Saturday, 7 June 2014

Green Day

Back in the days when music channels used to play music videos, irrelevant of what time of day it was, I seem to recall stumbling across a performance by a “new” band called Green Day at about half past four on a midweek afternoon. I have a feeling that at the time, 1994, MTV Europe used to have some sort of feature where they would play a clip by a new band, filmed at a recent gig. I could be wrong. But I remember seeing this black and white clip of this three piece punk band careering through a song called “Welcome To Paradise”. I was quite fascinated by it. A matter of months later, and you couldn’t move for the number of times MTV would rotate the promo video for “Basket Case” by the same band, a glorious marriage of Sex Pistols energy and Buzzcocks pop suss. As usual, it took me a while before I actually got round to buying any Green Day records, but my claim to fame is that once I had bought “Dookie”, it was early enough in their career to predate the move into the arenas and stadiums that later success brought. Yep, I saw them play the Astoria in 1997, before they knocked it down, when I think the tickets cost about £10. I saw them do the Brixton Academy in 1995, entrance fee about the same - when they played there again in 2013, my brother apparently paid an arm and a leg to get in, because it was now the sort of sized venue that they would only play as part of a “secret gig” set up. See, being old has it’s advantages.

Green Day had already gone through one line up change and issued several records before I saw that MTV clip. The band’s initial releases were generally limited to North America, and the group were more or less unknown outside of the States. Their debut LP, “39 Smooth”, appeared in 1990 on Lookout Records, and was later reissued in expanded form as “1039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours”, the title referring to the fact that the bonus material included songs from the early period EP’s “1000 Hours” and “Slappy”. This was the only album to feature the original line up of Billie Joe Armstrong, bass player Mike Dirnt and drummer John Kiffmeyer. “1039” also featured “I Want To Be Alone”, originally released on a compilation album called “The Big One”.

With the classic line up now in place, Tre Cool coming in to replace Kiffmeyer, 1992 saw the release of “Kerplunk”, another US only release, but one that eventually sold in big units. Cassette and CD copies of the album came bolstered with four bonus tracks lifted from the “Sweet Children” EP, the title itself taken from the band’s original name. This album marked the first appearance of “Welcome To Paradise”, later becoming one of the band’s more famous songs after being included again on their major label debut, “Dookie”, and issued as a single in 1994.

The buzz surrounding “Kerplunk” had led to interest outside of the US, and it was Warner Brothers offshoot Reprise that picked the band up for future international releases. The band’s two Lookout albums remained in print on the label for some time, and were only technically available in the UK on import, although both “1039“ and “Kerplunk” were given a UK/Europe release by Epitaph in 1997.

The band’s third album, but debut UK LP release, was thus “Dookie”, seen as one of the leading exponents of the US led pop-punk scene of the 1990’s, a scene which also saw international breakthroughs for The Offspring, Rancid and Blink 182. It is a magnificent beast of a record, possibly still their best, a perfect marriage of energetic riffing and melodic nous. Some of the lyrics may be a bit childish, but they were young, and the album itself was simply a record of what it was like to be a youngster. The riffs may have been from 1977 but the songs were from the perspective of a 1990s teenager.

It took a while for the album to really break in the UK - the first two singles released were both flops, and as such, “Basket Case” and “Longview” only became proper hits second time around, when they were repressed in new sleeves, with new b-sides, and a new catalogue number. The version of “Welcome To Paradise” was a re-recording, even though I can’t really tell the difference, but the album’s highlight was probably “When I Come Around”, a sort of slow mo version of punk, where the sheer catchiness of the album hits it’s brilliant best. By the summer of 94, the band played a now famous show at the mudfest that was Woodstock 2, and by the year end, “Dookie” was continuing to shift units as Green Day began to turn into one of the biggest bands in the world. The band’s “old” fans disowned them, accusing them of selling out, but hey, wouldn’t you cash a cheque if Warners offered you one?

It was always going to be difficult to top a record as glorious as “Dookie”, but at this point, Green Day were not really into reinventing the wheel, and so for the most part, 1995’s “Insomniac” follows similar ground, and as such, is quite enjoyable. “Stuck With Me” is probably the highlight, a fun piece of short and sharp brat-punk, but the first sign of things to come is on the medley “Brain Stew” and “Jaded”, the former being a strange punk strut, the guitars only coming in now and then to fill the empty spaces that inhabit the song, it sounds like Black Sabbath covering Kraftwerk. The two songs were later issued as a double A side, with the NME (or maybe the Melody Maker, I can't fully remember) claiming that the band’s next single was going to be called “Brain’s Too Jaded”. It was, possibly, the first AA single release where the two a-sides segued from one to another since the “Sgt Pepper”/”With A Little Help From My Friends” 45 by the Beatles in 1978, but I could be wrong. Promo copies were issued with just “Brain Stew” on, which faded out early. One of the CD singles were pressed as a brain shaped disc, and one of the b-sides was a song called “Good Riddance” - at the time, just another b-side, but later to be instrumental in the rebranding of Green Day as a stadium filling, lighters aloft, rock and roll band.

1997’s “Nimrod” carried on where “Insomniac” left off, although the inclusion of no less than 18 songs on this one, suggested a desire to go somewhere they hadn’t been before. My favourite is “Redundant”, more power pop than pop punk, but it was a re-recorded “Good Riddance”, now called “Time Of Your Life”, that brought Green Day to a completely new audience. Nothing more than Billie Joe on acoustic, and a string section behind, it was the most un-Green Day-like tune they had ever recorded, and it became one of their biggest hits. Although the summer 98 festival circuits still saw the group playing mid afternoon slots at the likes of V98 (where they trashed the stage before Armstrong’s solo performance of “Time Of Your Life” concluded proceedings), it would not be too long before the bigger venues, and more prestigious festival slots, would soon be theirs for the taking.

There was a minor hiccup on 2000’s “Warning”, a quite enjoyable record but one which confused the purists when the title track was revealed to have an acoustic guitar instead of an electric throughout, and is/was described on Wikipedia as incorporating “pop and folk influences”. CD editions added a live version of oldie “86” as a bonus track, whilst vinyl copies omitted this freebie but were pressed on green vinyl. Lead 45 “Minority” was a cross between old school Green Day and The Pogues (think of the Irish music bar scenes in “The Wire”) whilst my fav was “Waiting”, another gloriously catchy piece of misery-punk, and issued in the UK on three formats each with exclusive material. In the US, it appeared as a pink vinyl 7” on the Adeline label some weeks earlier, with a new song, “Maria”, on the flipside. “Maria” was one of two new songs that opened 2001’s best-of set, “International Superhits”, an otherwise chronological run through of the Reprise years. Mostly based around the singles, one or two “non hits” were included, such as compilation contribution “JAR” and non UK singles like “Macy’s Day Parade”. An accompanying video collection, “International Supervideos”, was issued on DVD at the same time.

Another water treading release followed in 2002, in the form of (selected) b-sides album “Shenanigans”, which included an ‘incentive purchase’ new song in the form of “Ha Ha You’re Dead”. But then, when the band’s next studio effort appeared in 2004, it simply took them to the next level yet again. First “Dookie”, then “Time Of Your Life”, and now “American Idiot”. The band’s own “punk opera”, this concept album opened with the firebrand roar of the title track, a sort of return-to-their-roots style piece of rifferama, presumably to blow away the cobwebs of “Warning”, but thereafter, it was a genre redefining barrage of near prog style epicness, unlike anything they had ever tried before - be it the rhythmic stomp of “Are We The Waiting”, the multi sectioned nine minute pomp of “Jesus Of Suburbia” or the lighters aloft power-punk of “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams”. Multiple singles were issued, all smash hits, and the band were not only back, but were bigger than ever. A live CD/DVD called “Bullet In A Bible” was issued in 2005, documenting the band’s stadium headlining show at the “hole in the ground” that is the Milton Keynes Bowl that summer. “American Idiot” was later reissued to included a DVD featuring a couple of promo clips and some “making of” featurettes. Brandon Flowers later criticised the band’s anti-US stance on the record, but all they were doing was detailing the problems in post-9/11 America, just as Madonna had done on 2003’s “American Life”.

It would be some time before studio album number eight, although there was a stop gap release in 2008, when the band, under the banner of Foxboro Hot Tubs, released “Stop Drop And Roll”, another sort of ’back to basics’ record. Although the band have been rumoured to have recorded under other aliases, the Hot Tubs is the only “officially” recognised side project, and in the UK, the album was distributed by Reprise. You would be well advised to read up on the net about “The Network”, the more mysterious other side project.

2009 saw what was more or less a companion release to “American Idiot”, with the release of another concept record in the form of “21st Century Breakdown”. This one didn’t seem to have quite the same impact as it’s predecessor, but it is no less ambitious - the album consists of three acts, another 18 song effort, and features some of the band’s best material, such as “East Jesus Nowhere”. Whilst critics had praised “Idiot”, “TCB” didn’t garner as impressive write ups. It’s release coincided with the stage production of “American Idiot”, which was based mostly around the album of the same name, with a few other songs including some from “TCB” thrown into the mix. Quite what those people who had claimed them to be “sell outs” back in 1994 thought by now, god knows. But frankly, who cares. A cast album was issued in 2010, featuring the band backing the cast members throughout, along with a new Green Day song at the end, “When It’s Time“, with Armstrong on lead vocals.

Another live CD/DVD, 2011’s “Awesome As F***”, was issued thereafter, documenting the “21st Century Breakdown” shows. Aside from a nod to their punk rock past, by including live performances of early period tunes like “Going To Pasalacqua” and “Who Wrote Holden Caulfield”, the album also featured a live performance of a ’new’ song, “Cigarettes And Valentines”. The song was originally one of an entire albums worth of material written and recorded in 2003, only for the master tapes to go missing. Deciding that the material wasn’t fully up to scratch anyway, the following “American Idiot” sessions consisted of entirely new material, and the “lost” album was officially buried.

The band’s most recent material was spread across three albums, issued in close succession in 2012, as “Uno”, “Dos” and “Tre”, each featuring a cover with one of the band members on the front - guess which one Tre Cool appears on. Thing is, by this point, the group had officially expanded to a four piece with the addition full time of touring guitarist Jason White, but never fear - a documentary called “Cuatro” also exists, which seems to acknowledge this, and indeed, his face can be seen on the front of the DVD edition - along with the rest of the group.

Just prior to the release of “Uno”, Reprise issued an 8-CD Boxset called “The Studio Albums 1990-2009”, which featured re-releases of everything from “1039” to “TCB” - but no “Stop Drop And Roll”. The release was partly possible because there had been a falling out between the band and Lookout in 2005 over royalty payments, and Green Day had stopped the label from issuing their records. In 2007, the two Lookout albums were reissued by Reprise in conjunction with Epitaph, and the box therefore featured reissues of these records in card sleeves. In most instances, the CD’s themselves were repressings of the original disc, even down to the point where the disc featured the original catalogue number, but the two Epitaph releases were slightly revamped for the boxset. “Kerplunk” appeared in it’s 16 track form, whilst the DVD from the “American Idiot” reissue was, as you’d expect, nowhere to be found.

Whilst there are those who now look at the stadium filling version of the band, with their increased ticket prices, and wonder exactly what is so “punk” about them, well, “punk” can mean whatever you want it to mean. And I think the idea of a band coming out of a niche scene, hitting pay dirt with their first major label LP, doing a rock opera, and then turning it into a stage production, whilst hanging out with U2, is quite punk in it’s own right. There are some real gems hidden away in the back catalogue, and whilst, like the Foos, it is difficult to work out exactly HOW Green Day became enormodrome megastars, sooner them than, say, Dappy or Tom Odell.


OK. Let’s assume you don’t want to buy the 2009 albums boxset. Although that’s the easiest place to start. Most Green Day albums appeared on coloured vinyl and CD at some point, but given that some albums of course were never officially released in the UK, some of those colour vinyl pressings are from overseas. So, for each album, I have listed the original pressing if it was released somewhere in the world on coloured vinyl, and then any later reissues - usually the standard CD, sometimes not. Where an album has only been released in just one interesting format, I have just listed that edition. Note: coloured vinyl pressings exist of “Awesome”, but they are lacking the DVD, so it’s a bit pointless.

For the singles, I bought quite a few Green Day singles on coloured vinyl and picture disc when they first came out, so I paid very little for them. So I have listed the UK singles, including both coloured vinyl editions and each CD edition, plus any other odds and sods formats that are of interest. Sometimes, it might be that the combination of two formats per single are required to tick all the boxes, check out if you want to find out more about what is listed here - and what isn’t. The coloured vinyls have probably rocketed in value now though, so you might not find them easy to hunt down. Aside from the aforementioned US 7” of “Waiting”, can I also recommend to you the Japanese 1998 CD “Singles Box“, which includes reissues of the four “Dookie” singles and the three “Insomniac” ones. They are based around the original pressings, and where a second CD was issued, it gets omitted, but if you can find one, it’s a glorious thing to own, especially as it includes the original “Longview” and “Basket Case” pressings, rather than the easier to find second releases. Good luck!


39/Smooth (Green Vinyl US LP, Lookout LK#22)
39/Smooth (White Vinyl LP + 2x7”, Epitaph 6866-1, reissue, includes repressing of the “1000 Hours” and “Slappy” EP’s)
1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours (US CD, Lookout LK#22)

Kerplunk (US CD, Lookout LK#46)
Kerplunk (US LP +7”, Reprise 1-517784, reissue, includes repressing of the “Sweet Children” EP)

Dookie (Green Vinyl LP, Reprise 9362-45813-1, numbered)
Dookie (CD, Reprise 9362-45529-2)

Insomniac (CD, Reprise 9362-46046-2)
Insomniac (US Blue Vinyl LP, Reprise 46046-1, reissue)

Nimrod (CD, Reprise 9362-46794-2)

Warning (Green Vinyl LP, Reprise 9362-47613-1)
Warning (CD, Reprise 9362-47613-2, includes “86 (Live In Prague)”, originally on b-side of “Minority”)

International Superhits (2 x Purple Vinyl LP, Reprise 9362-48145-1)
International Superhits (CD, Reprise 9362-48145-2)

Shenanigans (Blue Vinyl LP, Reprise 9362-48208-1)
Shenanigans (CD, Reprise 9362-48208-2, copies originally shrinkwrapped)

American Idiot (CD+DVD, Reprise 9362-49391-2)

Bullet In A Bible (CD+DVD, Reprise 9362-49466-2)

Stop Drop And Roll (CD, Jingle Town 9362-49864-7)

21st Century Breakdown (CD, Reprise 9362-498021, some copies in “deluxe” book style packaging)

Awesome As F*** (CD+DVD, Reprise 9362-496109)

Uno (US Pink Vinyl LP, Reprise 531973-1)
Uno (CD, Reprise 9362-49487-1)

Dos (US Blue Vinyl LP, Reprise 531976-1)
Dos (CD, Reprise 9362-49486-8)

Tre (US Yellow Vinyl LP, Reprise 531978-1)
Tre (CD, Reprise 9362-49486-4)


Longview/Going To Pasalacqua (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/FOD (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/Christie Road (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (CD, Reprise W0247 CD)

Basket Case/Tired Of Waiting For You (Green Vinyl 7”, Reprise W0257, numbered)
Basket Case/On The Wagon/Tired Of Waiting For You/409 In Your Coffeemaker (Unmixed) (CD1, Reprise W0257 CD, green casing, numbered)
Basket Case/On The Wagon/Tired Of Waiting For You/409 In Your Coffeemaker (Unmixed) (CD2, Reprise W0257 CD2, standard casing)

Welcome To Paradise/Chump (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (Cassette, Reprise W0269 C)
Welcome To Paradise/Chump (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/Emenius Sleepus (Green Vinyl 12“, Reprise W0269 T, in clear sleeve)
Welcome To Paradise/Chump (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/Emenius Sleepus (CD1, Reprise W0269 CD)
Welcome To Paradise/Chump (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/Emenius Sleepus (CD2, Reprise W0269 CDX, green casing, numbered, promo copies in stickered sleeve exist housed in standard casing and with blank space for number but with no number printed)

Basket Case/2000 Light Years Away (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (Green Vinyl 7“, Reprise W0279)
Basket Case/Longview (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/Burnout (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/2000 Light Years Away (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (CD1, Reprise W0279 CD)
Basket Case/Longview (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/Burnout (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/2000 Light Years Away (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (CD2, Reprise W0279 CDX, in green digipack sleeve)

Longview/Welcome To Paradise (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/One Of My Lies (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (CD1, Reprise W0287 CD)
Longview/Welcome To Paradise (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/One Of My Lies (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (CD2, Reprise W0287 CDX, digipack sleeve)

When I Come Around/She (Live, Chicago Aragon Ballroom 18.11.1994) (7“ Picture Disc, Reprise W0294 X, numbered, in clear sleeve with insert)
When I Come Around/Coming Clean (Live, Chicago Aragon Ballroom 18.11.1994)/She (Live, Chicago Aragon Ballroom 18.11.1994) (CD, Reprise W0294 CD)

Geek Stink Breath/I Want To Be On TV (Red Vinyl 7”, Reprise W0320 X)
Geek Stink Breath/I Want To Be On TV/Don’t Want To Fall In Love (CD, Reprise W0320 CD, b-sides later included on “Shenanigans“)

Stuck With Me/When I Come Around (Live, Stockholm Erhus Vejby Risskov Hall 4.9.1995)/Jaded (Live, Stockholm Erhus Vejby Risskov Hall 4.9.1995) (CD1, Reprise W0327 CD1)
Stuck With Me/Dominated Love Slave (Live, Stockholm Erhus Vejby Risskov Hall 4.9.1995)/Chump (Live, Stockholm Erhus Vejby Risskov Hall 4.9.1995) (CD2, Reprise W0327 CD2, different p/s)

Brain Stew/Jaded/Good Riddance (Cassette, Reprise W0339 C)
Brain Stew/Jaded/Do Da Da/Good Riddance/Brain Stew (Clean Radio Edit) (CD1, Reprise W0339 CD)
Brain Stew/Jaded/Do Da Da/Good Riddance/Brain Stew (Clean Radio Edit) (CD2, Reprise W0339 CDX, brain shaped disc in clear sleeve)

Hitchin’ A Ride/Sick (Cassette, W0424 C)
Hitchin’ A Ride/Sick/Espionage (CD, Reprise W0424 CD, b-sides later included on “Shenanigans“)

Time Of Your Life (Good Riddance)/Desensitized/Rotting (CD1, Reprise W0430 CD1, cassette copies omit “Rotting“, both b-sides later on “Shenanigans“)
Time Of Your Life (Good Riddance)/Suffocate/You Lied (CD2, Reprise W0430 CD2, different p/s)

Redundant (Richard Dodd Medium Wide Mix)/The Grouch (Live, Philadelphia Electric Factory 14.11.1997)/Paper Lanterns (Live, Philadelphia Electric Factory 14.11.1997) (CD1, Reprise W0430 CD1)
Redundant (Richard Dodd Medium Wide Mix)/Reject All American (Live, Philadelphia Electric Factory 14.11.1997)/She (Live, Philadelphia Electric Factory 14.11.1997) (CD2, Reprise W0430 CD2, green p/s)

Minority (Radio Version)/Brat (Live, Tokyo Marumi Arena 27.1.1996) (Cassette, Reprise W532 C)
Minority (Radio Version)/Brat (Live, Tokyo Marumi Arena 27.1.1996)/86 (Live, Prague Sporthalle 26.3.1996) (CD, Reprise W532 CD)

Warning/Suffocate (Green Vinyl 7”, Reprise W548)
Warning/Scumbag/I Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely (Live, MTV’s Influences 2000) (CD1, Reprise W548 CD1)
Warning/Outsider/Suffocate (CD2, Reprise W548 CD2, orange p/s)

Waiting/She (Live, Tokyo 18.3.2001)/FOD (Live, Tokyo 18.3.2001) (CD1, Reprise W570 CD)
Waiting/Macy’s Day Parade (Live, Sendai 16.3.2001)/Basket Case (Live, Sendai 16.3.2001)/Waiting (Video) (CD2, Reprise W570 CDX, orange p/s)
Waiting (Audio)/(Video)/4 x Video Snippets (DVD, Reprise W570 DVD, orange p/s)

American Idiot/Too Much Too Soon (7” Picture Disc, Reprise W652, also on CD1 [W652 CD1])
American Idiot/Shoplifter/Governator (CD2, Reprise W652 CD2, different p/s)

Boulevard Of Broken Dreams/Letterbomb (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004) (7“ Picture Disc, Reprise W659, red p/s)
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams/Letterbomb (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004) (CD1, Reprise W659 CD1)
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams/American Idiot (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004)/She’s A Rebel (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004) (CD2, Reprise W659 CD2, red p/s)

Holiday/Minority (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004) (7” Picture Disc, Reprise W664, in clear sleeve)
Holiday/Minority (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004) (CD1, Reprise W664 CD1)
Holiday (LP Mix)/(Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004)/Boulevard Of Broken Dreams (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004) (CD2, Reprise W664 CD2, different p/s)

Wake Me Up When September Ends/Give Me Novocaine (Live, Culver City Sony Studios 15.2.2005) (7” Picture Disc, Reprise W674, in clear sleeve)
Wake Me Up When September Ends/Give Me Novocaine (Live, Culver City Sony Studios 15.2.2005) (CD1, Reprise W674 CD1)
Wake Me Up When September Ends/Homecoming (Live, Culver City Sony Studios 15.2.2005)/Hitchin’ A Ride (CD2, Reprise W674 CD2, unique p/s)

Jesus Of Suburbia (CD, Reprise W691 CD)
Jesus Of Suburbia/St Jimmy (Live, Culver City Studios 15.2.2005) (Yellow Vinyl 10”, Reprise W691 TE, in clear sleeve)
Jesus Of Suburbia (Video)/(Live, New York Irvin Plaza 21.9.2004)/Bullet In A Bible Trailer (DVD, Reprise W691 DVD, unique p/s)

The Saints Are Coming (Original)/(Live in New Orleans) (7”, Mercury 171 3138, numbered)
The Saints Are Coming (Original)/(Live in New Orleans) (CD, Mercury 171 3137)

Mother Mary/She’s A Saint Not A Celebrity (7”, Jingle Town W800, numbered)

Know Your Enemy (CD, Reprise W816 CD)

21 Guns/Favorite Son (Clear Vinyl 7”, Reprise W817, in clear sleeve)
21 Guns/Favorite Son (CD, Reprise W817 CD)

Note: another other CD singles not shown here that you might be aware of, are actually European only releases, and thus slightly outside the remit of this article. A number of b-sides have thus surfaced outside of the UK.

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