Greatest Hits '93-'03


Volcano Entertainment, 2004

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


An afterthought of the '90s alternative scene, one wouldn't think 311 had enough hits or even good songs to carry a 17 track greatest hits album, and they would be right. However, there is enough good stuff here to at least warrant a spin or two for the curious, and most fans outside of the hardcore will find this is all the 311 they will ever need.

The band never had a great album; From Chaos was as good as it got, though 311 brought them some commerical success in the middle of the decade. The quintet mixed up light reggae, hard rock, awkward rap and pop, infused with a good-time buzz and lyrics that vanished like a puff of smoke. When they got their shit together, they could actually write decent songs, which is why Greatest Hits redeems them somewhat, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers' stoned younger brothers.

"Down" and "All Mixed Up" are skate-rock of the highest order and the two best-known songs here, but "Flowing" outduels them both with a driving verse, in-and-out vocal harmonies and a slight undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the weed-as-way-of-life philosophy. "Amber" and especially "I'll Be Here Awhile" are the flip sides, the former a slow jam with a hint of island reggae, the latter an airy yet moving song of self-reliance.

That is pretty much the cream of the crop. The rest of the songs are plucked from the band's albums and are various uninspiring rewrites of each other, but occasionally something will float up from the cloud like the groove of "You Wouldn't Believe," the Collective Soul homage "Do You Right," and the best song the mid-period Chili Peppers never wrote, "Homebrew," with a slap bassline and white boy rap directly inspired by BloodSugarSexMagik.

However, the two new songs are very good and help make this worth the purchase. The first is a slowed-down, light-reggae infused version of the Cure's "Love Song" that turns into a lovely, original take on the piece. The second, "How Do You Feel," is the sound of a wised-up band shaking off the stoner persona, ramping up the energy and churning out a solid rock song that is easily one of their best. At least, it would have fit on the radio in 2004.

Granted, seven good songs out of 17 is not exactly inspiring, but there's a chance casual fans who wondered if the band had anything else besides a handful of college radio hits will find much to love here. For most people, this isn't music they will pull out very often, but when they do they will find it a fun, if uneven, overview of the band's first ten years.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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