Fat Wreck Chords


Written by: PP on 20/12/2009 20:35:30

The "Fat Music" compilation series was a great way to discover new music (well, punk rock) before the internet took over, much like the concurrently running Epitaph's "Punk-O-Rama" series. I've discovered some of my favorite bands through the series (Lagwagon, Propagandhi, No Use For A Name amongst others) and felt saddened when it was discontinued after the sixth volume in 2002. Well, prepare to meet its grandfather, "Wrecktrospective", the 20 year anniversary release from the punk label Fat Wreck Chords, featuring 88 tracks (I'm not kidding) spread over three hours, 45 minutes and three discs, a giant poster featuring the artwork of every fat wreck chord release, as well as a whole bunch of anecdotal stories from bands on how they got signed to Fat Wreck Chords in the first place. Guess what the best part is? You can get the whole box set for $15. Yeah, kinda puts all the other labels to shame, doesn't it?

Disc 1: Fattest Hits

Since this monster contains three discs, I figured it's best to divide the review into three separate sections. Disc 1, "Fattest Hits", features a song each from 33 different Fat Wreck bands, equivalent to watching the highlights from Champions League, except it lasts for an hour and 20 minutes and every goal is better than the one you just saw. Among the crowded field, you'll find some of the best punk rock tracks ever recorded; Lagwagon's "Violins", Anti-Flag's "Turncoat", No Use For A Name's "Soulmate", Rise Against's "Heaven Knows", Screeching Weasel's "Cool Kids", Against Me!'s "T.S.R", Descendent's "'Merican"....need I really go on? The truth is, if you don't find at least a third of these songs good, there's a reason to believe you don't qualify as a music fan. Punk rock may not be for everyone, granted, but there are enough decade-transcending songs on this greatest hits string to have at least a good-sized proportion to have appeal for anyone, especially when the list of bands continues with acts like Strung Out, NOFX, Good Riddance, Snuff, Sick Of It All, Less Than Jake, and The Lawrence Arms. However, if punk rock is your favorite genre, you might mistake yourself for being in dead and having entered paradise as a result. Maybe this should come with a warning label of some sort, for example "Warning: excessive amounts of amazing music included, may be hazardous to your ability to listen to other music"?

Disc 2: Demos

The second disc, "Demos", consists of 28 unreleased demos by many of the same bands that were included on disc 1, but also a whole bunch of others, including The Flatliners, Star Fucking Hipsters, and The Loved Ones. Most of these are rough, working versions of tracks that already exist, however, and in many cases they're far inferior to the real tracks. Rise Against's "Alive And Well", for instance, sounds horribly unfinished here in comparison to the album version. But on the flip side, there are a couple of tracks that sound better than the real ones, though I'll leave it for you to find out which.

Disc 3: Fat Club

If my memory serves right, when you subscribed to "Fat Club", you'd receive a monthly 7" vinyl featuring two or three tracks by a different Fat Wreck Chords band for the duration of twelve months. Disc 3 compiles all twelve releases of the series into a 27 track disc, again featuring some bands that have been on the other two discs, but also new ones who make a welcome appearance here, such as Strike Anywhere, Mxpx, and The Vandals. I couldn't find one bad track on this disc - especially The Real McKenzies and American Steel impress here - and considering most of these original tracks are extremely difficult to obtain legally, the disc is a great finish to a compilation that's worth every penny of the fifteen dollars it costs, and then some.

When combined together, "Wrecktrospective" offers 88 tracks by 51 different bands, many of these considered to be among the elite in the punk rock scene. So calling it the best possible Christmas gift for any punk rocker is in order, methinks. And even if you're just a music fan, your lips should be drooling at this point. Just look at the list of band names I've mentioned in this review, and that's only a fraction of the total. Sure, you could argue bands like Teenage Bottlerocket are missing alongside hits like "Linoleum", but at 88 tracks, I don't think anyone can seriously complain.

To sum up the disc and this review, if you're drawn toward bands like Rise Against, Anti-Flag, NOFX etc, and find yourself wondering how to most effectively check out more similar sounding bands, then "Wrecktrospective" is ideal for you. Even if you're a seasoned punk rocker like this scribe, chances are you'll still discover new stuff. For me, Goober Patrol, The Real McKenzies, Tilt and None More Black are all new acquaintances which this release has made me look forward to checking out properly. Rest of the music industry, take a minute - or three hours and 45 minutes - to learn a lesson from Fat Wreck Chords.


Download: Anything
For the fans of: Rise Against, NOFX, Bad Religion, Lagwagon, punk rock in general
Listen: Fat Wreck Chords' Myspace

Release date 01.12.2009
Fat Wreck Chords

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