Admittedly, I was late to the punk rock party—30 years late. But making up for lost time, I’ve managed to see some of the godfathers of punk in the last few years: The Damned, Agent Orange, Misfits, The (New) Germs and even Bad Religion (the Cross Busters smoked at Bottle Rock Napa)! So when I was digging through the CDs in my collection and I came across “Punk-O-Rama 4: Straight Outta the Pit” (1999), I was stoked. Again, I’ve lost track of when or where I gathered this one up, but apparently, the CD gods were smiling on me that day.
Something of a greatest “hits” of Epitaph Records recording artists, this one volume disc contains 25 noggin knocking 2-to-3-minute classics of the mosh pit. Even as good as Bad Religion is on “Generator,” and that’s as explosive as “a f-ing atom bomb,” as the song goes, they aren’t even the best “P4” has to offer. As lyrically bright and brutally honest as they have always been known to be, Bad Religion takes no prisoners. Another cut I was looking forward was Agnostic Front on “It’s My Life.” As the progenitors of the New York hardcore movement, this group is aggressive and driving, and they always “do things their own way.”
A group I wasn’t familiar with going into this CD is Zeke. The lead singer really belts it out on “Twisted” going down on the 69, metaphorically. But I dunno it is punk rock, maybe they mean it literally. The guitarist sounds like some kind of dangerous power tool, buzzsawing through the riffs. It’s as serious as a heart attack. However, there is plenty of fun left on the album with the likes of Voodoo Glow Skulls letting the horns fly on “They Always Come Back.” Hearing that “bah-ba-na-na-na | bah-ba-na-na-na” of the brass section makes me think of the Stanford band and the crazy dancin’ tree!
H2O on “Faster than the World” and The Bouncing Souls on “Hopeless Romantic” keep the fun going with playful words and lightning fast two-chord progressions. So the take the Souls’ advice, don’t be hopeless; if you can find this one, give it a listen.