Keep 'Em Separated

Along with Greenday, The Offspring are probably responsible for bringing melodic punk back into the mainstream. They certainly weren't the first band to play this kind of music but their meteoric rise through the ranks has seen them go from strength to strength whilst many of their contemporaries fell by the wayside. Fifteen years since their self titled debut album they have surely earned the right to release a Greatest Hits album.

Although this is of course a greatest hits compilation it would have been nice to have included a couple of tracks from the early days, as it is there is nothing on offer here from the first two albums. After the opening salvo of new single 'Can't Repeat' the album proceeds in chronological order with 'Come Out And Play', 'Self Esteem' and 'Gotta Get Away' all being taken from their massive breakthrough album 'Smash'. These were the songs that really broke The Offspring and it's not hard to see why, they have a raw quality that much of their later output lacks and anyone that remembers them first time around will vouch for the fact that they provided a much needed shot in the arm to a flagging punk scene.

For my money The Offspring were at their peak with 1997's 'Ixnay On The Hombre', they had the money from 'Smash' to up the production levels and the selection of tracks on offer here show that their song writing abilities had reached new heights. It's unfortunate that we only get two tracks from this album in 'All I Want' and 'Gone Away', the latter however showed a maturity to the band both in terms of lyrical content and song structure. For many the follow up 'Americana' took the band to new heights, certainly in terms of popularity, for others (myself included) it marked the end of the love affair with a much more commercial slant taking over. This is no better highlighted than in the back to back singles of 'Pretty Fly For A White Guy' and 'Why Don't You Get A Job', both of which pandered to the video age and saw a marked change in the sound. It wasn't all bad around this time though and 'The Kids Aren't Alright' is a great song but for some the spell had been broken.

With a new generation of fans lapping up everything thrown at them however the band went from strength to strength with 2000's 'Conspiracy of One' and the hit single 'Original Prankster'. The hits kept coming and amongst them were some superior songs such as 'Defy You', unfortunately these were overshadowed by the 'winning' and more commercial formula of songs like 'Hit That'.

For those that have always loved Offspring this is a good retrospective (first two albums aside) but there isn't anything here that you won't already have in one format or another (except perhaps the secret track at the end!). The older fans, whilst not begrudging the band the right to diversify and mature might just be happy to go and stick on the old albums and remember a band that really were something special.