Green Day


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Shenanigans is the companion piece to 2001's International Superhits. Where that compilation collected Green Day's singles, this rounds up the B-sides and such ephemera as soundtrack compilations, gathering the best (plus the new "Ha Ha You're Dead") for a 14-track trek through the band's alternate history. Now, any serious rock listener knows that B-sides don't necessarily mean subpar material, and such '90s bands as Oasis and Suede have had B-sides every bit as good as the material that made the official albums, and their subsequent B-sides albums have been gems in their discographies. This is largely because both bands had prime periods where everything they did pretty much turned to gold. Green Day never quite had an equivalent prime period. After they made their mark with Dookie, they maintained a high level of quality, constantly expanding their vision and refining their craft with each album, but they never had a time where they burned so brightly they couldn't fit all the great songs onto the proper albums and had to spill 'em out over the B-sides. Green Day knew what their best songs were, and apart from "J.A.R.," which they threw out to the Angus soundtrack, they kept 'em on the albums, and they turned out material for B-sides largely because they had to; that was the game in the '90s -- you had to make sure the multi-part singles in the U.K. had unique material, and if a soundtrack came calling, you had to ante up. So, the songs that comprise Shenanigans are an appealing mixed bag since they were, by and large, songs Green Day finished because they had to. Since they're an excellent, restless band, there's variety here -- bits of surf rock, classic British Invasion, classic British punk, and singalong pop -- nothing is less than enjoyable, and some of it is quite good. But it's never terrific, revelatory, or amazing, giving the dedicated fans songs they just can't live without (to reduce it to the Oasis/Suede terms, no "Acquiesce," no "My Insatiable One"). It's fun, to be sure, especially for the fans who are the compilation's target audience, but everything here sounds like the classic definition of B-sides -- good and familiar, but not as good as what made the album. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

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