Tracks 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 16 only
Released October 31, 2005
24 min, 14 sec
Yesterday, I mentioned that I was very selective with what pre-2003 blink-182 I indulged in. Above, you can see that I am indeed very, very selective.
The tracks above represent, generally, what I think to be the best of pre-2003 blink-182, from 1994 through to 2001 (with the previously unreleased track “Not Now” stemming from the 2003 blink-182 sessions). The reasons are pretty simple – they’re big radio singles, they’re not too juvenile, and they’re all either really catchy or incredibly well-written.
“Adam’s Song” in particular is certainly one of the highlights of blink’s catalogue, partially from the shock factor of being such a serious, mature song right in the middle of Enema of the State, but primarily because it’s just really good. The lyrics imply suicidal thoughts as the subject goes about mundane tasks, including touring with a band, repeatedly expressing the desire to be alone, as well as resentment and regret.
As for the other ones, “Dammit” is quite catchy, and a good representation of the pre-Travis Barker era of blink, showcasing Mark Hoppus’s hilariously high-pitched voice in the early 1990s. “What’s My Age Again?” is in a similar vein to “Dammit,” being a Hoppus-fronted song about the frustrations of growing up, something that blink-182 had become familiar with as their songwriting began to shift towards a more adult sound and theme.
“Man Overboard” is about original drummer Scott Raynor. Originally recorded for Enema of the State, it’s possible that the transparent subject matter resulted in it being dropped from the album, as Enema was the first album recorded without Raynor, and the song may have been seen as too aggressive, considering the band fired Raynor for being an alcoholic. The band essentially puts the blame on Raynor for constantly being drunk and relying on the band for support, conveyed through a break-up metaphor in the song. Raynor had indeed put the band in a rough spot; he cited a family emergency and skipped out on a short tour, forcing blink to recruit future drummer Travis Barker to fill in. Following Raynor’s return, his alcoholism created major, unworkable tension in the band, resulting in DeLonge and Hoppus delivering an ultimatum to Raynor: sober up or get fired. Raynor agreed to get clean; however, the band fired him anyway, something that Raynor would later agree with, noting that they were perfectly in the right. The track was finished and released on The Mark, Tom and Travis Show, the band’s first live album, as a studio recording.
“The Rock Show,” yet another Hoppus original, was written after sessions for Take Off Your Pants and Jacket had been completed. The band’s manager felt that the album lacked a strong, enjoyable single, and DeLonge and Hoppus went home and wrote a song each in one night, bringing them in and recording both the next day. DeLonge’s track was the sincere “First Date”; Hoppus’s “The Rock Show” is generally seen as being a sarcastic stab at what their manager had wanted, being overly cliché and insincere in its generic lyrics about meeting an unforgettable girl at a rock concert. Nevertheless, blink’s manager knew what he was talking about; both tracks became the most successful of Take Off Your Pants and Jacket‘s singles, fueling the album’s high sales.
“Stay Together for the Kids,” though sung primarily by Hoppus, with DeLonge providing the chorus, is an autobiographical DeLonge track about his parents’ divorce. Tapping into the band’s younger demographic, the song nevertheless is about a serious topic, and keeps that serious tone all throughout, with the emotion in DeLonge’s voice clearly illustrating the unpleasant memories he has about the topic. Interestingly, Hoppus co-opted the song in 2009 as a metaphor for the band’s break-up and subsequent reunion.
“Not Now,” as mentioned above, is a holdover from the blink-182 sessions, left off the album for unknown reasons. It’s a good, catchy track, and it would have been right at home on blink-182, touching on most of the same subjects that that album did; relationships, and the desire to hold things together.
The album as a whole, when factoring in the tracks that I don’t have, serves as a strong conclusion to blink-182’s career up until that point, even though it is light on tracks prior to 1994’s Dude Ranch, the band’s major label debut. Like most greatest hits albums, it isn’t necessarily worth it for a dedicated fan, but it serves as a great primer for casual fans or people who wanted to get into blink-182 in 2005 following their break-up. That’s all a greatest hits album is, after all – a sales pitch.
A note about sequencing:
– No, Greatest Hits does not start with B. But, as you may have noticed, iTunes lists the album with the band name in front of Greatest Hits. This is also the case with Foo Fighters’ Greatest Hits album, which is also in my library. Because of the iTunes title, I’m covering it now, and also because I have the next couple of weeks planned out in regards to Specials and I don’t want to screw any of that up by moving this album around. I’ll categorize it as a “G” album in the directory, however, in the name of accuracy.