“From one outcast to another, twelve years in the making, this collection of Sick Of It All rarities features sounds and styles from many different stages of our career. A few of these songs simply didn’t make the cut when they were recorded, and some haven’t seen the light of day until now. Some are cover songs we felt brave enough to attempt, as long as they suited our frantic, aggressive approach. Hopefully you can appreciate these leftovers; they’re not short on hardcore flavor! Hardcore rarely touches on higher art, and these visceral, gritty tracks can attest to that. We’ve been lucky enough to experience a longevity that only the respect of people could bring us, and this is for the generations of fans that have been there with us, whether or not they’re still in touch with their inner outcast.”
I’m currently working through my list of CDs that I’ve listened to but haven’t reviewed yet. Oh, and last week I was on holiday, hence no review.
I first heard Sick of It All in 1994 on Noisy Mothers (hosted by Phil Alexander) with their fabulous single ‘Scratch the surface’, a full ten years before this CD was released, and now nearly twenty years ago. I had never really been into punk or hardcore, although I had dabbled in some early Suicidal Tendencies, but there was something about this single and subsequent album that connected with me.
When I first listened to this album of outtakes and B-sides I was really disappointed. It felt like a collection of… well, outtakes and tracks not quite good enough to make the album. A release designed for the hardcore fan, if you excuse the pun.
I’ve enjoyed it better this second time through. (I wonder how true that might be for other albums I’ve scored poorly.)
The first few tracks washed over me, to be honest. The next two tracks, ‘Borstal breakout’ and ‘Straight ahead’ were B-sides for the aforementioned ‘Scratch the surface’. ‘Borstal…’ is a straight ahead hardcore-by-numbers track; ‘Straight ahead’ reminds me of something off Slayer’s Undisputed Attitude (1996) album. Definitely my favourite of the two songs.
Things get a bit more interesting with ‘Soul by free’ (a surprisingly slow starter that has a catchy little melody… am I supposed to say stuff like that about hardcore?); ‘Blatty (Human Egg)’ which is 32 seconds of silliness that gets stuck in your ear; and ’86’ which probably has one of my favourite riffs on the album, which sounds like a kind of punk game of tennis.
The album has its fair share of covers: ‘All hell breaks loose’ (The Misfits), ‘Target’ (Hüsker Dü), ‘Rip off’ (Sham 69 cover), ‘Working class kids’ (The Last Resort) which don’t really do it for me, sadly. Even The Misfits’ song, and I’m a huge Danzig fan.
The last song, though, ‘Just look around (remix)’ comes from somewhere completely different. I reminds me immediately of The Fun Lovin’ Criminals! But then it was remixed by DJ Lethal (no idea!… just looked him up and seemingly he joined nu metal band Limp Bizkit) and House of Pain (I’ve heard of them… oh, it seems DJ Lethal was in them).
I really wanted to like this album. It has a few good riffs, and some interesting moments but it doesn’t excite me. Which isn’t a surprise given that a) I’m not a massive fan of the genre, and b) this is a collection of bits and bobs: sweepings from the cutting room floor, covers, tracks peeled from the backs of singles, and—in the case of the last track—literally lifted from a bootleg cassette.
A little disappointing, I know they can do better but their quality of playing and singing/shouting is still better than many bands can muster.
Review score: 60%