Review Summary: The second longest punk rock track of all time.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Nightmare! Recording this f**k was a total nightmare. Writing it was a total nightmare. I'm glad we did it but I wouldn't do it again. We went back to the studio three different times and added stuff and remixed and remastered four times. It ain't no rock opera like "The Song Remains the Same" or nothing. We got the idea from Subhumans, not Rush. Why an eighteen minute song? Just to do something different. We've done enough short songs, time for a long one. Anyway, my advice, never try this song at home.
- Michael "Fat Mike" Burkett, vocalist and bassist of NOFX, as well as the head of the iconic punk label Fat Wreck Chords.
I remember the day I bought NOFX's F**k the Kids EP
, hoping for another masterpiece just like 1994's Punk in Drublic
, their breakthrough album. Sloppy, quick, aggressive, boring. All the tracks are under a minute and thirty seconds, which totals to a disappointingly short length of about nine minutes and twenty seconds. Then I bought The Decline EP
a year later. I chucked it into my CD player and was blown away.
Warped Tour. Texas. 2006. It's raining. Bit of hail. Kevin goes up to Mike and says "Mike, you can only play one more song." Mike goes to the crowd, "Kevin says we can only play one more song. Too bad this next one is 18 minutes long."
With inspiration from the track "From the Cradle to the Grave" by the Subhumans (which had a length of sixteen minutes and fifty-one seconds), NOFX set off on a quest to record a nice long punk rock song. Success? Yep. They came back from that third recording session with the second longest punk song of all time, under Crass' "Yes Sir, I Will" (with a stunning length of twenty two minutes).
The track begins with a nice bass intro over Erik Sandin's cymbal tapping, then escalates into a quick bass solo and before you know it, Fat Mike sings "where are all the stupid people from?". An editor on Wikipedia described the lyrics as:
Largely a satire of American politics and law, with an overwhelming concern for blind behaviors of the masses, such as complacency, indifference, and conformity, as well as destruction of constitutional rights, and condemnation of the religious right. Although the lyrics are somewhat disjointed, they all refer back to the unifying theme of the 'decline' of America.
Backing vocals from Eric Melvin and Aaron "El Hefe" Abeyta come at perfect times, and Melvin's patented "mel yell" is used very well throughout the EP. Being a bass player, the most important thing I noticed was the complexity of Fat Mike's bass playing, which separates him from the standard punk rock bassist. He is also credited as the composer of this "punk rock opera", which shows his talent for musicianship. Erik Sandin's drumming nicely accompanies the song, just like Lars Nylander's (of Skankin' Pickle) trumpet playing creates a nice melody around the guitars at about the second half of the track.
Eighteen minutes of punk rock at its best. To be able to create a single song with a length of over ten minutes that doesn't get boring is truly a brilliant exploit, clearly showing NOFX's more sophisticated side. Altogether, this is one of the best punk rock records I have ever come across. Five out of five.