Various Artists

The Songs Of Tony Sly: A Tribute

Written by: PP on 13/12/2013 00:36:02

Tony Sly passed away on July 31st last year after releasing eight albums between 1990 and 2008 as the primary songwriter for No Use For A Name, alongside a couple of solo albums on the side. He was widely respected as one of the most important punk rock songwriters of his generation. Albums like "¡Leche con Carne!", "Making Friends", "More Betterness" and "The Feel Good Record Of The Year" are considered as timeless classics within punk rock, especially considering the first three were key albums in what is today referred to as the 'golden era of punk rock' during the late 90s. His importance as one of the legendary figures in the genre has now been immortalized on "The Songs Of Tony Sly - A Tribute", a 26-track compilation put together by Fat Mike (NOFX) featuring what is quite possibly the most all-star lineup within the genre you've ever seen, this counting even the legendary "Fat Music" and "Punk'O'Rama" series from a decade ago. I'm just gonna go ahead and name eight bands so you know what caliber bands we're talking about: NOFX, Bad Religion, The Bouncing Souls, Pennywise, The Gaslight Anthem, Lagwagon, Alkaline Trio, Yellowcard. And that's just scratching the surface

Basically, Fat Mike has reached out to everyone who matters in punk rock and has picked the cream from the top for a demonstration of just how important Tony Sly's songs were to bands of such different backgrounds and sounds. Each band was then given free hands to pay their tributes to Sly, and the result is nothing short of an awesome dedication to the man, an emotionally powerful journey through absolute classics in punk rock, all interpreted and translated to the sounds of the other bands in question. It is enormous credit to his original songwriting that his melodies are still recognizable despite being meshed, mixed, reinterpreted, re-arranged, made acoustic, made louder, and twisted into the respective band's own sounds. Which is amazing really, considering they were basically chord based skate punk songs.

For instance, I'll bet you can't imagine how NUFAN songs sound like in ska format. Mad Caddies demonstrate "AM" in a relaxed ska style, whereas Snuff make "On The Outside" sound so different with its samba rhythms and fiery trumpets it's incredible that you can still recognize the main melody of the song. Then you have Strung Out delivering some technical insanity on "Soulmate", adding their own flair to a song that was previously only chords. Rise Against convert "For Fiona" into an emotional acoustic ballad, think "Swing Life Away" style from Tim's solo songs. NOFX transform "The Shortest Pier" into their own snarly punk rock format that makes it sound like the song featured on "Coaster" or something. The Bouncing Souls take "Homecoming" and modify it to fit their happy-go-lucky 90s pop punk. Folk punkers Old Man Markley make "Feel Good Song Of The Year", originally a hard-hitting melodic hardcore song, feel like a rodeo song with its hectic banjo and violin backing. "Discomfort Inn" sounds like classic Lagwagon from the 90s. Teenage Bottlerocket? "Via Munich" now sounds totally silly and no-frills, as does "Flying South" courtesy of the million miles an hour delivery of Frenzal Rhomb. "Keira"? Frank Turner takes care of it with his acoustic guitar. Did you ever imagine hearing "Devonshire & Crown" with the tight guitars of Pennywise - including the distortion and inimitable vocals of Jim? Oh, and we're nowhere near done yet.

Alkaline Trio take "Straight From The Jacket" and make it sound like their "Damnesia"-era acoustic material. "Capo 4th Fret" has soothing harmonica and acoustic guitar courtesy of Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem fame. "Already Won"? Throw in Yellowcard's violin melody and Ryan Key's classic pop punk vocals. And in what is perhaps the greatest rendition on the record overall, "Fireball" sounds so much like an original Flatliners track it's almost impossible to believe Tony Sly wrote it, if it wasn't for the familiar melody line in the song. Likewise, "International You Day" by Joey Cape With Scorpions (Lagwagon) is an absolute highlight because Cape was one of Sly's best friends. And hence, when the lyrics "but without you, my life is incomplete, my days are absolutely gray" arrive, the song is slowed down to a crawl to allow Cape to insert truly heartfelt, inescapable emotion and sorrow into his voice as he mourns his late friend on an acoustic piano ballad.

But really, moments like these are found everywhere in the record. Every band pays their respects in their own way, focusing on the lyrical content, highlighting important parts, and interpreting Sly's songs in the most creative ways possible. It's what Tony would've wanted.

Download: "Soulmate" (Strung Out), "Fireball" (The Flatliners), "International You Day" (Joey Cape With Scorpions)
For the fans of: No Use For A Name, punk rock legends, timeless songs
Listen: Facebook

Release date 29.10.2013
Fat Wreck Chords

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