This album is about as useful as the appendix.
Good ol’ ska-punk poster boys Less than Jake return with a brand-new…oh, wait, it’s just a re-release. The band has finally decided to put out their previously Internet fanclub-only giveaway album Goodbye Blue and White (a reference to LTJ’s old blue and white tour bus,) a hot seller on eBay and other online auctions for years. Now that the record is available to the mass public, you’d think it would lose it’s once-majestic aura of specialty, as the heralded, rare gem has been degraded to Best Buy racks. But after actually listening to the album for which I’d been frantically scouring the Web for the last year, I found there wasn’t much of an aura of specialty there to begin with.
Goodbye is all b-sides and vinyl-only tracks, but there isn’t much here that hasn’t appeared on various compilations in the past. Five of the tracks appeared on the Pez Collection import, one track resided on the Scream 2 soundtrack, one highlighted a Warped Tour compilation, and another appeared on the Metalliska metal tribute album.
Not only has this material been hashed over before, the recordings are horrible. Gone are the soaring harmonies, fun lyrics, ecstatic horn section, and hooks that stick better than Bubble Yum that were so prevalent in their last two albums. The release of this album does nothing but damage their increasing credibility in the alternative rock scene and bring back terrible memories of their infamous Grease remakes.
Most of tracks are the band simply messing around in the studio with different genres of music and pointless ditties. Every band does this, but most have the decency to keep it someplace secret, forgotten about in a heavy-duty vault somewhere, away from society. But alas, Less than Jake flaunt them here. “Evil Has No Boundaries” and “Antichrist” are the band’s pathetic attempts at death metal….They might be covers, I don't know. The last three “songs,” if you choose to grant them such a generous label, are all and inane less-than-a-minute—a vocal-only rant, an acoustic ad jingle, and a K-ROQ radio teaser. Do we really need to hear this? What’s next, the band member’s middle school talent show auditions?
There are also enough butcherings on this record to start a meat-packing plant. They try to do a straightforward version of the Jam's "Modern World," which is decent comapared to the other re-makes. Their covers of “Teenager In Love” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” with Chris’ grovelly vocals screeching on top of basic chords and boring drums, remind me why I hate punk covers so much, such weak excuses for album space and recording time. These guys make the Ramones look like the most technical musicians on the planet. Worse yet, they didn’t even include their best cover—the horn-laden take on Duran Duran classic “The Reflex.”
Less than Jake also add alternative versions of “Cheez” and “Scott Farcas Takes it to the Chin,” (from 1998’s Hello Rockview,) “Rock ‘n’ Roll Pizzeria,” (from 1996’s Losing Streak,) and a version of “Dopeman” apparently remixed by the Beastie Boys. These are hardly different from the originals and they don’t even do the major label-released versions justice. But hey—if hearing a couple of notes longer and more off-key, an occasional guitar riff slightly more discordant, and out-of-place turntabling is your bag, then go for it.
The only worthy material here are the songs I already knew, the ones that have been infiltrating LTJ’s live sets for quite some time. "Mixology of Tom Collins" is just as good as anything from "Losing Streak," with all of the record’s anthemic charisma and unstoppable energy. “I Think I Love You,” and “Yo Yo Ninja Boy” are the most recent b-sides, and maintain the band’s current melodies and polished vocals the rest of this piece of work is desperately in need of.
Unless you’re a die-hard Less than Jake fan, don’t bother with this. But even if you are a die-hard Less than Jake fan…you probably have all this material anyway.