April 04, 2002

Less Than Jake "Goodbye Blue and White"

Curiousity led me to this record. I think it's a well-documented fact that I'm a real whore for singles-comps, and, as such, I thought I'd give Goodbye Blue & White a go. I never cared for ska, ska-punk, pop-punk, or anything of that ilk. Like that very-brief "swing revevial" a few years back, I always thought that ska, outside of the live arena, really didn't have much to say. It's totally cool to dance around and bop about to a loud, brassy band on stage. With many of these bands, the intensity of the live show was merely dwarfed by their studio work. It's like watching Rocky Horror Picture Show at home--a dull experence that thrives on live performance.

I'd have to say that Goodbye Blue & White is, if anything, quaint. These songs thrive on the vitality and youthful vigor. The album is dedicated to one of their touring vans, and the liner notes are full of stories about said van. What the liner notes are not full of, however, is information. Unless you look up a discography for Less than Jake, you won't know a thing about any of these songs, where they came from, who was in the band, or what year they were released. I'd be interested in seeing what songs are early-career, what songs are later years, etc., simply because I think records like this are good for scrapbook reminscence. The "all of these tracks are previously released on out of print & limited edition vinyl" is simply too vague for my taste.

The greatest problem with Goodbye Blue & White--if you can really call it a problem--stems from the fact that most of these songs are from singles. As far as I can tell, Less than Jake simply wanted to hit the listener with some really racuous rock and roll and then get the hell outta dodge--which, by the way, is perfect for the format of a fourty-five. A single, however, isn't an album, and when these singles are put side by side, Less than Jake's limited scope in musical ideas is quite transparent. One senses by listening to these songs that Less than Jake really wanted to capture the live feel in the studio. It's obvious that they are a real scorcher of a band live, but in the studio, the live sound simply makes the song fast and loud and loses some of the potential intricacies that their lineup can offer.

Don't get me wrong, Less than Jake aren't that bad of a band--they're simply not my thing. The best best would be to see them live, as I'm sure they're a lot more fun live. Judging from the numerous covers on Goodbye Blue & White--including the Outfield's "Your Love," "Teenager in Love," "I Think I Love You, and" "Freeze Frame"--you can pretty much rest assured that they're gonna entertain your ass. Or, better still, use it as soundtrack material on your next roadtrip with you and your friends in your shitty car--I'm sure the spirit of Blue & White will be with you.

--Joseph Kyle

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