I was willing to take Paul’s word for it. After all, it wasn’t every day that he recommended a new album to me….but Green Day? Weren’t these guys just in it for the goof? Their first hit album, Dookie (1994), came across that way, and they had done nothing since then to change my mind. Don’t get me wrong….I can enjoy a band that’s all about the yuks (the Knack & Devo come to mind), but I have to like the sound, and Green Day simply did not connect with me on that most important level. I did enjoy the single off the new album ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’, but it’s a far stretch from a hit single to a solid album.
Paul was right, however….very much so! This album began to grow on me from the minute I popped it into the cd player. I listened to it (loudly) for weeks driving into work, and was reminded of just how great a feeling it could be to experience an instant classic, particularly from an unexpected source like Green Day. The song ‘
Many musicians have proven they can pen the occasional hit song, but in my mind, it’s the entire album that is the true measure of a bands success in the studio. This is something you see much less of today. With the advent of MP3 and downloading music, the heyday of the studio album may have passed us by. It would be a pity if this were the case. Whether a true concept (‘Tommy’, ‘The Wall’, ‘School Boys in Disgrace’) or not, a good album has a certain feel and flow that can go much deeper with a theme (musically and lyrically) than a hit song can do on its own. The album ‘Who Are You’ by the Who has a loose theme related to the advent of punk rock and ‘out with the old (music), in with the new’. ‘Blood on the Tracks’ is a Bob Dylan autobiography. ‘Revolver’ by the Beatles may be the first great album, with a flow to the songs, one to the next, from beginning to end. . ‘Exile on Main Street' by the Rolling Stones lifts each song to another level, simply based on the fact that together they make for a great album. Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On' is an extraordinary collection of songs written about social awareness.
To honor the album-centric focus of 'American Idiot', this week’s Gem Video will extract nothing from it. Instead, the Gem Video is a follow up single, Green Day's cover version of John Lennon's 'Working Class Hero'. I think it's the best studio cover since the Jimi Hendrix version of 'All Along the Watch Tower', and it's clear listening to it that the intensity Green Day brought to the album immediately preceding it was no flash-in-the-pan.
So, a thank you to Green Day, for keeping the faith alive, and to brother-in-law Paul for recognizing a great album when he hears one, and insisting I do so as well.
Gem Music Video: Working Class Hero