Perfect LP: Green Day

News / Perfect LP / Special Features / December 11, 2015

Perfect LP is a feature in which the Modern Vinyl writers take on the tall task of summarizing an artist or band’s career in an LP sized selection of tracks. Bypassing what was the single, what was the “hit” and what fans call for throughout shows, it’s time to decide what makes up the Perfect LP.

The Rules

The selections will total no more than 50 minutes. The selections are arranged in logical fashion, as in how you’d like to hear them in a real tracklisting.

The Subject

Three punks from the bay area who came together as teenagers, forming what is now known as Green Day.

The Tracks

The Explanation

Let’s get one thing out of the way. This includes nothing from the last four Green Day records. You could argue for songs on 21st Century Breakdown and I’d respect that. Hell, I even bought the deluxe version of the album, but the art caught my attention more than any of its music did. Personally, I can’t really remember many of the songs that weren’t singles and this LP already has plenty of those. Finally, with the band’s International Superhits!, it was difficult to avoid some of those songs simply because of how great they are. I tried to carefully pick and choose songs from each album and sprinkle in some great cuts that didn’t get the single treatment. Casual fans may not know some of the songs listed below, but I felt they deserved a place in the list.

The Selections

Burnout (from Dookie)

It was difficult not starting with the opening track of the album that launched Green Day into their illustrious, mainstream career. “I’m not growing up/I’m just burnin’ out” reeks of angst and it’s something teenage us likely related to at one point or another. I don’t know about you, but some days I’m still convinced “I’m not growing up.”

American Idiot (from American Idiot)

You can’t not talk about this song or album when you mention Green Day. The band decided to take a stand against the Bush administration (and the government in general) in the best way they knew how…with music. This kicks off what is currently the band’s last great release. The track may be overplayed in regard to radio, but it still deserves a spot.

When I Come Around (from Dookie)

We’ve already hit two songs from Dookie, but this one’s a classic. Billie Joe sings about a relationship that seems to be walking the fine line of breaking up, or just waiting to see if things work themselves out as Billie “comes around.” The song was the fourth single off the record, but ended up being the most notable. It’s catchy and slows things down slightly, deviating from their use of fast-paced power chords.

Minority (from Warning)

This song is just, flat out, fun to sing along to. Don’t try to tell me you haven’t found yourself wanted to yell out “down with the moral majority” or “a free for all, fuck ’em all” while listening. It’s an anthem for the underdogs, the minorities, and anyone else who can relate. One of a few willing to come out and say they wanted to be the minority, they made the odd request work in this track. 

Espionage (from Shenanigans)

Yes, I’m aware I put an instrumental on this. It’s playful and definitely sounds like something from a spy movie. Or maybe some follow up to “Rock Lobster,” who knows. It has a surf rock vibe and you’ll get a kick out of it. It’s good to have a break from lyrics once in a while.

Knowledge (Operation Ivy cover from Slappy)

Green Day has often cited Operation Ivy as one of their biggest influences, so I felt this was a necessary cover to add into the mix. This is also the first song on here that was released prior to them launching into stardom. Operation Ivy originally released it in 1989 and Green Day put it on their EP Slappy, which was then put on the compilation of their early works 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours.

Stuck With Me (from Insomniac)

This song oozes spite towards the elite. Immediately, Billie Joe announces “I’m not part of your elite” and despite their huge success, I’m sure the band honestly felt this way. They’ve always just been punks playing music. “Stuck With Me” is Billie Joe’s way of saying he’ll be here despite what the elite think or do.

Platypus (I Hate You) (from nimrod.)

Here’s a non-single, hard hitting track and likely a song most casual Green Day fans might not know. This song is 100 percent about hatred. It’s lyrics are harsh and exactly what you’d expect from Billie Joe when he’s mad at someone. Sometimes you just need to let it all out and that’s exactly what this song does. Give this a listen the next time you need to blow off some steam.

Macy’s Day Parade (from Warning)

Let’s slow things down a bit with the acoustic standout. This one is about how material things don’t tend to last, but you’re still looking for satisfaction in any way you can. It gets grim and even mentions Night of the Living Dead. What more could you want in a Green Day song?

1,000 Hours (from 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours)

Did you think Green Day only sings about negative things? Here’s a love song for you. Head over heels, Billie Joe wants to spend time with his love and never part from her. Although, 1,000 hours is only about 42 days, so there’s some irony, considering that’s a pretty short stay. But hey, at least he’s trying…right?

Best Thing In Town (from Kerplunk!)

It took a while, but we’ve arrived at the first of two songs off of Kerplunk! to make the list. “Best Thing In Town” was originally released as a bonus track for the CD and cassette releases only. It’s a track I wish would have been included on the original, but it’s easy enough to find a digital version of it now. “Best thing in town /best thing around” is describing a relationship that seems great and confusing all at the same time. He’s watching her pout, yet doing things he’s never seen. It’s the typical fast-paced power chords, but enjoyable. It’s not always the singles that make an LP a great listen.

Jesus of Suburbia (from American Idiot)

I’m normally not a fan of songs that run over 5 minutes, let alone 9, but this is one of the best cuts from American Idiot and you don’t even notice its length given the act structure. There are five in the song and each tells it’s own mini story. You know you started paying closer attention to “graffiti in bathroom stalls” thanks to the “City of the Damned” portion. Five different snapshots of a life were carefully interwoven to bring this song to life in a stunning fashion.

Who Wrote Holden Caulfield? (from Kerplunk!)

This one may have made the list simply because of the The Catcher in the Rye reference. This song races just about as fast as Holden’s mind and is a fairly accurate portrayal of the character. It’s not a single and not a song casual fans may know, but it’s definitely a nice little gem off the band’s second record. A favorite book mixed with a favorite band makes for a great crossover as we start to close out the selections.

Good Riddance (Time if Your Life) (from nimrod.)

Did you really think it wouldn’t end this way? High school and college graduations, sports banquets, going away parties, and many other occasions use this song to say how people feel without having to actually speak. This song says a lot and does so in little time. It can make people cry, it can make people happy, and there’s just no other way to end the perfect Green Day LP.

Let us in on your own Perfect LP, below. 

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Deanna Chapman

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