They are influential, controversial, sometimes offensive and almost always funny. They are NOFX, and they are also prolific - with a career that has so far offered up 11 studio albums, two live albums, 13 eps and so many 7" records that collecting them all is a vinyl junkie’s dream/nightmare.
Fortunately, with that many releases, they’re not opposed to making sure everyone has access to even their most obscure tracks without forcing anyone to pay top dollar, as is evidenced by their latest release, The Longest EP.
Playing off the title of 1992’s Longest Line EP (which is included on this compilation which also features cover art from the same artist), The Longest EP collects 30 songs from the majority of the band’s EPs over a stretch of time that runs from 1987’s The PMRC Can Suck On This all the way to last year’s stellar Cokie the Clown EP (which spawned frontman Fat Mike’s alter ego and lead to his infamous SXSW performance as Cokie the Clown.
There are also eight tracks that have never been released digitally, and a pair of songs that have never been released. Simply looking at everything this disc entails, it’s obviously a great collection – now let’s examine why.
First the previously unreleased tracks. "Perverted" is an outtake from 1996’s F**k the Kids EP, and is simple classic NOFX from the era – decent but nothing amazing, which is probably why it was left off. The other unreleased track, "Concerns of a GOP Neo-phyte," however, is pure angry political NOFX, and it really didn’t need to be left off of War on Errorism.
The first-time digital releases are all essential, though. And most of them have been pretty hard to lay hands on before now too, most obviously for you kids living in the digital era. The self-explanatory "I Wanna Be An Alcoholic" is a 30-second outtake from F**k the Kids that may have as well been never released, as it was only a 30-second promo video. And the entirety of The PMRC Can Suck On This (of which only one song had gone digital) is awesome, capturing NOFX in all their sloppy early glory, including "Dueling Retards," NOFX’s take on a song best known for being on the soundtrack to Deliverance.
And the two new tracks from the 13 Stitches EP include an acoustic "13 Stitches," which is a beautiful bit of punk rock reminiscing on shows and show injuries that sounds like an more upbeat precursor to the Cokie the Clown material. There is also a 7" version of "S/M Airlines" from 1988 that I will argue with Fat Mike is solid, even though he mentions in the liner notes that, due to out-of-key guitars, should only be listened to once.
Some of my favorite EPs that I own are on here – all of Cokie, and the tracks from Never Trust a Hippy and Bottles to the Ground that didn’t make it to the album as well – again a collection worth the price right there. And by including all of The Longest Lineyou get their classic reggae tune "Kill All the White Man" which, although it has appeared on a couple other compilations, is also a must have.
One of my favorite things about this compilation is that the songs are not presented in chronological order, instead bouncing back and forth across the band’s career. Even when it closes with the earliest (and most poorly recorded) material, it’s an obvious of how much the band has progressed in ability, and how little they’ve changed in view, attitude and pure juvenile humor. The more they’ve progressed, the more they’ve remained true to being NOFX, and for that I commend and love this band.
This is an essential release for the casual NOFX fan and would also make a great introduction to the band for any youngsters or folks who’ve been under a rock for the last few decades. And while the completists may already own much of this, just having the two unreleased tracks and the eight previously analog-only tracks make it worth picking up as well.
Release date: August 17, 2010