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GREEN DAY – AMERICAN IDIOT - WARNER MUSIC
Record Rating: ****

Green Day - American Idiot - Warner Music Take one part The Sex Pistols, one part Talking Heads and one part Falco, and you've got the basic foundation of Green Day, the punky, witty, melodic San Francisco Bay area trio who became overnight stars in 1994 when their album Dookie catapulted them to the top of the pop charts. Known best for bringing punk music in the mid 1990’s to the mainstream, these boys paved the way for countless knockoffs from Blink-182 to Crazy Town.

As a longtime listener to this band, I will always remember Green Day as being one of the first punk bands I really liked as a teenager. Led by guitarist/vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong and powerhouse drummer Tre Cool, the band returns after having been on hiatus for about four years. American Idiot turns out to be the smartest thing they’ve attempted yet, and I’m sure thanks to the fact that this won Best Rock Album at the 2005 Grammy Awards; you’ve probably heard extensively what it’s all about.

If you had to pick one band to don the least likely to create a rock opera mantle, this band would be among the most logical candidates. That makes the very existence of a record like this something of a surprise, and the excellence of its contents little short of a revelation. Songs like the Queen styled Are We The Waiting and the ballad Wake Me Up When September Ends delve into adult-oriented emotional distress with the same sort of incisiveness the band once applied to the teen angst of Basketcase. They waste no time in getting epic, as track two, Jesus Of Suburbia, is the first of two nine minute plus tracks, a form that Pete Townshend pioneered with The Who’s Tommy.

Since the last few releases, we've witnessed Green Day's exploration of rock beyond the pop punk they so deftly popularized in the mid-90s. And this time it’s no different. They’ve matured music-wise, and this is evident with the placing of quite a few slower numbers on American Idiot, and the number of songs that are literally schizophrenic in their quiet-noisy transitions. The 13 tracks are typical of this punk band: jagged shards of guitar riffage; thumping, echoic drumbeats and straight-up rock. Many longtime fans maybe crying sellout, but we have to applaud their ingenuity. They attempt to do a show tune here, criticize the American media and even take a jab at the US President: there are no half measures on this sprawling disc. Who would’ve thought that ten years after their breakthrough number one hit - Basketcase, and having released a greatest hits collection during the end of the nineties, that Green Day would still be around? But they are, and their newest release American Idiot is an unapologetic, unabashed rock opera, just the sort of thing the average rock head needs in the midst of this boy band musical crisis. Recommended.

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