Green Day's Demolicious

Green Day has maintained a low profile since they released three full albums of music, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré!, in 2012, and now return with a collection of demos from the same recording sessions. The aptly yet not originally named, Demolicious, clever portmanteau notwithstanding, is slight, yet infectious. Released on Record Store Day 2014 the collection purports to give fans what bassist Mike Dirnt wrote on his instagram account: how ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! would have sounded if we were still on Lookout Records!"

The record is certainly more immediate than what the band has been doing in recent years. "99 Revolutions" kicks it off with a poppy burst of inspiration that is more stripped down than the version on ¡Tré!, but sounds more like it would fit nicely alongside Insomniac's "Stuart and the Ave." one of that album's more melodic songs. The intro of "Angel Blue" sounds like the Clash before Billie Joe Armstrong's vocals shift the song into Buzzcocks by way of Replacements territory. The pace recalls minor label Green Day, but the production is far better. These are extremely well produced demos and it would be nice if they were a bit rawer.

Many of these tracks are more contagious in this form and include banter at the end. The band is having fun and it shows. "Let Yourself Go" sounds weightier in the stripped down form. "Sex, Drugs, and Violence" melds newer Green Day with old and you can hear the show tunes seeping through. The guitar playing is more evident; the solos resonate on these versions. The sixties feel on tracks, such as "Fell For You," with its girl group "Leader of the Pack" vibe, the pseudo ska meets the Stray Cats lilt of "Stray Heart," and eighties feel of others like "Stay the Night" and the Kinksian "Makeout Party" showcase the group's songwriting range, while showcasing the loose, shambolic mood evident at the sessions. Billie Joe and company are consummate students of the game, and are continually showing off musical and lyrical influences that would never have been apparent on the earlier records.

The only song that didn't appear on the trilogy in a more finished form is "State of Shock," which also feels like an earlier Reprise b-side, which might not be out of place on a Dookie single. For example, compare their cover of the Kink's "Tired of Waiting for You" on Shenanigans. The track trucks along in speedfire stripped down 4/4 time and has a less finished feeling than the rest of the album, qualifying more as a demo than many of the other tracks. 

The humor alone makes Demolicious an essential listen for fans. Those who have fallen off the wagon may enjoy these takes because the band is having fun and it shows, an element that seems all but missing on their later albums. One detraction is that the album is still too long. While it's cool to hear all of these songs in demo form, a shorter album might have better captured the spirit of the Lookout Records!  period. It all adds up to a fun and contagious listen that showcases the songs in a less overbearing manner than the one-two-three punch of the trilogy, which was hard to digest for even the most diehard fans.


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