Face to Face - Big Choice (Cover Artwork)

Face to Face

Big Choice (1995)

Victory Music

When someone says "..best punk records of all time", the normal, acceptable reaction is to go straight for the standards: London Calling, Complete Discography, Suffer, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, Ramones, etc., etc. But rarely do we see someone step up and say something controversial and, well, almost crazy. Here we go!

"Big Choice" was Face to Face's second full length album, released on their own record label, after a short stint on Dr.Strange Records and Fat Wreck Chords. "Dont Turn Away", the bands debut, is number one on my "all time listened to" list. Face to Face was a three peice at that time, and although "Don't Turn Away" was a beautiful standard for all melodic punk, it did have a simplicity to it that left room for improvement. After some lable troubles, Face to Face added another guitarist and released "Big Choice".

The album is faster, in general, than "Don't Turn Away". In fact, its probably the bands fastest material to date. The second guitar fills in the sound with more melody than ever thought possible, and Trevor's vocals are, as usual, a punk rock treat. Perfect backing vocals are found in nearly every song, adding just enough harmony. This is the first album where the bass lines really stand out, breaking the stereotypical "simple" bass boundries that usually get stuck to socal skate- punk bands. The lyrics are life related and well written, pervaing messages of self dependence, betrayl, and questioning the world. Not to be left out of the talent smorgasboard are the drums. Complicated rolls and fills mixed with solid, lightning quick beats hold the pace with a strong grip. The predictable norm that melodic punk has sucumbed to lately is nowhere to be found here, with stops, light moments, samples and effect changes to keep the listener attentive and on edge at all times. Every element of the band is at its peak performance on "Big Choice".

This record poised Face to Face for their major label jump. I didn't even care that they moved to A&M Records on the following release because of the sheer perfection of "Big Choice". The majors obviously saw what I saw in Face to Face, the potential to become one of the greatest and well loved punk bands of our time. The simplicty of "Don't Turn Away" and the few sub-par songs on "face to face" kept them from being held as high as "Big Choice" in my book. This record is a modern masterpiece, and hopefully will get the recognition it deserves when kids decide to write a record review of their favorite punk album, 20 years from now.