Friday Flashback: Warning

Hello, fearless readers! I have decided that I’m going to create a new weekly feature I like to call “Friday Flashback.” Every Friday (when I remember/have time) I intend to write a post about some album, game, book, movie, etc. that was released earlier than 2010. That’s kind of a randomly chosen year, but basically I figure that there’s a lot of stuff from before 2010 that I want to review, and it doesn’t always work with the other things I might want to review. That said, this isn’t going to be a catch-all feature for anything released earlier than 2010. Rather it will act as a reflective look back at some of the best (and/or worst) releases from decades past.

With that in mind, I present to you the very first Friday Flashback post!

This week I’m finally getting around to a post I’ve been thinking about for a while now. I recently got my hands on a copy of Green Day’s album Warning, released in 2000 on the Reprise label. I have to say, I wasn’t expecting too much from it; I have Dookie and while there are a number of tracks I like, it’s not one of my favorite albums. I just tend to like more recent Green Day than early Green Day. But Warning took me by surprise, and it’s become one of my favorite albums. Yeah, it’s that good.

Let me start of by saying Warning is a vastly underrated album. In general, it was one of the least well-received albums Green Day released, and in all honestly, I don’t believe that there is a legitimate reason for that. Sure, it’s not the dirty 3-chord punk off of Dookie, and it’s not a sprawling rock opera like the follow-up American Idiot, but it’s still a very solid album, with all the things you’d expect from Green Day. Let’s take a look with my specialty: the infamous track-by-track breakdown.

Warning: The title track opens up with a catchy little guitar/bass riff; in my opinion, it’s some of Dirnt’s best work prior to Green Days newest releases on iUno! and iDos! It’s a fun tune, and a good way to open an album. Nothing terribly special about it, but it serves its purpose to open the album on a strong note.

Blood, Sex and Booze: Classic punk sound with a hard-hitting chorus that’s likely to get stuck in your head. Though the album as a whole sees the start of Billie losing his infamous nasal vocals, they’re pretty noticeable on this one. Also noticeable is how overtly kinky the lyrics come across; aside from the oft-debated “he/she” confusion regarding the “whore” in “Basket Case,” I can’t think of another song (again, prior to the new albums) with so much overt sexual content — save for the strange “Dominated Love Slave” off of 1992’s Kerplunk.

Church on Sunday: One of my favorite tracks off the album, this one’s a classic Green Day song. Using maybe 3 or 4 chords, as per punk tradition, the band manages to create a song that’s simultaneous a sweet love song and a fast-paced rock song. It’s catchy, simple, and everything you could want from a song. The final chorus also has an interesting counterpoint between Billie’s drawn out but smooth delivery of the lines and the syncopated, staccato hits on the drum and guitar.

Fashion Victim: I never remember the title of this one, but it’s another track with a great, simple guitar riff driving the beat of the song. The nasal vocals are pretty heavy on this one too, but you don’t really notice since it’s just such a fun track.

Castaway: Though there are really only two major guitar riffs in the song, Dirnt’s subtle but expert bass lines make up for the simplicity, as does Trè’s masterful drumming, which really drives the song along with some well placed fills. It’s classic Green Day through and through, and it just works.

Misery: This is the only track that I really find completely out of place. It’s a really odd track; the sparse, simplistic melodies that sound like something from a demented circus and Billie’s vocals sounding like… well, they’re creepy, let’s put it that way. It’s not a bad track by any means, but it’s definitely quite odd, to say the least. The drum rolls placed liberally throughout only add to Holthe eerie circus vibe. There’s also the strange, vaguely Spanish guitar/trumpet solo that follows what I think is a mandolin solo. If Green Day did an album comparable to The Beatles’ White Album, this would fit nicely on it.

Deadbeat Holiday: I’m pretty sure the band was listening to this one when they were working on the second half of “American Eulogy” off of 21st Century Breakdown. There’s just something in the vocal melody that strikes me as strangely similar. Not much else to say about this one though. It’s just a great track. Another one of the absolute gems off the album.

Hold On: Though not at all a bad track, this one’s probably my least favorite. It just doesn’t really do much for me. I do like the Dylan-esque harmonica riff though. A nice touch on an overall lackluster track.

Jackass: After a little intro on some sort of acoustic stringed instrument, the song blasts into the real intro, which is vaguely reminiscent of The Who’s “My Generation.” Overall a pretty good track. Typical Green Day guitars and vocals; what really makes the track stand out, though, is the fantastically awesome saxophone solo in the middle of the song. It’s not even all that long, but it really makes the track. The only complaint I have is that the ending is sort of abrupt and jarring — it doesn’t quite end on the note you expect it to.

Waiting: Another personal favorite, and also a fairly popular track overall. It’s catchy, memorable, has pretty good lyrics, excellent if simple guitar riffs with a minimalist but masterful solo, and is just an excellently crafted track. The only thing I can hold against it is a personal issue — that is, I already had the song before I got the album, and had learned it on guitar, so it’s become a bit played out for me. But only a bit.

Minority: I almost want to say that this is the track that started the path to the politically charged rock operas that made Green Day bigger than ever. At first, it sounds like a neat little acoustic track… before you’re buffeted by some of the most powerful guitars and drums on the album. The verses are politically charged, but when compared to the blaring chorus, they aren’t really too memorable or powerful. Still a fun track though, and one which could definitely be used to rally protesters.

Macy’s Day Parade: This one is probably my absolute favorite on the album. It’s a soft, almost acoustic track, but the imagery and emotion are just so powerful. Though not Billie’s smoothest vocals — remember, he was still transitioning from the nasal period — there’s still something about the song that’s both haunting and sweet. It’s one of those tracks that you can’t get out of your head, but it doesn’t get annoying. Put simply, it’s one of those increasingly rare perfect songs — and while Green Day has put out quite a few which I’d include in this category, this one shines as one of the best.

So there you have it. I really wasn’t expecting to love this album as much as I do, but I’m very pleasantly surprised. Though it’s easily the most underrated and overlooked Green Day album, it’s more than worth a listen, because it’s some of their best material. So get to Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Best Buy, wherever you get your music, and check it out.

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