UPDATED: 20 '90s Pop-Punk Albums Better Than Green Day's Dookie
UPDATE (Thursday, 11:15 a.m.): Corrects the pogo-worthy track on NOFX's Punk In Drublic to "Reeko." "Bob" is on 1992's White Trash, 2 Heebs and a Bean. Our bad.
Brace yourselves, kids. Green Day's Dookie turned 20 last month, and that means we've all got a case of the olds. Grab your walkers and follow us down memory lane.
Green Day's first major-label release, Dookie was a monster of an album that launched the band into the center of '90s pop culture and into the lives of kids in every corner of suburbia. More than 16 million copies have been sold to date, and it charted in seven different countries. Thanks to Dookie's success, most middle-school kids in the '90s were singing along about the harrows of meth and masturbation. Their fanbase's devotion to that album -- and to singer Billie Joe Armstrong's pseudo-punk stylings -- helped to solidify Green Day as one of the major players in the mainstreaming of punk rock, certainly great news for Armstrong and his bandmates Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool.
But it wasn't so great to our ears. Sure, Dookie was astoundingly successful, commercially, but its popularity never really made much sense to us. In fact, we don't like Dookie, not even sort of.
What we do like, though, are plenty of good pop-punk albums from that era, so we've listed them below. So happy anniversary, Dookie. Here are 20 pop-punk albums that should have kicked your ass way back when.
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20. Life On a Plate, Millencolin This album was released about a year after Dookie hit the shelves, but was never even close to becoming as commercially successful as its predecessor. However, the Swedish punk band had some pretty decent success in their homeland -- where it was certified gold -- and Epitaph re-released it in the United States a year later. Life On a Plate is is full of creative, super-catchy pop-ska, and we think it deserves a little skatepunk street cred.
19. Do Or Die, Dropkick Murphys Do Or Die was the first album released by Celtic punk rockers Dropkick Murphys, and is still a raspy bit of awesomeness. There's nothing like bagpipes to give an album a little legitimacy, and luckily Do Or Die has plenty. Also, remember "Finnegan's Wake?" In just that one song, Dropkick should have kicked Green Day's album down a few notches to where it belonged.
18. Battle Hymns, The Suicide Machines If you don't know The Suicide Machines, you've missed out, my friend. The Detroit natives were a bit pop, a bit punk, and a bit ska on their debut album, but went in a bit more of a hardcore direction on this followup. It's fast as hell, aggressive to its core and, best of all, it's straight up better than Dookie.
17. My Brain Hurts, Screeching Weasel The third studio album from Screeching Weasel, My Brain Hurts is the first in which the band took a more pop-punk direction. They shed a bit of the aggro stuff, toned it down, and the album went totally nuts. This album's popularity is a bit unusual considering how widely accepted it was by punk fanatics and outsiders alike, but perhaps that's because it's badass.
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16. Hello Rockview, Less Than Jake More ska-punk! And more trombones! This is the first album where trombonist Pete Anna joined Less Than Jake, and something about that horn combined with the album's comic-book theme elevates it well past Dookie.
15. A Comprehensive Guide to Moderne Rebellion, Good Riddance If you somehow missed out on Good Riddance, this fantastic album is the one to start with. The Santa Cruz, Calif. natives perfected their catchy hardcore sound on this second album, which would be worth its ranking just for their cover of the Kinks' "Come Dancing." Luckily it brings way more than that to the table,
14. The Shape of Punk to Come, Refused This album by the Swedish hardcore band Refused has found an audience well past the band's demise, and rightfully so. Shape of Punk... is anti-establishment as shit, from the lyrical musings to the amalgam of sounds. Pick it apart and you can find hints of everything from hardcore, punk, and pop to even jazz, yet everything makes sense as a whole. Refused broke up only a few months after the album was released, but the band remains a major part of the pop-punk sphere given its postmortem influence alone.
13. Goldfinger, Goldfinger More ska-punk and we aren't even ashamed, because Goldfinger's self-titled first album is worth every bit of its weight in trumpet and keyboard deliciousness. Go listen to "Here In Your Bedroom" if you don't believe us.
12. Everything Sucks, Descendents The fifth album by Descendents, Everything Sucks was also the Manhattan Beach group's first album to land on the charts. We don't know why they weren't more mainstream-popular during the '80s, but when they returned with this reunion album after nine years on the lam, people caught on quick. Unfortunately, it was right in the midst of all of the Dookie furor, so Everything Sucks still got overshadowed
11. Pussy Whipped, Bikini Kill Just go listen to "Rebel Girl." You'll understand why.
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10. Adios Amigos!, Ramones This 1995 release featured a slightly different sound than previous Ramones albums, and also broke the CBGB legends' Billboard curse, with "I Don't Want to Grow Up" hitting No. 30 on the Modern Rock charts. Joey's ailing vocals caused the band to slow down the tempo; with that more mature sound, they inadvertently created a masterpiece. The next year they broke up after more than 20 years together.
9. White Light, White Heat, White Trash, Social Distortion So, perhaps this album isn't quite pop-punk, but it still deserves some recognition for kicking Dookie's ass in every way possible other than on the charts. Released in 1996, White Light, is Social Distortion's fifth album and the final to feature guitarist Dennis Danell, who passed away from an aneurysm a few years later. Previous Social D albums were a bit more melodic and pop-influenced, but this is the album in which they took things old-school with awesome results.
8. Live Fast, Diarrhea, The Vandals This is by far the Vandals' best album. The Orange County pop-punk veterans are at their best on tracks like "And Now We Dance," but the whole thing is totally worth the space it'll take up on your electronic gadget. Dookie, on the other hand, is not.
7. Love Songs For the Retarded, The Queers Love Songs, the Queers' second full-length album, was released in April 1993, almost an entire year prior to Dookie. All that means to us is that somebody really screwed up, because this album should have had way more influence on the mainstream than the other one. "Fuck the World" was just way too edgy, we guess. Too bad -- the middle-school masses really missed out.
6. Hoss, Lagwagon Come on! The album cover has the dude from Bonanza on it! You know this album is legit by that alone. Lagwagon never aimed for a large mainstream following, and as noble as that is, it's a bit of a shame, because they have put out some seriously fantastic albums Still, Hoss is the top dog, so seek it out and you won't be sorry.
5. Stranger Than Fiction, Bad Religion The only Bad Religion album to be certified as gold, Stranger Than Fiction nevertheless deserved even more commercial success, given that "Infected" was splashed across MTV's airwaves at the same time when Dookie's "Longview" ruled the roost.
List continues on the next page.
4. Punk In Drublic, NOFX Come on. Just go throw on Punk In Drublic and tell us we're not totally and completely accurate in its placement. We dare you not to dance along in earnest with "Reeko."
3. ...And Out Come The Wolves, Rancid Every single song on ...And Out Come The Wolves is a masterpiece, from "Ruby Soho" to "Old Friend." This album plays out just as well as it did all those years back, and for that, we salute Tim Time Bomb and friends. Ain't nothin' wrong with this album at all.
2, Life In General, MXPX Say what you want about pop-punk as a genre, but if there was ever a band to do the genre some serious justice, it was the Bremerton boys known as MXPX.
1. Full Circle, Pennywise Released in 1997, Full Circle was recorded in the years following Pennywise founding member and bassist Jason Thirsk's death. Although Full Circle may not be as pop-heavy as the albums above, the sheer beauty of the band's devotion to processing their grief while paying tribute to their fallen bandmate is beautiful in its own right, and deserves way more credit than they've been given.
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