Introduction: For those of you that have stumbled across this website and are interested in reading about my trek through the universe of the Tidal streaming service, let me tell you a bit about what I did. Back in 2016 I thought it would be kind of cool to listen to artist’s catalog from start to finish and rank them from best to worst. After all, who doesn’t like a good list? I thought I might do a few of them and see what happened, hoping it would introduce me to records that were foreign to me in the arsenal of an artist I was familiar with. I also though that it would be pretty cool to get out of the “one off” mode of listening to a new record, years after the previous one, in order to get a true sense of how the artist matured over time. Flash forward to June of 2019 and 250 catalogs later, I have ended the trek. I posted these all on Facebook over the years as they were completed but I’m going to move them all over here, starting with #1, in order to expand them out a bit more. Facebook doesn’t exactly allow for great formatting, you know?
As with all my catalogs, to be considered in the ranking, an album has to meet certain criteria:
- The artist must actually perform on 80% of the tracks (soundtrack and rap provision)
- No compilations of previous released material will be included.
- The album must have been released officially and within the realm of the label that the artist would have been on at the time or official releases posthumously (normally applies to a slew of live records)
- Any EPs must contain new new music and be relevant to the catalog, not be more like a single with a b-side or two.
- Compilations of previously recorded material will be included if they are remixes, bonus tracks, outtakes… mostly music that hasn’t been part of a main release before)
Entrance Point: Like a lot of people, the first album I had heard from Green Day was Dookie, back when it first arrived and I’ve listed to every album since then and came into this as a fan of them.
Included: I chose to just use “1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours instead of the two individual EPs because it’s the more well known version of that era and the discs are similar enough that ranking the full combo didn’t seem off.
Not Included: Woodstock ’94 which was a record store day only release in 2019. It may be included in the future if I can track down a good version of it somewhere. American Idiot: Cast Recording. While this is obviously Green Day music, the album is performed by the cast and doesn’t really fall under my rules to include it.
All albums ranked on a 10 point scale:
- Nimrod (9.5)
Dookie is certainly the album that made Green Day a household name but Nimrod is really the album that changed their career path for good. Between Dookie and this record, there was Insomniac, which maintained a lot of the pop punk traits of the previous album while adding a few new sonic touches here and there. With Nimrod, they just decided to go for it and created all the music they had been thinking about over the years. There’s plenty of standard Green Day tunes like “Nice Guys Finish Last” “The Grouch” and “Redundant.” But of course there’s also “Good Riddance” which is the hit ballad you will hear forever, a surf rock tune (“Last Ride In”) and a track that almost pushes them to the metal side (“Take Back”). From start to finish, it’s the best listen in the catalog, with the most energy they’ve ever had on a disc.
- American Idiot (9.5)
And if Nimrod opened them up to new sounds, well, American Idiot pushed them completely over that edge. This album was of course a “Punk Opera” and while the disc starts out with the title track which sounds very much like a vintage Green Day track, must of the rest of the disc is alt rock at the core, with strings, epic guitar licks and tracks that stray very far from three chord punk. I’m not big on the “sell out” label as I appreciate when bands realize they need to adjust to stay relevant and when they pivot to something as great as this record, it’s certainly welcome. And somehow still in 2020 they are considered a punk band despite detractors saying they no longer belonged that family. The real key to the album is that the music is great and the story line told throughout the disc is consistent and good. And it’s not like they gave up all their punk roots. I mean, it’s slicked up for sure but a song like “St. Jimmy” harkens back to the Dookie days for sure. And with a couple of 9 minute songs that each have five “movements” in them, American Idiot sure was different at the time as rock operas like this hadn’t really been popular since the 70s. The album spawned its own stage show too! And you know what, it still holds up very well.
- Warning (9)
Warning is actually the album I go back to the most when I want to hear a Green Day record. This is a really underrated record that eschews the loud punk and moves to a mostly acoustic rock, folk and pop sound, with some of the best songwriting of Billie Joe’s career. I think it’s the songwriting that makes this stands out the most but I certainly do like the fact that is doesn’t sound like other Green Day records and yet, still feels like Green Day. Not many bands can make a record that both sounds like them and doesn’t sound like them at the same time. Haha.
- Dookie (9)
While not their first record, it’s the first one that commercial radio listeners had likely heard of back when it came out in 1994. I was not into punk then, so I wasn’t very familiar with Lookout records, where Green Day were before signing to Reprise for this disc. I anticipate that many people in my generation were introduced to mainstream punk music thanks to this disc and I will always have fond memories of my youth while listening to it but I don’t rank based on that. Musically, it’s great of course but there’s a few weak moments near the end. What it has are those songs that last forever, “Longview” “When I Come Around” “Welcome to Paradise” and more. Those are iconic at this stage. I can’t see anywhere that this was remastered and the original production doesn’t sound all that great today – as least after you listen to American Idiot and such.
- Revolution Radio (8.5)
- Kerplunk (7)
- Insomniac (6.5)
- Tre! (6)
- 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours (5.5)
Comprised of their first EP (1000 Hours), their first full length album (39/Smooth) and their second EP (Slappy), this is almost all the material before Tre Cool joined the band as the drummer and formed the Green Day lineup that we all know today. I only heard this album after Dookie, so I didn’t get to Green Day until they were huge. Listening to this now, other than the typical lo-fi punk production, it seems obvious that the band was going to be big but I don’t know if I would have figured that back then. You’ll listen to it now and hear the same pop-punk that Green Day is known for but it’s pretty clear that Billie Joe hadn’t yet gotten the full potential out of his voice and there’s quite a few songs that are pretty dull. But it’s a fun look back at the origins of the band.
- Uno! (5.5)
- Shenanigans (5.5)
- Awesome as F*ck (5)
- Dos! (5)
- 21st Century Breakdown (4)
So you might say, “but Dave, how can you love American Idiot and hate this since they are pretty much the same record?” Well, see that’s the thing right there. This is fucking lazy. With each consecutive album up until this point, Green Day has pushed their sound forward. With 21st Century Breakdown, they lazily decided to make another punk opera but with lesser quality songs. I get the draw to doing another one of these types of records since the first one was a major success but this second on was a bit much. There’s great songs on the disc (“21 Guns” “Horseshoes and Handgrenades”) but for the most part, the songwriting isn’t nearly as great this time around.
- Bullet in a Bible (3)
Summary: 15 albums, average 6.6