Sick Of It All - Nonstop (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Sick Of It All

Nonstop (2011)

Century Media

Greatest hits collections or retrospectives (for bands with no hits) are sort of a musical sin. They take you out of the context and out of the moment and leave you with a one night stand that you realize you're being charged for only after the fact. Sure you know you are being charged here but what is the cost? The REAL cost? Anyways, there are a few occasions when these things are okay: 1) the band generally didn't put out that much to begin with and it is all out-of-print so the collection serves an easy official document or 2) the band has some truly truly great songs but in order to find them you have to sit through a bunch of boring swill. Take the Cure for example (Don't come attack me with oddly shaped flowers or something Cure fans; I love the Cure but it's the truth). I thought these were the rules, but then comes Sick Of It All throwing me a curve ball, in that they've put together a career retrospective but re-recorded all the songs brand spankin' new! In recent years a few bands have gone the same route, notably Social Distortion and Reel Big Fish, usually the case is the band recorded these songs spread across many labels or labels they can't get the rights to so here we have it. Sick Of It All end up presenting a mixed bag as some of these tracks needed the fine tuning of a modern studio and bigger budget; others, not so much.

I hear the peanut gallery yelling "Bro! Don't touch the classics bro!" But honestly, while Blood, Sweat and No Tears is a hardcore classic, it sounds kind of booty when you play it next to something made today. When you want to listen to aggressive music, you don't want it to sound like it is muffled through couch cushions. Thankfully eight of the 21 songs on Nonstop originally come from Blood, Sweat and No Tears. And it might be blasphemy to some but each one sounds worlds more pissed off and awesome when compared to the LP recordings. It is kind of funny when you think about it though, because Blood, Sweat And No Tears was actually significantly made up of re-recorded songs from their first EP, Sick Of It All. I would say I think the best recording of ""It's Clobberin' Time" is on that EP but the one recorded for this collection is great too.

Y'know what isn't great though? The extra remix of "It's Clobberin' Time" on the end, that should have been saved for some KRS-One compilation or a second part to the Judgement Night soundtrack. The regular re-recorded version of "Clobberin' Time" does have the added coolness of having KRS-One redo his intro, and the Teacha sounds more powerful than ever.

The places where Nonstop miss the mark are where take something that made the original great and remove it. The songs still sound technically good but they are no longer special. Take "Sanctuary" for example. The original had a great deal of melody that really came through in the guitars but the band's hard and faster approach muddies things up a bit. To me the best part of the original version of "Busted" was the bassline during the intro to the song, but the version here buries it in the mix and removes what arguably made it stand out in the first place, thereby obscuring why it might be included on a band retrospective. A few of the songs like "Scratch The Surface" and "Relentless" don't sound all that different from the originals and without the novelty of the re-recording why exactly would any fan of the band listen to this?

I suppose it is impressive that after more than 20 years for some of these songs, virtually the same band can make them sound fresh. It is even more impressive when you think of how little SOIA's sound has changed over time. Nonstop will probably be a divisive album for fans but there should be at least something for everyone to enjoy here.