Short Music For Short People
Fat Wreck Chords Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Matthew Turk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/31/2001
Seems like a neat idea - get about a hundred bands, and have them all do short songs for a compilation CD. Have them target 30 seconds, and see what comes out. It's a very good sampler; for the most part it's a Who's Who of punk, but it also includes some other styles - like Gwar, a band I'd never associated with punk before.
But here's the thing. Sometimes reviewing compilations can be difficult, and other times it's not very hard at all. But in this case, I have no idea what to say about it except maybe highlight a couple and give a general impression. I mean, hell, it's over a hundred bands, each for less than a minute. A bit overwhelming, wouldn't you say?
The consistency is very good. All the way through it's mostly the same feeling - quick, high-energy spurts of music. Even from the first ten, there are some definite highlights - a sickly sweet "Ketchup Soup" by Teen Idols, "The Living End" by Ready, and the intro song by Fizzy Bangers.
Now, if I were to highlight every single track I thought was noteworthy, this review would easily turn into a novel. Most of the bands here utilize the short medium to accentuate their differences and abilities. I'd never heard interesting punk guitar of the caliber on this CD before - and I think that's a result of the constraints. The lyrics are very self-contained, the musical ideas are formed but not developed, and nearly every single track stands out.
The strongest point of the album is the distinctiveness of every track. Against my better intentions, I am going to highlight a few tracks here as being particularly delightful. The Ataris give a little bit of energy with "The Radio Still Sucks," Blink 182 churns out a George Carlin tribute, Guttermouth speaks out on salesmen, and the mainstream friends of punk The Offspring pay homage to the Anarchist's Cookbook.
I could go on and on - but I'll simplify and say that nearly, but not all, tracks are winners. It's an immersive and spastic sampler platter of music, ostensibly designed for the MTV generation that can't keep their minds on things for more than a minute or so - or for everybody who's made a mix tape and can't fit anything into those last fifteen seconds.
I found this CD new for under ten dollars, and it was worth every cent. While some of the musical ideas would have worked in longer mediums, I'm not sure about all of them; and thus, it works as a disc.