Lagwagon - Putting Music In Its Place [Box Set] (Cover Artwork)


Putting Music In Its Place [Box Set] (2011)

Fat Wreck Chords

FULL DISCLOSURE:: In buying the Putting Music in Its Place box set, it was in many cases my third time buying each album across different formats. Which is to say, I'm a pretty big Lagwagon fan (or, I'm pretty bad with money. Perhaps both). But, that's really who this collection is for--big Lagwagon fans. I can't conceive of a scenario where a novice or even casual listener would want to dive so deeply into a band's catalogue as to buy such a set, save for maybe one of those generational music bequeathings as seen in the film Almost Famous (or as suggested on the band's last proper release I Think My Older Brother Used to Listen to...). Either way, Lagwagon's first five albums, all remixed and remastered with about a dozen or so bonus tracks each, have never been more conveniently packaged than in this handsome box set.

If you were into punk in the '90s, chances are you've heard these records. From Lagwagon's speedy skate punk beginnings with Duh and Trashed, to what many people consider their best work in Hoss, to their more somber, moody turn with Double Plaidinum and the late '90s classic Let's Talk About Feelings, their style only got refined and nuanced as time went on, while never losing its intensity.

The bonus material includes demos and alternate takes, but is largely padded out with previously released songs heard on the Let's Talk About Leftovers collection. But, it is completely in line with the re-issue aspect of this collection and actually benefits from being divided into the context of their respective albums and time frames. That's not to say there aren't a handful gems here, such as the acoustic EP that accompanies Feelings, or the band's first demo as "Section 8."

I'm generally not a fan of bands giving their music the George Lucas treatment: re-recording, remixing, remastering--any meddling with songs I already love. "Remixed and Remastered" usually means either "made slightly louder" or revisionist history "tweaks" that are more for the performers' benefit and rarely improve the song. Which is why I'm happy to report that while many of the songs are noticeably polished, very few are jarringly so. It's done tastefully and doesn't compromise the originals.

I opted for the colored vinyl version of the set, which really got the deluxe treatment. Every album has a gatefold sleeve, with one record containing the album and another containing the bonus tracks, and each record colored to match the color scheme of the albums artwork. Also included is a repressing of the band's first seven-inch for Fat and a DVD of live footage. Perhaps the highlight is 1997's Double Plaidinum, which is pressed on an amazing picture disc that re-creates the record from the commemorative plaque on the original back cover. It's this sort of attention to detail that makes this package worthwhile to fans and collectors.

If you're in the market for a Lagwagon box set, chances are you've already heard or own the majority of what's here. But, if you're the type of person who will replace a VHS with a Blu-ray of the same movie, something like this isn't much different. That said, classic or not, with a CD, 10-inch, mp3s and now gatefold LP in my collection, I don't need any more copies of Let's Talk About Feelings, ever.