Various Artists
"Serving the Best in Rock and Roll"

(Peephole Records 2003)Various Artists - Serving the Best in Rock and Roll

Amidst the whiny pop punk and emo voices, thick rockabilly guitar riffs and a couple surprising cover tunes, Peephole Records "Serving the Best in Rock and Roll" two-CD compilation will remind you of your old favorites, like the Ramones, and newer bands, such as the Dropkick Murphys. Listening to each track, it is almost like a who's who of punk rock from the last thirty years. Who says kids today do not know their roots?

The first disc is full of high energy songs, like opening track "Blood Splattered Bride" by The Green Goblyn Project. With the attitude of the Cramps' Lux Interior, The Cryptkeeper Five's rockabilly sounding "Gimme Gimme Your Heart" grabs your attention as the speeding "Loved Ya To Death" by the Dead Heroes offers a tight sound. The Groovie Ghoulies offer a respectable but unenergetic cover of the Ramones' "Pet Sematary." But along with the harder, grittier punk there are also slower, pop punk and power pop tunes; the softer side is reflected with such tracks as The Queers' almost Weezer-ish "Baby Girl" and the very out of place first disc closer by Teen Idols. The band covers the tender and stripped down "When You Say Nothing At All," a song by Irish pop god Ronan Keating.

After keeping the first disc relatively strong and action packed, disc two had high standards to live up to. The second disc is made up primarily, but not completely, of more pop punk sounding bands; take the whiny Brilliant Zero's "At the Show" and the less than memorable "(Have You Seen) The Matrix" by No More, for example. A bastardized version of Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" opens Car Bomb Driver's "$20 Date," an ode, of sorts, to a streetwalker. The discs harder tunes, such as "You Look Good From Behind" by Die Cheerleader Die (whose vocals remind of the Lunachicks' Theo Kogan) and the short lived hardcore song "All Electric" by Arcade Inferno, offer some much needed variety. Another surprising cover is of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" by The Independents. The song is barely recognizable to the original but the vocals give you an idea of what, as redundant as it sounds, a high Elvis might sound like.

With exactly fifty tracks, "Serving the Best in Rock and Roll" might not give you the best, but it does give you a wide variety of sounds, styles and bands to check out. While the compilation could easily have been confined to one disc, no sound is excluded and you can hear how bands of the past and present have influenced today's bands. No promises as to whether you want to hear those bands though.