Green Day Exposed

author PP date 15/09/05

A few years ago, had you asked a random person on any street to name three Green Day songs, less than 20% would have been able to answer. But with the release of American Idiot, a record that has won awards everywhere on the globe since its release, the percentage has risen to near one hundred. "American Idiot" was the final step to commercialize pop punk into the status it has today; bands like Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory and Blink 182 wouldn't be enjoying their commercial success if it wasn't for Green Day paving the path for them. The old Green Day fans will agree with me that there are way too many Green Day fans today, who, if asked, will only only recognize "American Idiot" songs to be Green Day's, and if you ask them about albums like Kerplunk, Nimrod or Dookie, they just go blank or ask "Huh, what are those'". But what many of the even most dedicated mid-90s Green Day fans don't know, is that there were 4 EPs and 1 full length before the release of Kerplunk! Most people have never heard of the debut album "1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours" or the EPs that made it possible.

During 1989, Lookout! Records signed an underground punk band called Sweet Children after watching them perform live at a high school party with less than ten people paying any attention. The band consisted of Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and John Kiffmeyer. Only a few weeks before the release of their debut EP "1,000 Hours", the band changed its name to Green Day. "At The Library" and "Green Day", both of which are still regarded as some of Green Day's best, were featured on the bands first ever release. Fast-forward two years into the eve of the release of "1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours", the debut full length compiled from the three EPs "1,000 Hours", "39/Smooth" and "Slappy", the band was still very much in the underground, known by very few but much loved by those who did. One year and countless shows later, the band had built up a huge sceneist fan following for their pioneering pop punk sound, later noted as the main influence to nearly every pop punk band out there today. They released "Kerplunk!", and embarked on their first ever overseas tour featuring many of the European countries.

Kerplunk! sold nearly 55,000 copies, and was widely regarded as one of the best punk releases of 1992, but the band was still unknown to most people around the world. However, the major labels started taking interest in the band. Reprise Records, responsible for every single Green Day release since Kerplunk!, signed the band and allowed them to enter the studio to record an album containing one song that, a few years later, every single person on the planet knew the lyrics to. The album was entitled "Dookie", which would become the breakthrough album to the band. Little did Billie & co know when they considered not to include "Basket Case" on the album. Fortunately for us (and the band), they went ahead and included the song they regarded as not good enough for the record. This would later become their most widely known song across the world.

Oddly enough, Green Day was mudded and bottled during their performance at the 1994 woodstock festival, only a few weeks after the release of "Dookie". That's right folks, Green Day was playing the likes of "Basket Case", "Long View" on stage while being thrown bottles at, as unbelievable as it may sound.

Green Day kept building their fanbase with "Insomniac" and "Nimrod". More and more people started gaining interest in the band, whose hair colours seemed to change every date they played. Though lots of people were gaining interest, none of the albums never made it #1 in any charts. Dookie" ended up on a comfortable #2 position together with "Insomniac" doing the same a year later. "Nimrod", widely regarded as the second best Green Day album out there, ended up on a disappointing #10 in the charts.

A few years passed by and the band released "Warning", a folk influenced album that was not well received by neither fans nor critics. Most people thought the band had peaked, and were preparing for the disbanding/hiatus statement. The release of a greatest hits album followed by a b-sides and rarities release only seemed to confirm the thoughts. The fans paid next to no interest when the band announced plans of recording another album a year later. Fast forward a year and a half, and Green Day are more popular than ever. The band members have started wearing eyeliner, "American Idiot" won a grammy and the band has won more than ten major awards from MTV, Kerrang! and other respectable medias. The album has sold eight million copies worldwide and it doesn't look out to stop selling anytime soon.

The essential ones to own:

Dookie (1994)
It's amazing to think that just a few weeks after the release of "Dookie", Green Day was bottled during their Woodstock festival appearance. The pop punk revolution was just starting, and the punk rock elitists were listening to bands like Bad Religion, NOFX, Rancid, and The Descendents to name a few biggest names, and the likes of Green Day were seen as sellouts already at this early stage. When we're looking at "Dookie" in 2005 we're looking at the most important pop punk record ever. Without Dookie, bands like New Found Glory, Sum 41, Blink 182 and others wouldn't exist today. "Dookie" featured songs like "Basket Case", "Long View" and "Welcome To Paradise", that would later be known by everyone throughout the Western society and elsewhere on the planet. Songs like "Long View", "Basket Case", "Sassafras Roots", "Burnout", "When I Come Around" and "She" are among other classics from the record. In fact, "Dookie" is one of the few records ever composed, whose each and every song is a classic within its genre. If you're only going to own one Green Day record it has to be this one.

Nimrod (1997)
Nimrod is the follow up to Insomniac, and Green Day still shows they're THE pop punk band with classics like "Hitchin' A Ride", "Haushinka", "Nice Guys Finish Last", "King For A Day" and "Redundant". This is an album that, after Dookie, would make any Green Day fan look down in shame if it wasn't part of their record collection. The sound of Nimrod is a tad bit darker than what we're used to, but what the hell, the ultra happy, catchy three chord melodies are still present here as clearly as on "Dookie". The biggest difference to "Dookie" on "Nimrod" is the variety of songs. The album showcased how Green Day is able to stretch their sound to four different extremes. Firstly, "King For A Day" brought in trumpets and a sound resembling the early ska-movement. "Last Ride In" introduced the chillier, instrumental side of Green Day, and despite it's greatness, it would never see daylight during any live shows up to date. Looking back in retrospect, the slower, more anthemic "Prosthetic Head" alongside with "Last Ride In" effectively foreshadow Green Days later transition into alternative songs like "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" and "Macy Day Parade". On top of that, the album featured "Platypus (I Hate You)", one of the fastest, 'punkest' songs Green Day has ever composed. Along with "Dookie", "Nimrod" belongs into the collection of every serious fan of bands like New Found Glory, Blink 182, Fastlane and the rest of the modern pop punk scene.

1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours (1991)
Some people consider this as the best Green Day album of all time. And if you can ignore the lack of production and Billie's somewhat undeveloped vocals, this is a serious contender for Dookie to be the best Green Day album ever. The newer, America-Idiot era Green Day fans will find this album strange and perhaps even inaccessible. This is how underground punk bands sound like before they get on major labels, and once you get used to the sound, you'll actually like it. The album contains some of the best Green Day songs ever, such as "At The Library", "16", "Road To Acceptance" and the Operation Ivy cover "Knowledge". Unlike the other pre-Warning albums, this album contains a few slower, less punky anthems foreshadowing songs like "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" and "Wake Me Up When September Ends" to come.

Once you own the ones above, consider these:

Insomniac (1995)
Insomniac was the follow up album to Dookie, the most popular Green Day album to date. Insomniac features a much darker and rawer Green Day sound, and it contains many of my personal Green Day favourites such as the erratic "Panic Song", "Armatage Shanks", "Bab's Uvula Who'", "Brat" and "Jaded". It's generally regarded as the fastest Green Day album out there. It is also the least radio friendly album the band has produced to date. It is also the album most people forget about, despite the amount of instant classics on the album.

American Idiot (2004)
The album that everyone knows by now. It has spawned countless awards and international recognition for the band. This is the first album where Green Day has radically changed their sound into a more commercial alternative rock sound. Many old Green Day fans felt betrayed by this album that featured the slow songs like "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams", "Are We The Waiting" and "Wake Me Up When September Ends". However, the older fans will still appreciate songs like "St. Jimmi", "American Idiot" and "Letterbomb" that represent the punk rock Green Day we all grew up with throughout the 90s. It is still a great album, but it is incomparable to the three essentials listed above.

Kerplunk (1992)
Kerplunk is the album most Dookie/Nimrod/Insomniac time Green Day fans will remember, instead of the debut 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours. Kerplunk introduced better production, catchier songs and a definition of what Green Day would sound like for the next decade or so. Kerplunk includes prominent Green Day classics such as "2000 Light Years Away", "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield", the original version of the 1994 classic "Welcome To Paradise" and a great cover of "My Generation" by The Who. Stylistically, this album's songs are much like the ones on the debut, while at the same time having a level of production almost like the later albums such as Dookie, Nimrod and Insomniac.

But avoid these:

Warning (2000)
After cherishing the sound of the likes of "Dookie", "Nimrod" and "Insomniac" for the most part of the 90s, it was astonishing to listen to such a bad album as "Warning". The album features songs with folk influence in them, and "Hold On" even features strange instruments like the mouth organ and a tambourine. "A big no no" was the opinion of the fans. The only positive note about "Warning" is that it contains "Minority", one of the best Green Day songs to date.

International Superhits (2001)
There are only two new tracks on this greatest hits album, and it misses out some of the best tracks of Green Day. My advise is not to purchase the greatest hits album, but instead get all of the old classics instead. Not worth spending your money on.

Shenanigans (2002)
A b-sides and rarities disc is essential to any bands career, and Green Day is no exception. Shenanigans contains many of the songs that didn't make it onto Dookie, Nimrod, Kerplunk and Insomniac, but while "Desensitized" and "Suffocated" are great, the rest of the album isn't really worth much. It's essential to those who want to own the entire Green Day back collection but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else, really.

The ultimate Green Day mixtape:

1. At The Library (1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours)

2. 16 (1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours)

3. 2,000 Light Years Away (Kerplunk!)

4. Who Wrote Holden Caulfield (Kerplunk!)

5. American Idiot (American Idiot)

6. St Jimmi (American Idiot)

7. Armatage Shanks (Insomniac)

8. Bab's Uvula Who' (Insomniac)

9. Geek Stink Breath (Insomniac)

10. Jaded (Insomniac)

11. Minority (Warning)

12. Burnout (Dookie)

13. Long View (Dookie)

14. Basket Case (Dookie)

15. She (Dookie)

16. When I Come Around (Dookie)

17. Hitchin' A Ride (Nimrod)

18. King For A Day (Nimrod)

19. Nice Guys Finish Last (Nimrod)

20. The Grouch (Nimrod)


1989 - 1,000 Hours[EP]

1990 - Slappy [EP]

1991 - 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours

1992 - Kerplunk!

1994 - Dookie

1994 - Live Tracks [Live EP]

1995 - Insomniac

1996 - Bowling Bowling Bowling Parking Parkin [Live EP]

1997 - Nimrod

1998 - Foot In Mouth [Live EP]

2000 - Warning

2000 - Tune In Tokyo [Live EP]

2001 - International Superhits

2002 - Shenanigans

2004 - American Idiot

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