Review Summary: This is the version of Duh that every fan will want to own.
Lagwagon is easily one of the best punk bands to come out of the early nineties, and their albums are finally receiving the remaster-and-reissue treatment. For those that don’t know, Duh
was Lagwagon’s debut album and featured a very unrefined version of what they would eventually become. It was an album that flirted with serious topics and random humor without any real sense of direction, but it worked. The music itself was raw punk rock with the occasional off-kilter moment, and featured Joey Cape at his grittiest. Of course it also featured a few awkward moments, songwriting that didn’t always seem to reach its potential and a very thin sound overall, but these quirks were mostly endearing. Anyway, on this 2011 reissue of the album, the thin sound has been updated and comes with a bonus disc full of demos and early unreleased tracks.
The first disc is mostly comprised of the original album (in its new remastered form), and it sounds great. The guitars aren’t nearly as thin as they once were and the whole thing seems to have a much fuller sound. That doesn’t mean that these songs suddenly sound as crisp and clear as anything on Resolve
or even the original version of Trashed
, but they’re still much better than the originals. The main remaining issue is that the thin drum sound is still present, and that some people might still be turned off by the album’s work-in-progress songwriting approach. On the other hand, it was that youthful exuberance that led to such classics as “Beer Goggles” and “Mr. Coffee” – and who can dismiss the fun train wreck that was their cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival
’s “Bad Moon Rising”. The first disc ends with three unreleased tracks, including an acoustic version of “Angry Days” and a previously unreleased track entitled “Demented Rumors”. “Demented Rumors” definitely displays a darker side of Lagwagon due to the clean guitar tone in places and lyrical subject matter, and kind of shares a common spirit with The Offspring
’s “Dirty Magic”.
’s improved sound and the inclusion of three unreleased tracks, the second disc will probably be the most interesting for long time fans. This disc gives fans a rare glimpse into the band’s earliest days through the inclusion of rare unreleased tracks and early demos. Surprisingly, the band started life as an angry, abrasive metal/hardcore crossover band. It’s almost a little unsettling to hear the (generally articulate) Joey Cape screaming “***ing bitch!” over metal riffs on “Jaded Ways” or yelling with unbridled anger on the original metal version of “Tragic Vision”. Even the demo versions of tracks such as “Beer Goggles” and “Foiled Again” that were recorded closer to the actual recording of Duh
feature a much angrier and in-your-face approach than the versions that eventually made the album. It’s definitely very cool to hear the band’s songs as they were initially envisioned, before they were stripped down for easy punk rock consumption. For example, the demo version of “Bury the Hatchet” features an additional minute of music that includes a pretty soaring guitar solo, and a few additional musical flourishes.
Lagwagon are easily one of the best punk bands to come from the nineties scene and this reissue was a long time coming. The remastered version of Duh
manages to fix most of the minor sound issues that plagued the original album and would have been worth the (re)purchase price all on its own, but the inclusion of a second disc full of unreleased tracks and alternate demo versions makes acquiring this album a no-brainer. The original tracks sound re-invigorated (minus the same basic drum sound) and the second disc is full of surprises. In the end, this is the version of Duh
that all fans of Lagwagon will want to own.