Mild In The Streets: Fat Music UnpluggedFat Wreck Chords
By AJ Phink
Who doesn’t love a Fat Wreck Chords compilation, they were a great way to hear new bands, and tracks from upcoming releases, for next to no money, as a bonus there were always a few exclusive tracks thrown into the mix. Along with Epitaph Records Punk-O-Rama series they were responsible for introducing a new generation of fans to some amazing bands. This time round things have changed as this compilation has been done with a different approach, Mild In The Streets: Fat Music Unplugged is, in case you hadn’t guessed, a collection of songs from bands and singers from the Fat Wreck Chords stable who have traded in their amplifiers and distortion pedals for acoustic guitars.
This sixteen track compilation is a lengthy affair and content is so varied that you can’t summarise the album, so i’m going to a whistle stop tour of Mild In The Streets: Fat Music Unplugged. Tony Sly, of No Use For A Name, opens the album with a soulful piano led version of Under The Garden and The Swingin’ Utters deliver an excellent foottapping country version of Fruitless Fortunes featuring slap bass and violin. Stacey Dee delivers a melancholy number, Everything Is Beautiful, this is one of the songs that is exclusive to this album and to anyone familiar with Bad Cop/Bad Cop this number will come as something of a surprise, this is juxtaposed against Sam Sadowski, of Closet Friends, who delivers some sore throated acoustic blues.
Going acoustic won’t come as a surprise from everyone on this compilation, for Old Man Markley it’s practically second nature, they deliver a mellower version of Guts ‘N Teeth. For others the acoustic approach doesn’t change anything apart from the volume, it clearly doesn’t matter if you take Anti-Flag’s electric guitars away as they remain as angry and political as ever, Israeli punks Useless ID retain their own sound, they keep the character of their hard edged pop punk intact and Matt Skiba delivers a sinister version of Alkaline Trio‘s Continental. Karine Denike bring a touch of fifties glamour to proceedings, this couldn’t be further away from the Dance Hall Crashers upbeat ska if it tried and Get Dead deliver some stripped down punk rock
We’re on the final leg of the tour now, Lagwagon‘s Joey Cape delivers a mellow acoustic number, American Steel bring some upbeat acoustica that features a mournful accordion break and Laura Jane Grace brings a great number that carries a restrained version of the fury that inhabits Against Me‘s output. The closing trilogy of songs continue to deliver, Russ Rankin brings us a heartrending tale of the loneliness of the road and the toll it takes on relationships, Uke-Hunt do a cover of Olivia Newton John‘s Xanadu, this is rather excellent, like an unplugged Me First And the Gimme Gimmes, and for it’s grand finale the album ends with an epic symphonic version of one of my favourite NOFX tunes, The Decline, personally I wish Fat Mike had done vocals over this rather than just an instrumental but it’s a faithful and bombastic end to an excellent compilation.
Compilations are usually a mixed bag but there is little to dislike on here, the versions are all original and unique takes on songs we have come to know and love, the original tracks don’t feel like they were ideas that were rescued from the wastepaper bin. This, as with every other Fat Wreck Chords compilation, is an essential purchase, if you’re a fan of any of the bands that appear on here I doubt that you’ll be disappointed with new versions or the original material. Mild In The Streets: Fat Music Unplugged brings something new to the table on almost every track, the album spans so many genres and styles that it never gets dull, buy this and mellow out for an hour or so.
Mild In The Streets: Fat Music Unplugged is available for download and on CD, Vinyl and Coloured vinyl here