Green Day
Kerplunk


3.5
great

Review

by Pedro B. USER (303 Reviews)
April 12th, 2012 | 26 replies


Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An uniquely incongruous step towards maturity from a young band in the verge of a breakthrough.

For most serious music fans, formative albums are one of the most interesting aspects of fandom. There is nothing quite like discovering what one’s favourite band sounded like before they became known, when the only difference between them and the 15-year-olds in the garage three doors down was some sort of (often quite minor) record deal. Examples are countless, and one needs look no further than Sepultura’s Morbid Visions/Eternal Devastation, Megadeth’s Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good, or Slipknot’s legendary MFKR demo for examples.

To this list, one should also add Green Day’s pre-fame output, consisting of numerous EPs and two full-length releases, and culminating in 1992’s Kerplunk. Two years after this indie-label-budget-production-sparse-artwork release, the band would put out their magnum opus, Dookie, and go on to become one of the most divisive bands in the modern rock scene. This vibrant, endearingly raw recording therefore constitutes the final glimpse of Green Day as an underground band – and that alone would be enough to make it an item of interest to underground fans. Fortunately, however, there is more to Kerplunk than just historical significance, and the album effectively represents a step up from everything that preceded it.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Green Day’s sophomore release is just how experimental it is. Not yet being a household name, even within the Berkeley melodi-core scene, Green Day must have felt like they had nothing to lose, and this album incorporates more outside influences than any other in the band’s discography, bar perhaps Nimrod. Unlike on that turgid offering, however, the attempts at experimentation on here actually work, and make for the most interesting songs of the album.

In fact, a couple of spins of this 12-songs-plus-bonus-tracks release will reveal a peculiar trend, whereby the most typically Green Day-esque songs are also the least interesting ones. With the exception of One Of My Lies – an irrepressible explosion of youthful punk-pop – the more ‘traditional’ half of this album veers between the passably bland – Private Ale, Who Wrote Holden Caulfield – and the unabashedly fillerish (the sequence of 80 and Android is particularly notorious in this regard). There is also an early version of Welcome To Paradise, which is sadly not a patch on its stellar Dookie reworking.

The added CD-and-cassette tracks, taken from the band’s sole release as Sweet Children, continue this trend, with the vivacious eponymous track and unassuming cover of My Generation standing in stark contrast to the faceless Strangeland, perhaps the worst track on the extended version of the album.

In direct opposition to these tracks, the more ‘experimental’ songs on this album invariably yield something of interest to the listener – whether it be the surprising maturity of the melancholy No One Knows (perhaps the best composition of the band’s pre-fame career), the Nirvanesque riff at the end of Christie Road, the tongue-in-cheek humour of country pastiche Dominated Love Slave, the throwback to the first album on One For The Razorbacks or the acoustic surprise of Words I Might Have Ate. When added to a couple of more traditional, but equally as captivating, songs – Sweet Children, opener 2000 Lightyears Away – this portion of the album is enough to warrant it a listen.

Lyrics-wise, the situation is somewhat similar. While most of this album’s poems still deal with Billie Joe Armstrong’s unusually observant take on inter-gender relationships, one is surprised here and there by surprisingly mature musings about the need for integration (Christie Road) or the inevitable melancholy of growing old (on No One Knows). That a lyric like ”I see my friends begin to age/a short countdown to their end” should be found in an album penned by 19-year-olds is surprising; that it is included in the same album as the pubescent S&M ribbing of Dominated Love Slave, positively incongruous.

And yet, it is on this incongruence that Kerplunk thrives; and, in that regard, it is like no other album in the Green Day discography. Nimrod may be more experimental, American Idiot more ambitious, and Dookie stronger overall, but the unique mixture of youthful energy and serious attempts at branching out is what gives Kerplunk its own, very distinctive identity, making it one of the worthier listens in the Green Day back catalogue.

Recommended Tracks
Christie Road
Dominated Love Slave
One Of My Lies
No One Knows



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user ratings (883)
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2012


3502 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. Pos. I never really got into Kerplunk, I don't know why. I love 1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours and the rest of their 90s output, especially Insomniac, but I never loved much Kerplunk. Still, it has some really good tracks like the ones you listed and Who Wrote Holden Caulfield ?.

Digging: Motorpsycho - The Motorpnakotic Fragments

KILL
April 12th 2012


72280 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

its alright

Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

Willie
Moderator
April 12th 2012


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Best Green Day album. Good review.

Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

KILL
April 12th 2012


72280 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

dookie bro

Willie
Moderator
April 12th 2012


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Almost as good.

ReturnToRock
April 12th 2012


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dookie. Then Idiot. Then Kerplunk.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2012


3502 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Insomniac, Dookie, Nimrod., Warning, American Idiot, 1,039 Smoothed Out, Kerplunk, 21st Century Breakdown. and now everyone will hate me for this, oh well...

ReturnToRock
April 12th 2012


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nimrod needs to be last and Dookie first.

Yotimi
April 12th 2012


6570 Comments


Dookie is by far the best

Parallels
April 12th 2012


6643 Comments


Ugh I hate Dookie with a passion

paxman
April 12th 2012


4084 Comments


Failing to find the insight in the lyric ”I see my friends begin to age/a short countdown to their end”, regardless of age.

ReturnToRock
April 12th 2012


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well, it's a reflection, isn't it?

For instance, I'm 26 and everyone around me is getting married and settling down, and I'm still single and drifting from job to job...that sort of thing.

ThroneOfAgony
April 12th 2012


3485 Comments


This album is seriously amazing.

ConsiderPhlebas
April 12th 2012


6157 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Fuck yeah great review. Nimrod last, though?

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2012


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nimrod guys

And then AI/Dookie

Digging: Low Roar - 0

Satellite
April 13th 2012


20826 Comments


Dookie. Then Idiot. Then Kerplunk.

i am okay with this

good review pedro

Eclecticist
April 13th 2012


3863 Comments


286 reviews....


WOW

Killerhit
April 13th 2012


5381 Comments


He's stilll going to go for 300

And to 400

bungy
April 13th 2012


8843 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Take away the strains of being lonely
Take me to the tracks at ChrisTIE ROOOAD

ReturnToRock
April 13th 2012


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nimrod is turgid.

Also, album would be a 4, but AI is better than it (slightly) and is a 3.5.



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