International Superhits

Green Day

Reprise Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


At their worst, greatest hits packages are pathetic attempts to eke out more revenue from bands. This can come in the form of trying to make a 'greatest hits' album for an artist with one hit (read Vanilla Ice) or greatest hits packages that are released almost as often as full-length releases from bands (see Motley Crue, Poison).

At their best, greatest hits packages do wonders in playing the strengths of a band and condensing a band's history into a single or double album. The bands that fit in this category may have released several albums with few embarrassments, but each of their albums contain an equal amount of filler and hits. Greatest hits releases by Tom Petty and Rush are examples of how greatest hits packages added some legitimacy to their careers because listeners were able to hear the evolution of each artist. (Calling AC/DC management -- you guys need to come out with a double-disc greatest hits collection, pronto.)

Green Day is such an artist that needed a greatest hits collection. At first, I thought it was a lazy move by the band to spark up album sales (especially since sales of Warning were lukewarm). However, between Dookie and American Idiotmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , Green Day had generated albums that, though good, did not justify the $14.99 price tag. The fact that you could get the strongest songs from all of these albums on one album proved too irresistible.

It's not surprising that a good deal of Green Day's greatest hits collection, International Superhits, focuses on their breakthrough smash Dookie. It's still amazing at how many hits that album generated. Still, even ten years after its height, I still have to fast forward through tracks like "When I Come Around" and "Basket Case." Still, I'll find myself cranking "Longview." While many summer songs deal with going to the beach and hanging out with friends, "Longview" nails what summer means for most students: in a house, bored as hell, watching TV and a serious loss of motivation.

Billy Joe Armstrong remains one of the most underrated songwriters in mainstream rock. Just read the opening of "Welcome to Paradise": "Dear mother, can you hear me whining? / It's been three whole weeks since I have left your home / This sudden fear has left me trembling." Now, close your eyes and imagine this being sung by one of the more acclaimed singer/songwriters out there, such as Tori Amos or Paul Westerberg. It's not that far of a reach to hear either of these artists sing such a confessional line. The marketing crew for International Superhits certainly hoped to bring forth to light Armstrong's songwriting: all of the lyrics are printed on the album, a rarity for most greatest hits packages.

Of course, Green Day is more than Billy Joe Armstrong. With International Superhits, the entire band emerged in a better light after looking through the 20-plus tracks shine new light on the period what casual fans know as "in between Dookie and American Idiot." The nihilistic tone of "Brain Stew" and "Jaded" show the risks Green Day took by making Insomniac a darker album than Dookie. And songs like "Redundant" and "Minority" show a growing maturing in the musicianship of drummer Tre Cool and bassist Mike Dirnt. In short, listening to International Superhits almost makes you want to head down to the used record store and pick up the albums you missed.

International Superhits was the perfect setup for American Idiot. It's also the first greatest hits package that's come out that I haven't had to hold back a snicker. With the exception of a few songs missing from Kerplunk (released on Lookout), it's as perfect as a greatest hits package can get. Debate will still rage on in the punk community whether Green Day is a punk band, but what is undeniable is their consistent ability to write songs with affecting lyrics and killer hooks for nearly 15 years.

Rating: A-

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© 2005 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Reprise Records, and is used for informational purposes only.