Review Summary: Excellent compilation album. A must buy for newcomers.
Compilations tend to be useless cash grabs for bands that have too many albums and too much money to spend. Point in case: Iron Maiden. There's been more Maiden compilations than we can count on both hands, and we really don't need another compilation album. That, and they tend to be released during periods of band inactivity, or to fulfill record deals, so they end up being useless overall. Now here's one compilation album that doesn't fall victim to that plague of being redundant. Bad Religion's All Ages may be old, but it chronicles an age of the band in which they were at their creative zenith.
Bad Religion are of course not just some band. They're notoriously punk, have a career that spans more time than most bands even exist, have gone through all the motions of being a band, including breakups, label changes, accusations of sellouts, and all that kind of nonsense. All Ages doesn't contain any songs (except an earlier version of 21st Century Digital Boy) that are off their major label era or even the Stranger than Fiction
. Instead, this contains all the old Bad Religion songs you know and love. This has "The Answer." "Suffer." "Anesthesia." "No Control." "Atomic Garden." It contains only songs that thrive on the classic Bad Religion sound, and they've picked all the good ones at that. This makes it a perfect introduction to newcomers: it's basically a greatest hits that excludes almost any major label songs, but includes the critically acclaimed era.
Lyrically and musically it's everything we know and love from this band. Greg Graffin's trademark harmony vocals and melody lines are all over the songs, the uptempo drums and dual guitar assault are there, and there are even some live cuts to show the tight band interplay on stage. The lyrics that some have criticised in recent years are of the quality that we are accustomed to from their earlier outings; Graffin's trademark cynicism runs rampant as he attacks the flat earth society, overly enthusiastic save-the-world types, the government, humanity. It almost seems as if Bad Religion were against everything, but they end up being more than that; it is no secret that Greg Graffin holds a PhD in life science, and thus his "*** the world, use your brain" lyrics come over as intelligent and powerful, rather than retarded and cheesy.
There is nothing new or fancy about this release. There's nothing you really need if you have heard the albums that contain the songs this is made up of. But if you've never heard Bad Religion before, this contains just about every song you could want, and it's such a concise summary of their sound it provides a good starting basis to explore one of the most legendary LA punk bands. Highly recommended for newcomers, and that is almost the best praise you can give to a compilation album.