The Last Great Thing You Did

Various Artists

Lookout! Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


What exactly is punk rock? If you spent your teenage years in the '70s, chances are names like the Sex Pistols come to mind. If you were a teen in the '80s like I was, groups like Black Flag, Husker Du and Fear undoubtedly were in your record collection. These days, Green Day and the Offspring are seen as punk.

Now, you won't hear me calling any band in today's scene as fake punk; like all forms of music, punk must change and mature for the times. But you also won't hear me calling myself an expert in this field; if only Paul Hanson were back from his hiatus, he could school me.

If you're curious to discover what lies in punk beyond Green Day's audio assault, then a sampler from their former label Lookout!, The Last Great Thing You Did, might be the perfect solution for you. The price is right (it retails for only about $4), and there's a wide selection of bands on the disc (21 different groups on 23 tracks). But in its strength is also its weakness, as this disc gets to be a little overpowering, despite clocking in at under 45 minutes.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In a sense, it's really hard to say that such a disc is going to convince you one way or the other to pick up an album by any of the included bands. Not that the album's compilers did a bad job, but it's very hard to gauge what a band is like in a two-minute blast of energy. Still, I guess there is a chance that someone listening to one track might develop a curiosity about the band they just heard.

And, in a sense, it did happen to me. Two tracks stood out on the initial listen: "Political Asshole" from Pansy Division (a track which captures both the power and the humor the genre has right now) and "Life During Wartime" from Pinhead Gunpowder. If, when you listen to this song, you swear you're listening to Green Day, let's just say you're one-thirds right. (I'll leave it up to you to find out the whole story - hey, I can't give away every secret in my reviews!)

And, much to my surprise, the bands who tried to stay true to the original work ethic of punk really missed the target (or maybe it's just that they sounded out of place compared to the bulk of this disc). Case in point: "Fuk Shit Up" from Blatz, which suffered from an overall poor production. (I question whether better knob-twirling would have helped this song.)

But throwing 21 different bands at you - especially if you're someone who is picking this disc up without knowing much about the label or its bands - at one time does get to be a little too much, and after a while, it's hard to tell the difference between Groovie Ghoulies, Mr. T Experience and Potatomen.

Still, The Last Great Thing You Did is a nice way to sample some bands you might never have heard of (not to mention searched out their albums) at a price that can't be beat. Even if you end up not liking the disc, you're only out a few bucks - hell, picking this disc up costs less than going to see the new Star Wars movie, and at least you have more to show for the experience than just a ticket stub afterwards.

If you are the least bit curious about what the '90s punk craze is about, search this disc out - but it might be wise to take it on in portions.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Lookout! Records, and is used for informational purposes only.