Anthrology: No Hit Wonders (1985-1991)
Island Records, 2005
REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/28/2005
In an effort to pay tribute to their early days, specifically 1985-1991, Anthrax has just issued four releases at once -- two sets of identically titled CD/DVD pairs. First there's Anthrology: No Hit Wonders (the music version is two CDs; the video version is one DVD), and then there's Alive 2 (one CD or one DVD). In total, these three CDs and two DVDs serve as a collection that includes all of Anthrax's noteworthy songs from that period. This week on the DV, we will travel through the band's early material. My personal favorites like "Indians" and "Medusa" appear on both releases, which is an added bonus. With all the CDs and all the DVDs, you can experience favorite songs in their original studio format on No Hit Wonders as well as live from their reunion on Alive 2.
Anthrology: No Hit Wonders starts at the beginning. Anthrax's Spreading The Disease was released in October of 1985. According to the liner notes, the band doesn't consider Fistful Of Metal to be their true first release. According to guitarist Scott Ian, "[ Disease] was the first one that really came from the band as a unit." In addition, vocalist Joey Belladonna hadn't joined the band. Rewriting history, eh? When Disease was released, vocalist Joey Belladonna and guitarist Dan Spitz were members of the band. The lineup for these releases also features current members drummer Charlie Benante, guitarist Scott Ian, and bassist Frank Bello.
Kicking off with seven tracks from Spreading The Disease seems very applicable to the purpose of this release. Keep in mind that the songs on this collection are remixed or touched up in any way. This is Anthrax in the raw, so to speak, with the energy and double-bass overdrive during "Gung Ho" that won the fans. This is the band that released the anthem "Medusa" and the stomping "The Enemy." The material here has aged well. The energy is contagious.
Continuing on to the Among The Living release, there are six strong tracks included. This release came out when I was a senior in high school and I admit I wasn't ready. However, it was this disc, several years later in my friend's bedroom, that introduced me to Anthrax. My friend was playing guitar in one of the many incarnations of a basement band I was in and he put in Among The Living. It was around 1989, and I was finally ready to embrace the band. The opening guitar notes, followed by the toms of Benante, won me over. When the tempo kicked up to a frantic pace after the instrumental opening, my jaw dropped. There was energy and power as Belladonna began singing.
The other song on this release that will always be special is "Indians." At the time, I remember reading about how Anthrax was a band with a conscience since they wrote "Indians." I wasn't really into whether they had a conscience or not. I was more interested in the opening drums from Benante. I hold Living high on a pedastal, next to Metallica's Master of Puppets, as being one of the ultimate drum releases of all times.
CD 1 ends with two tracks from the I'm Te Man EP. There is a cover of Black Sabbath's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and their joke song "I'm The Man." Anthrax playing Black Sabbath sounds as heavy in 2005 as it did in 1987. "I'm The Man" still cracks me up as the band shuffles through their rap parody. This is the "Def Uncensored Radio Version" so you get all the curse words to make your heart sing joyfully, but turn it down or put on headphones if you are listening to this song when your 9 year-old daughter enters the room, especially if she times it to enter at "And all of them can suck our..."
CD 2 starts with six tracks from State Of Euphoria, which was released in September 1988. With Euphoria, the band was on a creative high. "Make Me Laugh" was the song that always sent shivers down my spine. The other high for me on this release was the mid-tempo stomp of "Finale."
In the summer of 1991, Anthrax was part of the Clash Of The Titans tour. They were touring in support of their Persistence Of Time album when they hooked up with Slayer, Megadeth, and Alice in Chains. They released Time in August of 1990 and had gotten MTV Headbanger Ball airtime with their video of their cover of Joe Jackson's "Got The Time," which shows up here. Other noteworthy tracks from this release are the mini-epics "Keep In The Family" and my personal favorite "In My World."
To end this collection, the band inserts their collaboration with Public Enemy "Bring Tha Noize." When this came out in July 1991, it was prior to Linkin Park. It was prior to Korn. It was prior to all the other 'groundbreaking' rap-metal bands that have saturated the radio airwaves. This track paved the way for those bands.
In total, this release serves as a way for casual Anthrax fans to be introduced to the band in a sequential order. Longtime fans now have a two more CDs to insert in their 6 CD changer with Attack Of The Killer B's, Attack Of The Killer A's and Among The Living when they want the perfect Anthrax shuffle.