Fans will go crazy, the rest of us may be a little less keen.
Chris Jones 2008-05-16
With its faux-battered sleeve and go-go dancing logo you'd be right in thinking that Stop, Drop And Roll owes something to the 60s. As all fans now undoubtedly know, Foxboro Hot Tubs are, in reality, Green Day having a little retro fun on the side with their touring band along for the ride. Twenty-odd years on, the boys are as busy as ever, following a stamp-of-approval appearance in the Simpsons Movie in 2007. Much of this material was previously available free from the band's website but now, with an actual live tour in the offing, the album gets a proper physical release. Fans will go crazy, the rest of us may be a little less keen.
The problem with an album of pastiches is a question of authenticity. A comparable project would be the Dukes Of Stratosphear; in reality XTC on a mission to recreate the best psychedelic sounds from their youth. Their two albums really did sound like they'd fallen through a hole in the space/time continuum. But Green Day, arch proponents of the three-minute punk pop outburst, while attempting various stylistic variations here, only really convince on the tracks that, well, sound like Green Day (albeit Green Day with the bass turned down). These include the title track, Mother Mary and Pieces Of Truth. It makes the whole album something of an oddity. Was it intended as a full-on recreation of an era, or are we just meant to take it as a GD album with many nods to the past? On either score it doesn't quite work. Stop, Drop And Roll is the 60s filtered through 80s punk.
Elsewhere the obvious nods are the Kinks (Alligator), The Doors (Red Tide), The Yardbirds (Dark Side Of Night) and a whole slew of garage punk (in the Nuggets sense of the word) bands like the Standells, Shadows Of Knight (Ruby Room, 27th Ave Shuffle). It's the latter type of songs that best suit the band's dynamic: all blusterung chords, minimal guitar lead lines and a touch of wiggly organ thrown in for good measure. The writing is tight, the playing suitably spry and the hooks are plentiful. Certainly plentiful enough to keep the faithful happy for now. Yet, not unlike the Beastie Boys' recent foray into lacklustre psych funk, the majority of us will just wish that they'd get back to what they do best.