3 out of 5
Produced by: Various
Hey gang: I love The Suicide Machines. Maybe I’ve never successfully been able to get on board with their self-titled album, but even at the time, that disc didn’t convince me not to love, and (s/t excepting…) each of their releases have merited multiple, multiple spins from me, and have entered into the realm of know-it-front-to-back-I’ll-embarrass-you-by-singing-along territory.
When you own all of the discs from a group, a best-of compilation can still have merit: presenting songs in a new context; offering up your faves in an already curated playlist; not to mention the possibility of new material, which this S.Machines comp has in the form of a live track and an unreleased track. There’s also anti-best-of style of collecting, in which tracks are culled perhaps more selectively, instead of by popularity. SMs never necessarily made the big time, but they had an undeniable following, and that undeniable following had undeniable faves; I’d say those faves made it on here, but there is also that sense of picking and choosing of “other” material. So: The Least Worst of the Suicide Machines has bonuses, and has a good mix of top hits and selective material.
But it doesn’t quite work.
A secondary reason to that is that the albums collected here – their four Hollywood records albums – are actually quite different. Destruction By Definition is classic ska/punk; Battle Hymns is more full-throttle thrash punk; self-titled is pop; Steal This Record is hardcore rock. It’s the same band, but their releases are fully functioning standalone things, and don’t puzzle-piece together too well. The main reason, though, is that the sequencing of each album’s selections have been entirely rearranged. Yeah, I have my long-term love at work here, stuck to what I feel like is the “best” sequencing of tracks, i.e. what originally appeared on the albums, but I feel like I can set that aside, and in doing so I cannot hear the thought behind Least Worst’s ordering. Like opener Break The Glass isn’t a great opener; Islands isn’t a great second song; and so on. In the attempt to stray from the usual Greatest Hits format, the disc is somewhat self-defeating.
The context change-up does sort of work in self-titleds favor, as you can directly compare how the group was trying to enhance their sound while holding on to some degrees of punkiness. (When listening to that full album, you’re always sort of waiting for the rawk shoe to drop, and it’ ne’er does.) And, hey, those unreleased tracks, which aren’t anything special, per se, but they’re worth hearing.
I can’t rate this lower than a three, because all the songs are top notch, but even if someone wanted a sample of The Machines’ range, I’d probably encourage them to pick up two separate albums instead of this comp.