The Lawrence Arms - We Are The Champions Of The World: The Best Of (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Lawrence Arms

We Are The Champions Of The World: The Best Of (2018)

Fat Wreck Chords

There is no question that The Lawrence Arms have had quite the run in the nearly twenty years that they have been a band. Through out the years, the band has jumped from label to label releasing fantastic melodic punk tunes while mastering the art of two vocalists sharing and switching off lead singing duties. Even off the stage and out of the studio The Lawrence Arms have affected the modern punk scene in their own special ways like calling out the Warped Tour before it was “cool” to do so and even appearing on an episode of The Daily Show back when it was still a comedy show. But in all seriousness, the band has contributed a lot to the punk scene over the years and to commemorate that they have released a two-disc compilation called We Are The Champions Of The World: The Best Of.

What makes We Are The Champions Of The World: The Best Of such a great release is that it is truly representative of all of the band’s material from early to most recent in a span of twenty-four songs. From their Asian Man Records days this release includes tracks like “100 Resolutions,” “Sixteen Hours” and "An Evening of Extraordinary Circumstance.” There is also plenty of their Fat Wreck Chords material such as “The Devil’s Taking Names,” their classic anthem “Are You There Margaret? It’s Me, God,” “Demons,” “Porn And Snuff Films,” “The Rambling’ Boys Of Pleasure” and “Chapter 13: The Hero Appears.” And tracks like “Seventeener (17th and 37th)” and “Beautiful Things” are on this release as representatives of their most recent Epitaph Records material.

While the majority of the track list is a collection of songs from The Lawrence Arms’ different albums, the last five are previously unreleased tracks from when they recorded their fifth full-length Oh! Calcutta!. If you loved that record like many of us still do to this day, then chances are that you won’t be disappointed with any of these tunes. The song “Catalogue” is performed in classic Lawrence Arms fashion. Brendan Kelly’s takes command of lead vocals for the most part, but he does had them off to Chris McCaughan for the pre-chorus and then both of them join in together for anthemic chorus. What takes place in the track “Black Snow” is sort of the opposite of “Catalogue.” Chris not only takes on lead vocals, but Brendan’s vocals are nowhere to found. “Black Snow” is still very much a rowdy Lawrence Arms song on the musical side, but it does have this sense of gloom in the lyrics and in even in Chris’s voice.

If you’ve listened to Oh! Calcutta! all the way through before, then you have definitely heard the last track ”Warped Summer Extravaganza (Major Excellent),” which has this slow country sound to it. Well that wasn’t the only version of the song that the band recorded of it. “Warped Summer Extravaganza (Turbo Excellent)” is the hardcore version of it. It’s faster, much more aggressive and it has Brendan’s signature sharp, throaty screaming — and it absolutely rules. It’s probably the biggest surprise on this release.

Luckily, this was one of the few releases that came in the mail before submitting the review for it. The Lawrence Arms and whoever else helped put this compilation together did a fantastic job with the vinyl version. The limited, colored, mail-order variant comes in a very cool pair of discs. Sides A and B are on a gold with black splatter record and sides C and D are on a white with black splatter record. Apparently, there is a tour version that consists of two gold discs, too. It also comes as a high quality and sturdy gatefold with a huge picture of the band inside which is next to liner notes that talk about how they chose the track list, when and where the bonus tracks were recorded and the usual thank you’s, but written in their funny and sarcastic tone. The liner notes also mention that since all of the lyrics are printed in their other albums, so The Lawrence Arms took it upon themselves to write personal blurbs about each track. This all appears in the four-page booklet that is inside the second sleeve along with a digital download code. And finally, the yellow, black and white artwork that is thematic throughout the gatefold is done extremely well thanks to David Holtz and Eric Baskauskas, most notable when it comes to the booklet. Each song title has a symbol that corresponds with the album that it was originally released on. For example, The Greatest Story Ever Told is represented by a circus tent and the bonus tracks are represented by a headstone that reads “RIP.” Overall, the physical release for We Are The Champions Of The World: The Best Of  quite the work of art.

We Are The Champions Of The World: The Best Of is a fantastic release from the choice of songs to the physical piece itself. Long-time fans of The Lawrence Arms and record collectors will definitely enjoy it, especially when it comes to the newly-released bonus tracks. I would also say that if you are thinking about checking this band out for the first time, this is a great place to start.