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Rock Against Bush, Vol. 1 (Fat Wreck Chords)

Fat Mike, singer for the punk band NOFX, felt guilty that he never voted or cared much about politics. His apathy over, and outraged at the Bush administration's stubborn, go-it-alone-and-fuck-the-world policies, he decided to create the organization Punkvoter, which hopes to enlist registered punkers in an effort to boot Bush out of office. To raise money for the cause, Fat Mike solicited help from punk bands great and small, 26 of whom donated protest anthems to Rock Against Bush, Vol 1.

Several of the more famous bands (New Found Glory, Sum 41, the Get Up Kids) on the compilation were likely asked to appear only because of their ability to steer impressionable teens toward the record. But those kids may also dig some of the more intelligent material: a catchy, angst-filled tune from pop-punk pioneers Descendents, the groovy harmonies and spunk of the Soviettes, the 1990 classic "That's Progress" from Jello Biafra and DOA, and Denali, the best detour from all the pop-punk soundalikes on the record, whose singer Maura Davis has a dazzling voice.

Still, the record is a less-than-total success. There was a time when political punk bands like Crass, Dead Kennedys, Conflict and Fugazi wrote eloquent songs about political and social issues, which sparked their audiences to think and react. On this record, bands with crummy names like Anti-Flag, Strike Anywhere, Authority Zero and Against Me! are less likely to inspire anyone to do anything other than spike up their hair and give the finger to their mom.

More enlightening is the accompanying DVD, which features trailers to political documentaries like Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War, as well as uproarious TV ads from Moveon.org and a brilliant, hilarious video from NOFX called "Franco Un-American," in which Fat Mike expresses his guilt for years of punk rock apathy and makes up for it by wearing uncomfortable, politically correct canvas tennis shoes.

 
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