moved onto new bands and styles of punk rock. While I've always made sure to grab the latest Good Riddance releases, none of their albums have really struck a lasting chord with me in the last six or seven years. I know I can't be the only one.
Perhaps one of the reasons Good Riddance has decided to call it a day -- besides having a long and successful run -- is that punk rock is not the same beast it was when they started or when they reached their peak. The punk community has left many of the bands from Good Riddance's time behind, save for the few that have gone on to wider success and the people that remain blindly loyal to Fat's catalogue, although it has been incredibly strong the last few years.
Though no matter how far I may have strayed from Good Riddance, it's hard to forget what they did for me musically. As a teenager in a small town outside of Toronto, there weren't a lot of opportunities to expose oneself to alternative politics or music. Good Riddance was a gateway into progressive thought and an easy introduction to punk and hardcore. Despite having not spent any good time together in ages, it's always nice to see a good friend off, which is the opportunity Good Riddance provides us with their most recent and final album.
Remain in Memory documents Good Riddance's last show, in their hometown of Santa Cruz, California. Of course, the majority of the band's fans, new and old, could not attend. Presenting the show in its entirety is a nice gesture from the band, allowing those who would have liked to have gone but could not, the opportunity to at least get a feel for what went down the night it was recorded.
For the most part, the album succeeds in this respect. Remain in Memory captures the whole show, not just highlights and is not comprised of songs recorded on different nights. This also serves as one of the album's drawbacks, though. At 30 songs, the set is just too long for anyone but a diehard fan to really stay interested in the whole time. It helps that all of their best songs are represented and spread apart enough to pull you back in, but an hour-plus of Good Riddance is simply too much. Sure, you could say "Dude, this was the last chance for the band to play these songs. You'd want to hear 'em all if you were into them." True, I would want to hear each of these songs if I was a super-fan, but as a casual listener, I would have rather heard an abbreviated set list. It's alright, though. 30 songs were recorded and it's 30 songs we get.
Thankfully, this leaves plenty of room for the band's best songs to be played. "Mother Superior," "United Cigar," "One for the Braves," "Weight of the World" and more all make strong appearances. It's easy to forget over time just how many great songs the band wrote and how most of them have stood the test of time and still stir up the same emotions as they did when first heard. The long set list also allows for the band's entire discography to be fairly represented. Songs from throughout the band's 15+ years of recorded output made the cut and none overbearingly so.
Remain in Memory spent quite a bit of time in the mixing and mastering stage, leaving the final product as polished as you'd want a live album to be. The end result is a live album with songs sounding balanced and clean, but with enough of the live spirit and vocal/musical changes remaining to make sure you don't forget you're listening to a live song. The crowd's applause is raised in between songs and where appropriate and their singing along is noticeable, such as on the band's anthem "Mother Superior."
I'm probably not going to put this album on to listen to in its entirety now that this review is completed. But I'm certainly going to make sure that a number of tracks from it make their way into iPod playlists for a long time to come. It would have been nice to have been treated to a DVD as well, which I thought was planned all along. But then again, I probably wouldn't watch that more than a few times, either.
One thing I am thankful of after hearing this is being reminded how much I love the chorus of "One for the Braves" or how much "Heresy, Hypocrisy and Revenge" meant for me the first time I heard it. There are a number of these moments peppered through out this CD and every listener is going to find their own.
In the end, one can't fault the band for presenting as comprehensive a farewell package as they could reasonably provide. It's just too bad that such a product doesn't always make for easy listening.