Green Day
Kerplunk


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
November 6th, 2007 | 42 replies | 23,026 views


Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Green Day's second and final underground release, Kerplunk is one fine album that pretty much owns everything Green Day's put out in the last decade.

Having just read Catcher In the Rye and noticing the literary reference on the back cover of Kerplunk, a thought comes to mind: Holden Caulfield would ***ing hate Green Day. What with the politics, the eye makeup, the punky-punk black shirt/red tie uniforms, let’s face it: Green Day are big fat phonies. Cue whining for another five paragraphs about the punk rock opera that doesn’t exist, the change from punk to emo music, and the total abandonment of their roots.

But disregarding the maligned (and honestly not that bad) American Idiot, Green Day makes (or has made) some good music. Their older stuff is fun, honest, and just frickin’ catchy pop punk. I’m not talking about the Nimrod-ian “hey-guys-we’re-mature-because-we-play-acoustic-guitar” old stuff. I’m talking way old. Like Kerplunk old. Looking back on those underground days where the production was low-fi and the color scheme was green and white, it’s enough to make even the most jaded of fans grin again as they discover that their once favorite band held that honor for a reason.

Kerplunk was Green Day’s final release before being signed to Warner Brothers and setting the world aflame with songs about masturbation and pot, and it’s clear why. Kerplunk, despite the production value of a tin can, sounds like seasoned vets playing what they play best on a level above everyone else. The songs off Kerplunk run with a furious speed and affect with the heart of a teenager. Opener “2000 Light Years Away” sets the tone of the album with a driving beat by brand new drummer Tre Cool (it was funny in 1991), and a simple guitar line that would become trademark from Billie Joe. Armstrong sings “I sit alone in my bedroom staring at the walls. I've been up all damn night long, my pulse is speeding, my love is yearning. I hold my breath and close my eyes and dream about her, cuz she's 2000 light years away” with an unrefined wail that’s just unprofessional enough to be charming. The introspective nature of Billie’s lyrics, lost in succeeding albums, makes Kerplunk all the more savory. ”When I was younger I thought the world circled around me, but in time I realized I was wrong. My immortal thoughts turned into just dreams of a dead future. It was a tragic case of my reality” sounds too personal to be found on Insomniac and too honest to be found on American Idiot. What Kerplunk gives, unknowingly at the time of its release, is the best of both Green Day worlds: The energetic punk music of yore and the self examining lyrics abandoned until the latter days of “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Macy’s Day Parade” cheese, only this time the lyrics are placed in songs that come off like anthems with their candor.

Now, at a stretching-it sixteen tracks, Kerplunk doesn’t make it to the finish without its fair share of weaker tunes, but there’s enough musical talent on the album to make up for the sometimes crude songwriting. Bassist Mike Dirnt and Tre connect throughout Kerplunk to give many tunes intricacy and drive, a useful asset when Billie Joe’s songwriting suffers an occasional dip into mediocrity. Armstrong gets in on the act himself, playing some actual guitar solos, which incidentally disappeared at the same time the indie cred did. As a trio, Armstrong, Dirnt, and Cool have a noticeable amount of chemistry, most evident on Kerplunk’s greatest track, “Welcome to Paradise”. Containing some of Dirnt’s best bass playing to date interlocked with Cool’s fury, “Welcome to Paradise” is driven mostly by the rhythm section, but Billie’s songwriting is able to match Mike and Tre’s intensity, sneering ”I wanna take you to a wasteland I like to call my home: Welcome to Paradise.” Capping off with an intense climactic breakdown section, “Welcome To Paradise” is Green Day’s own mini-classic, hence it was given the glossy big-production treatment on Dookie. Actually, “Welcome To Paradise” is a fair representation of what Kerplunk shows Green Day as: a catchy, furious force that just needs that major-label production to make it digestible to the masses.

Kerplunk isn’t perfect (there’s a severe, almost laughable dip in quality when the needlessly attached Sweet Children EP comes up), but it doesn’t have to be. There’s enough underground allure here to make most of the faults in Kerplunk forgivable and retain its status as an enjoyable record. The sound isn’t of a small band trying to make it big; it’s more of a band just being true to themselves. Towards the end of the album comes Billie’s songwriting apex on Kerplunk. “Who Wrote Holden Caulfield” feels like Kerplunk in two minutes and forty-four seconds; it’s catchy, fast, and anthem-like, as Billie cries “Was it just a dream that happened long ago? Oh well...Never mind”, leading into one helluva chorus. Indubitably the real Holden Caulfield’s ego would be thrilled to have a song named after him, but he’d probably like this song, and Kerplunk, too. It’s honest, real, and stripped of all the crap that came with Green Day’s name in later years. Maybe they should have stayed underground, if albums like Kerplunk are the result. After all, as Billie Joe said, “A Working Class Hero is something to beer.”

Recommended Tracks

2000 Light Years Away
Welcome To Paradise
Who Wrote Holden Caulfield




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user ratings (859)
Chart.
3.6
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other reviews of this album
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Improvement!...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2007


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a redo of my first ever review here on sputnik music. Hope you all enjoy.

Also, this review is a lot shorter than most of my others, so opinions about it are appreciated.This Message Edited On 11.06.07

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

ReturnToRock
November 6th 2007


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i agree with everything except that Sweet Children is bad. that song is among the best on the (extended) album.

owning the first four GD albums, i have noticed that Dookie is pretty much a stray in their discography. KPK sounds much closer to Insomniac than it does to Dookie, and the same can be said for 39/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours. strange, innit?

Serpento
November 6th 2007


2351 Comments


Holden wouldn't hate this album, because I love it. And I = some irish bastard.

Nice review.

Kaleid
November 6th 2007


711 Comments


Don't worry about the length. I always think that, as long as you get your opinion across and describe the sound well enough, it doesn't matter (barring blurbs and epic courtroom dramas)

I hardly ever listen to Green Day anymore, although they were one of the first bands I ever got into. Early stuff like this was infinitely better

The Jungler
November 6th 2007


4827 Comments


oh man you did not just call green day "emo" and catcher "obscure", did you? Or am I reading the opening paragraph wrong.
Good review though.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2007


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was just kidding about the emo part, and I did call catcher obscure =/.

The Jungler
November 6th 2007


4827 Comments


well maybe A Catcher in the Rye is pretty obscure

:rolleyes:This Message Edited On 11.06.07

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2007


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh, fuck my cock.

PhoenixRising
November 6th 2007


277 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good review. I go back and forth between this and their EP compilitation 1039/Smoothed out Slappy hours being my favorites.

fershizzle
November 6th 2007


90 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

good review. bad album. all around bad band.

Fort23
November 6th 2007


2475 Comments


Having just read Catcher In the Rye


YOU JUST READ CATCHER IN THE RYE?!?! sorry its like my favorite book ever. and the best song on the album.

I used to listenn to this album all the time right nesxt to Dookie and American Idiot. good times...This Message Edited On 11.06.07

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2007


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm not a fan of Catcher, tbh.This Message Edited On 11.06.07

plane
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2007


6094 Comments


It's really overrated.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2007


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^^^

funhouse
November 6th 2007


28 Comments


I fucking love that book. I used to fucking love Green Day too, but now this is the only album I listen to of theirs.

AtavanHalen
November 6th 2007


17927 Comments


I love everything this band has ever put out. Honestly.

Willie
Moderator
November 6th 2007


15964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is their best album... I remember getting it on the day it came out because my friend's older sister was dating someone in the band. Oh, and "Dominated Love Slave" is a classic!


Digging: Necropoli - I

gaber01
July 13th 2008


112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't get it... why are there so many 1 ratings on this album? Trolling?

Douchebag
February 2nd 2009


3624 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"I love everything this band has ever put out. Honestly"

same exept that one song 'Rotting'. I can honestly say i can march around in my Iron Maiden shirt and claim Green Day to be my favourite band.

darthbarf
April 30th 2009


445 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

For some reason I find this vastly inferior to 1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours



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