Usually a compilation disc is nothing more than a collection of songs that have been lumped together to form an incoherent album that ends up being nothing more than a drink coaster. When you take a different set of songs, songs that are either unreleased B-sides, hard to find tracks from vinyl or imports or even if those songs are regular album tracks but are songs by bands that you have just discovered with that particular compilation and the disc is maxed with 80 minutes of undiscovered bands, then you may just have something great. Personally, if it wasn’t for the cheap-O comps that I would pick up in the bargain bins, I probably would never have gotten into 90% of the bands that I am into today.
With downloading and iPods, compilations have gone the way of the dodo. Ten years ago, they were vital to exposing underground ska and punk bands to the masses. These are some of the compilations that exposed themselves to me and changed my life forever.
10) On Your Mark…Get Set…GO! (Vegas Records):
I paid $1.99 for this comp in the back of a National Record Mart. It was split up with songs from three different record labels: Steady Beat Recordings, a collection of trad-ska bands such as Yeska and Irie Beats; Stiffdog Records, a mix of third-wave and trad-ska hybrid bands like the Adjustments and the Derringers, and Vegas Records recording artists such as third-wave favorites Jeffries Fan Club, My Superhero and Action League. This disc was a great introduction to some more obscure bands even though by this time I had heard of most of these bands already.
9) Honest Don’s Welcome Wagon (Honest Don’s):
Welcome Wagon makes a great companion to Greatest Shits although the track listing was weaker. There were some good tracks from the Mad Caddies, J Church, Dance Hall Crashers and the Teen Idols though.
8) Mailorder is FUN! (Asian Man Records):
What can I say? Asian Man Records is the greatest record label in the world…hands down. They sent me this for free with an order that I placed for some MU330 CD’s. Slapstick, Link 80, Slow Gherkin, The Chinkees, Bruce Lee Band, Less Than Jake, J Church, the Hippos, Ann Beretta and MU330 make up just a fraction of the 29 tracks on this behemoth. It’s a ska-punkers dream!
7) Honest Don’s Greatest Shits (Honest Don’s):
Other than having one of the greatest album covers of all time, Honest Don’s Greatest Shits is indeed just that, great. It seemed to have the best songs from some great bands including the Mad Caddies, Anti-Flag, Dance Hall Crashers, Hagfish, Fluf and the Teen Idols. Did I mention that the album cover is great?
6) Punk-O-Rama 3 (Epitaph Records):
Most people think that Punk-O-Rama 2 is the best Punk-O-Rama. Well, I’m not most people. The third installment of Epitaph’s Punk-O-Rama series features one of the greatest selections of punk rock this side of the Great Wall. You get 25 tracks of songs from punk legends like ALL, NOFX, the Bouncing Souls, Rancid, the Dwarves, H2O, Down By Law, Agnostic Front, Bad Religion and Pennywise all the while leaving room for some quaint little diddys by the Voodoo Glow Skulls, Millencolin, Gas Huffer, Union 13 and Osker to name just a few. This was a punk rock compilation at it’s finest with a price tag that even your momma would be happy to pay for.
5) Short Music For Short People (Fat Wreck Chords):
All that I can say about this compilation is that it is one of the coolest ideas for a comp ever. Just about every punk band in existence at the time submitted a thirty-second song for a total of 101 tracks…everyone from Green Day and Blink 182 to the Circle Jerks and the Dickies are on here. There’s even a track from GWAR! It’s also a great go to disc when you’re making a mix disc and you only have a few seconds left over at the end of it.
4) Hopelessly Devoted To You Too (Hopeless Records):
By far the best Hopelessly disc out of the bunch, Hopelessly Devoted To You To was one of those compilations that opened my eyes to some of my favorite bands to this day. From the first track, “All Fall Down” by Against All Authority to Mustard Plug’s “Lolita” and the Queers version of “Like A Parasite”, I was hopelessly devoted to Hopeless Records and thus my mailorder fetish kicked into high gear.
3) Give Em The Boot (Hellcat Records):
In 1997, the height of the ska explosion, I was just getting into this new type of music that I had never heard before. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish, No Doubt, Save Ferris, Sublime and the Suicide Machines had piqued my interest the year before. And then Give Em The Boot came out. I don’t know what it is that caused me to pick up this compilation, with Rancid being the only band on there that I had heard of at the time, but I picked it up and I don’t know where I would have been without it. I was introduced to some amazing bands such as the Slackers, Hepcat, the Pietasters, the Voodoo Glow Skulls, the Dropkick Murphys, Choking Victim, the Stubborn All Stars, the Swingin’ Utters the US Bombs and the Gadjits. There was no going back to modern rock radio now.
2) Hey Brother…Can You Spare Some Ska? (Vegas Records):
The purchase of Give Em The Boot inspired me to raid the Various Artists and Compilation sections of every single music store that I could find. Hey Brother Volume 1 was one of those discs that were raided. This compilation took me even further into the third wave underground introducing me to the Hippos, Jeffries Fan Club, Link 80, My Superhero, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, the Bruce Lee Band and Low Pressure. I had a tough time deciding between this comp and the next comp for the number one slot but with a stronger track listing, in at number one is…
1) Ska Sucks (Liberation Records):
I still listen to Ska Sucks a lot today. By the time that I had picked up Ska Sucks, I had heard of a handful of bands on it already…probably the reason that I picked it up in the first place since there were different tracks from those bands on it. Ska Sucks just had so many great songs by so many of the best that third wave had to offer from just about every ska record label out there. Hepcat, Let’s Go Bowling and Unsteady had the more traditional ska sound covered. For the ska punkers, Less Than Jake, Mustard Plug, Link 80, Slapstick, the Mephiskapheles, Choking Victim, the Chinkees, Against All Authority, Jeffries Fan Club, the Dance Hall Crashers and the Pietasters have you covered. You even have your not so prototypical ska band show up now and again with tracks from Limp, Millencolin and Home Grown. In my mind, Ska Sucks is one of those rare compilations that, if I were going to make a mix CD, I would probably make the exact same thing.
Can Of Pork, Give Em The Boot Volume 2, Punk-O-Rama Volume 2, Fat Music V: Live Fat, Die Young, Hey Brother 2