As a young kid growing up in Indiana, I didn’t know how to get into punk rock. A lot of people had a cool older brother or a guy who showed them how to huff glue down at the Marathon station teach them what punk rock was all about. I saw Green Day on MTV and I was like, yeah, that’s my shit. But I was in fifth grade and anyone I saw who looked kind of punk in real life scared me. So I would convince my parents to buy me $5 comps at bookstores or Sam Goody’s or whatever. As I got older and more comfortable being around people who dyed their hair and wore spiked belts, I found that the punk in my city fell into two categories: Christian punks and GG Allin super fans. They both sucked for different reasons; one grouped believed in jesus, the other was really into throwing poop. So I dug more into comps to show me the punk world outside of my own. Here’s my list in influential order.
1. Old-School Punk
This Compilation was put together by Joe Escalante (bassist of The Vandals) and showed the best bands of the 80s So-Cal punk scene. Watch the movie Decline of Western Civilization to see how scary and huge Los Angeles punk shows were at this time. And to see the infamous scene of Darby Crash and his Nancy Sprungen-esque girlfriend describing the house painter that died in their backyard. The range of sounds on here is awesome and I’m glad I got this at such a young age where I didn’t know what punk was “supposed” to be. To this day I still love The Adolescents, TSOL, Fear, and X.
This song about fucking dead people blew my mind:
2. Punk-O-Rama 2
Volumes 1 & 3 of this series were priced at $15. This one was always $5 so I picked it up. It was the first I’d heard of Me First & the Gimme Gimmes and it was probably another decade before I heard the original Billy Joel “Only the Good Die Young”. And man, Billy Joel fucking sucks, you guys.
So many cool bands I found out about through this: Descendents, NOFX, Rancid, Bad Religion. This really sealed my fate as being a lover of west-coast punk shit as a teen.
Here’s the stellar song about my favorite drink
3. Punk Uprisings Vol 2.
This was a specifically east-coast comp that was $5 at a Hot Topic I think. This was great just in the wide-range of styles of bands it has on here. The west coast was a lot of bands that made music you could skateboard to. This comp showed me the east coast was on some do the fuck whatever you want type shit. The political Ska-Punk of Against All Authority right into the anti-PC and anti-being listenable Anal Cunt. It was the first time I heard Anti-Flag and the weirdness of Atom and His Package. I first heard melodic pop-punk like Discount and Ann Beretta and was all ‘oh shit can be rocking and very poppy!’
I listened to this song over and over again thinking HOW THE FUCK IS THIS PUNK?
But it is and it rules:
4. Mail Order is Fun
This thing really got me (unfortunately) into my love for ska-punk. Mike Park was and is widely known as one of the nicest guys in punk rock. He also prices everything very cheap and puts out a lot of shitty bands (which is very punk). This wasn’t all ska though. Mike’s Slapstick connection meant he got to put out Chicago punk like Alkaline Trio and The Broadways.
To this day The Broadways are still one of my favorite all time bands.
5. Give Em The Boot
Look, I still stand by the fact that Rancid is a good band. They’ve made a few shitty albums recently, and they’ve gone severely overboard with their merchandising (- I don’t know if 46 7-inches and a commemorative bat is really ‘essential’) but their first four records are pretty fucking great. Then of course Tim Armstrong had his hand in this and is also reportedly good friends with these idiots goddamnit, now I’m hating them again. Back to the music! Rancid are heavily Clash influenced and as a result dip in and out of good ska and oi influences.As I would expect, this and the Asian Man comps hold up the worst, cuz, ya know-SKA.
Anyways, nowadays no one needs comps anymore because they have the internet. It’s not that it was better back then, in fact I would probably prefer the internet instead of reading one page liner notes from these comps over and over again.