NOFX - Backstage Passport Soundtrack (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Backstage Passport Soundtrack (2014)

Fat Wreck Chords

Many of us have grown up, and even grown old with NOFX. Some of us still eagerly anticipate each new major release. NOFX has always been good over the years at giving fans plenty of music between proper LPs. Two live albums and a slew of EPs and compilation tracks have given followers a lot to chew on, and this record continues in that tradition. Backstage Passport Soundtrack is supposed to be a musical companion to the Backstage Passport documentary series, which aired its second season earlier this year. Backstage Passport chronicles the band as they travel to out of the way, third world places to play shows. These are full-length versions of songs used in snippets on the show. Truthfully, this is a collection of musical odds and ends, mostly from the 2008 era of the show's first season. These types of compilations tend to be uneven in nature, and this is no exception.

The song "Backstage Passport" opens the album. It's a metallic NOFX jam that could have come from the Ribbed era. The lyrics feel tacked on and forced. "Punk Rock Passport" closes the record with a slightly different version of the same song. "No Fun in Fundamentalism" is a solid song that would have been at home on Wolves in Wolves' Clothing. "Insulted by Germans (Again)" is one of the three songs here that actually follow the record's theme. The other two are "All My Friends in New York" and "The Greatest Country in the World," a less than flattering ode to South Africa. "You Will Lose Faith" is an acoustic version of the song from Wolves. It's not bad, but the mellower take doesn't really add much emotional impact. (Listen to the acoustic version of "My Orphan Year" for an example of when this works). "Leaving Jesusland" is a good sounding live version of one of the best songs from Wolves.

"Teenage Punching Bag," "Fan Mail" and "Last Night was Really Fun" are the biggest gems here for fans. The latter of the three would have fit in on Coaster. It's a classic NOFX song about the lighter side of drug and alcohol abuse. "We're Bros" is a silly little tune that will grow on you. "Your Hubcaps Cost More than My Car" is inferior but thematically similar to "The Man I Killed," also from Wolves. "I Melvin" is a polka version of yet another song from Wolves. If you've seen NOFX live in the last couple of years, you've probably heard "Arming the Proletariat with Potato Guns." It's an upbeat number driven by El Hefe's excellent trumpet playing, complete with pauses for telling (not very) racist jokes. It's amusing, but not something you'd want to hear more than a couple times.

The Longest EP and 45 or 46 Songs That Weren't Good Enough For Our Other Records were successful attempts at compiling various NOFX tracks. While those records had some filler, they had lots of good stuff too. This is a little light in the good stuff department. This would have been a good five minute EP, but when stretched to LP length (33 minutes), the material proves to be a bit thin. On the plus side, Backstage Passport Soundtrack has a raw, minimalist production that will appeal to older fans. Unfortunately, even the best songs here probably could have benefited from a little more work.

These are the lyrics that end the record: "Sketchy drugs and shows for rubber checks/We don't try very hard we're NOFX." Fat Mike and company's self-deprecating humor is the thing that fans most love about the band, but it's only funny if it's not true. This really does feel lazy. A lot of people, myself included, will still run out and buy Backstage Passport Soundtrack for the handful of new NOFX songs. We'd be better off just staying home and listening to our well worn copies of S&M Airlines.