American Idiot (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Green Day

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American Idiot (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Green Day

Rock & Pop - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Reprise - Distributor: Arvato Services, Forte - Released: 30/05/2005 - 93624939122

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Review of "American Idiot (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Green Day"

published 18/02/2017 | RazzyD92
Member since : 07/02/2017
Reviews : 8
Members who trust : 2
About me :
25 year old musician from Scotland
Excellent
Pro Thought provoking lyrics, ambitious songwriting, exciting concept, relevant as ever
Cons Probably not suitable for over patriotic Americans....
very helpful
Originality
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Value for Money
Lyrics

"The album that helped 3 "American Idiots" take over the world!"

History of the Band

Green Day are a band who did it the good old fashioned way, starting right at the bottom and working their way up the ladder.
Billie Joe Armstrong (Lead Vocals and Guitar) met Mike Dirnt (Bass and Vocals) when they were both 10 year old in the cafeteria of their school, and bonded instantly. They would regularly jam with one another at home, and when they were 15, they started the band the known as "Sweet Children". At this time, Billie Joe played lead guitar and Mike was on rhythm guitar duties. Wikipedia cites there were other former members including Dave Henwood and Raj Punjabi, but there is very little information on this and when they were supposed to be in the band, and what part they played. Raj Punjabi appears to have been the drummer, according to a source on Green Day Authority. Common knowledge has John Kiffmeyer (aka Al Sobrante) as the first noted drummer of the band, and he was drummer when they would play their first gig at 924 Gilman Street in 1987, an all ages punk den based in their home of Berkeley, California. By this time, Mike had also switched to playing bass in the band, making Billie Joe sole guitarist.
The band gained high interest after playing more gigs in and around their local area, most importantly Larry Livermore, owner of independent record label Lookout! Records. He signed them, and the band recorded and released an EP titled "1,000 Hours". Right before they had released the EP, the band decided to change their name from "Sweet Children" to "Green Day". This has been cited to have been due to their love of smoking weed, and derived from a local term for a day spent doing so. Billie Joe had also wrote a song called this, that featured on the EP.
Green Day went on to record their first album "39/Smooth" in Christmas of 1989. The band continued gigging, and the album was released in April of 1990. This was followed a few months later by an EP called "The Slappy EP", and continuous gigging. With their LP'S and EP'S creating a buzz on the scene, the band decided to embark on their first tour around the US. The band created a buzz on the Minnesota indie music scene, and played there regularly on the tour. This is where Billie Joe would meet a girl named Adrienne, who he later went on to marry, and is still married to today. On returning from the tour, he wrote the song "2,000 Lightyears Away" about her.
John Kiffmeyer left the band after their first tour, deciding to go to college. This made Billie Joe and Mike very worried about the future of the band, until Billie Joe met and jammed with the former drummer of Larry Livermore's band The Lookouts. He went by the name of Tré Cool, and was exactly what the band needed. In late 1990, Cool played his first show with Green Day, and solidified his place as drummer of the band.
With a new drummer on board, the band would do more tours, including in Europe. In 1991, they entered the studio once again and recorded their second album "Kerplunk". This album was once again released through Lookout! Records, in January 1992. Another tour followed, and the buzz about the band kept growing. Interest gained included A&R people from major labels, who were all desperate to snap Green Day up for their label. The band was a bit skeptic about this, scared of losing control of their art and the fear of what purists from the scene that made them would think. Having thought hard about it however, the band decided to start seeing what was on offer. Making it known that they would not give up their control over sound and image, they began meeting scouts, and found a match in Rob Cavallo. Rob worked for Reprise Records, a division of Warner Brother Records, and signed the band in Summer of 1993. He took them into the studio, and they recorded their third and first major label album "Dookie".
"Dookie" was released in February of 1994, and it was a massive success. The band was propelled to grand popularity, and became the new poster boys of alternative music. This was not without its bittersweet taste however, when they were banned from Gilman, for the crime of "selling out". They would not be allowed to play there again until the ban was lifted very recently. Despite of this, the "Dookie" era saw Green Day gain critical acclaim, sell out arenas for the first time, playing major festival slots, getting a lot of mainstream airtime and TV time, and an ever growing fan base. They had well and truely ""made it!""
After the massive success of "Dookie", Green Day remained a mainstay in rock throughout the years. Their second major label album "Insomniac", released in 1995, was a darker album. It was not as successful an album as its predecessor, and critics were split on it. It was also followed by a tour that was cut short due to the band burning out, to the point Billie Joe even considered becoming a studio only band. A couple of years later (1997), "Nimrod" was released, with high critical acclaim. This was an ambitious album, which showed a maturing and varying songwriting ability. The band had continued playing live after this album, and returned to touring. In 2000, "Warning" was released, to critical criticism and unflattering sales. The album took a far more Folk - Punk direction, and did not sit well with a lot of their fanbase. Talk soon arose that they were a band past their prime, only made worse when they released a Greatest Hits compilation called "International Superhits" in 2001 and a B-Sides collection called "Shenanigans" in 2002. They would also play main support for Blink 182 in 2002 on The Pop Disaster tour, a band who they had came before and influenced. This only reaffirmed the previous suggestion in a lot of peoples mind. What would happen next, however, changed everything!.....

The Conception of American Idiot

If folklore has it right, "American Idiot" was not the album Green Day originally entered the studio to record. Rumour has it that the band entered the studio, and recorded a bunch of songs for an album titled "Cigarettes and Valentines". However, a fire broke out in the studio, and they masters were lost. Instead of re-recording the lost material, the band supposedly decided to start over. Billie Joe was said to have written a song after hearing Lynyrd Skynyrd on the radio, being appalled by what he found to be very racist undertones in the track that was played, and also America under the Bush Administration. This song was "American Idiot"!
Billie Joe played the song for Mike and Tré, and it has been said that they both exclaimed that it was exactly the direction the band had to go in. With the green light lit, Billie Joe then imagined up who this "American Idiot" was, taking heed from personal, geopolitical and social circumstances. This gave birth to the character of the "Jesus of Suburbia". The 9 and a bit minute masterpiece inspired by this character was another massive game-changer, and opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the band. Taking inspiration from musicals and rock operas, the band decided to tell a story through their music and write their first ever concept album. It was a risky move, that thankfully paid off!

Track by Track

Tracklisting

1. American Idiot
2. Jesus of Suburbia

I. Jesus Of Suburbia
II. City of the Damned
III. I Don't Care
IV. Dearly Beloved
V. Tales of Another Broken Home

3. Holiday
4. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
5. Are We The Waiting
6. St Jimmy
7. Give Me Novacaine
8. She's a Rebel
9. Extraordinary Girl
10. Letterbomb
11. Wake Me Up When September Ends
12. Homecoming

I. The Death of St. Jimmy
II. East 12st St.
III. Nobody Likes you
IV. Rock and Roll Girlfriend
V. We're Coming Home Again

13. Whatsername

American Idiot

A super strong opener, instantly catching and in your face. You can tell the band is out with a purpose! It is filled with loud, cutting guitars, and a killer drumbeat. The lyrics attack the age of mass media propaganda, and seek to make sense throughout a barrage of confusion. Billie Joe sings with such conviction, you can tell it is sincere! It sets the standard for the album, which does not go on to disappoint at all!

Jesus of Suburbia

9 and a bit minutes of pure gold, and probably the biggest shockers for any long time Green Day fan listening to this album for the first time. The lyrics tell of the experiences of a youngster being brought up in a broken home in suburban America, who wants to break away from this life and move to the city. The lyrics detail the confusion, addiction, anger, sadness, fear, and desire that often arises from living under these circumstances. The lyrics are moving, and relatable, and sung with conviction. It is easy to hear that Billie Joe has a personal connection with this character he has created.
Musically. this is a very exciting track. It is split into different acts, each with its own feel and dynamic. "Jesus of Suburbia" enters with a strong call and response chord and vocal sequence, introducing us to "Jesus", and documenting his life. There are some really cool drum fills too, helping fill in the gaps. It has a very powerful and memorable chorus section to. "City of the Damned" seems to be our character starting too look at the bigger social picture, and realising that the outside world is just as fucked up as his personal life. This act is driven mostly by a simple and dark chord progression, before merging into the in your face and Punky "I Don't Care". This act is full of anger, which Billie Joe's vocals nicely potray. The lyrics describe a young man realising all the negatives of his world and the world as a whole, and going on a personal rebellion against it. Surprisingly, the next act is like something out of Greece. "Dearly Beloved" is a reflective, bass driven ballad. The lyrics seem to be "Jesus" reflecting over a lover or family member. It is a moving piece, and a nice dynamic change. The next and last act raises the dynamic again, ending on a high. "Tales from Another Broken Home" sees "Jesus" wanting to break away from Suburbia and dreaming of the lights of the big city. It explains his frustration of his current situation, and is basically him saying "fuck it" and leaving his home. This act is full of hard rocking guitars, banging drums, and a kickass bass part. It also has a ballady piano part near the end, before a hard rocking finale. There is not a weak moment at all!

Holiday

This is a big "fuck you song", with anti-war and government lyrics. In terms of the concept, this could play as our "Jesus" entering the city full of bravado, set on taking the world by storm.The guitars are brash, the drums are hard hitting, and there is an awesome bass driven mid section. The lyrics are clever, dangerous, and thought provoking. This is our "Jesus" having a party...

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

....and this is his hangover! "Holiday" fades into this track, which takes a darker and more reflective vibe. It could play as our "Jesus" sobering up and noticing the less attractive side of the city. The lyrics perfectly describe the feeling of isolation and loneliness that a city can create wandering streets alone, or wandering streets where you know nobody. It is like a cry for help, an SOS from somebody who feels alien in this world. Musically, it matches up perfectly with the general vibe. With grungey guitars, and deep, powerful drums, it is a perfectly dark track.

Are We The Waiting

This is an anthemic, balled like track, reminiscent of U2 or Runrig. It starts with a stadium rock like drum fill. We are then met with a melodic clean guitar riff, and reflective lyrics. This seems to be our "Jesus" losing hope, and denouncing everything he believes in.

St.Jimmy

Another sharp dynamic change, this track is a Ramones style punk track. With a sharp, hard guitar progression, and hard hitting drums, it kicks you right in the teeth. We are introduced to what seems to the Jesus of Suburbia's darker alter ego "St.Jimmy", a character hellbent on self destruction and full of bad intentions.

Give Me Novacaine

This is another slower track, starting with acoustic guitar and a simple drum beat. Billie Joe sings this track with a softness in his voice. The choruses are heavier, and it builds up towards the end. This sounds like "Jesus" fully giving in, possibly letting "St.Jimmy" take over as a main personality.

She's a Rebel

Another fade in, this track is another punky track. Driven mainly by a simple 3 chord guitar progression and strong supporting drum beat, this is an upbeat track that lifts us up from the darkness of the previous track. This appears to be Jesus/Jimmy falling in love with a mystery girl. It appears that she brings him a new lease of hope.

Extraordinary Girl

There is an interesting middle eastern vibe to this track, yet it still fits nicely in to the album. It is again mostly guitar and drum driven, with a few other instruments scattered into the mix to add to its unique vibe. This appears to tell of the ups and downs of our two characters love affair.

'Letterbomb

This is a strong Pop-Punk/Power Pop track, with sharp guitars, power drums, and a great driving bass in the background. It seems to be another sobering moment for our character, with reflective and questioning lyrics. It also seems to describe the mystery girl choosing to leave our protagonist.

Wake Me Up When September Ends

This track was originally written when Billie Joe was 10, in response to his Dad dying of cancer. Purposely placed at 11, it became an anthem of September 11th. It is a very reflective and moving song, understandably, and it is full of interesting dynamics. Starting with a melodic guitar, it slowly builds up with hard hitting drums and distorted guitar. You can almost feel Billie Joe being close to tears when he sings this track, and this is enough to bring tears out in the listener too. I am not sure if this really fits into the story, unless you look at it as September being the month Jesus/Jimmy was left by the mysterious rebel girl, and possibly that the story is set when 9/11 happened.

Homecoming

Another set of acts, now detailing our protagonist's decision to return home after what seems to be a failed search for glory in the city. The first act "The Death of St. Jimmy" would appear to detail him killing of this personality. This act is driven by a simple rock chord progression, and lyrics describing the last days of Jimmy's existance. "East 12th Street" continues in much the same vain musically, and seems to tell of our main characters slow return to normality. "Nobody Likes You" seems to be a sobering realisation of having no friends, and is very Les Miserables like musically. "Rock n Roll Girlfriend" just seems to be a bit of fun, not necessarily fitting the story or possibly one last showing of St. Jimmy. It also pays tribute to "American Idiot" with similar drums near the end and Mike singing the words in the background. "We're Coming Home Again" sounds like the perfect finale for a musical, with a melodic, anthemic guitar and drum fills. It details our character on his way home, and him being so happy to be on his way. Another strong effort, and outstanding moment!

Whatsername

With a steady guitar progression and drumbeat, alongside reflective and moving lyrics to boot, this is the perfect end credit song. It appears to be our protagonist reminiscing the mystery girl he met in his travels, wondering what she is doing now. He appears to so badly want to forget her, yet cannot quite let it go. There is a pining in this song that makes it deeply relatable, and it appears that Billie Joe may be singing from personal experience. It builds up to strong and distorted guitar near the end, and ends the album on such a high. Just perfect!

Now play again!

Overall Review

I feel American Idiot is a brilliantly strong album, and it definitely broke the mold when it was released. In a time where most bands were playing it safe, Green Day dared to play it dangerous in a number of ways. For one, the political undertones were risky given the climate at the time. Also, the ambitiousness of this album was very impressive from a band that a lot of people had already written off. They definitely risked losing (and probably did lose several) long time fans too, doing something so bold, different, and beyond what a "punk" band was expected to do. It however paid off, and gave them their biggest amount of success since "Dookie", maybe even more so.

I think the album deserved the critical acclaim it received, and it remains my favourite album to this day. It is an album I can listen to on repeat and never get bored of, an in fact it was all I ever listened to for a long time. For me, there is not one bit of filler on this album, every track takes its place perfectly. There are so many different dynamics going on, and the general songwriting is just outstanding. Musically, this is a band on top form. It is truly amazing for them to achieved such an ambitious yet simple album. The album keeps true to a lot of punk sensibilities, even though it is so big and outrageous. This to me shows that Green Day are very accomplished musicians, and not just a bunch of generic 3 or 4 chord punkers. I would argue that this was and still is there strongest work, and will probably remain so in my opinion.
I feel that I can relate to "Jesus", which gives this album a human feel. Feeling such a strong connection to the album makes listening to it an experience, and I lose myself in it with every listen. I almost feel that the album could be about me! I particularly have a personal connection with "Wake Me Up When September Ends", after a friend died of Leukaemia in September 2012.
I also feel this album stands the test of time, and is as relevant today as it ever was. I drew a strong connection to it during the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, and can really relate it with the current geopolitical and cultural situation. It almost seems like Green Day foretold the future. Even on a personal level it has become more relevant, although I am not sure how glad I am of that.
The "American Idiot" has a certain amount of nostalgia for me too, and definitely changed my life. I was 11/12 when this was released, and was only just developing my own music taste. It was the first Green Day album I heard in full, and from first hearing the title track, they became my favourite band. They played a big part in me becoming a musician myself.

A Little Theory I Hold

Recently, I came up with a theory about this album. I think it is like "Fight Club" in musical form, or is at least partly influenced by it. Here is how I came to this theory:

Jesus of Suburbia is an unsatisfied Joe Nobody from a broken home, much like The Narrator/Jack from Fight Club.

The story of this album follows a similar plot line to Fight Club, in the case of the protagonist setting out on a journey of self-discovery through self destruction and rebellion. In both cases, the revolutions do not turn out quite as was hoped.

Similar Characters:

Jesus = Jack/Narrator
St. Jimmy = Tyler Durden
Whatsername = Marla Singer

In the "Death of St. Jimmy" act of "Homecoming", it is said that Jimmy blew his brains out. The Tyler Durden personality is killed in Fight Club by gunshot to the head.

Basically, the overall split personality and anti-establishment tones of "American Idiot" and "Fight Club" are what has made me make the connections. What do you think?

Also, if you listen to My Chemical Romance's "The Black Parade" after listening to "American Idiot", you can imagine it being a sequel where our protagonist goes on to die. Well, I could imagine it anyway haha

Summary

"American Idiot" is a ridiculously strong album, with lots going for it. It is a must own for any Green Day fan, as well as any general Rock, Alternative and Punk fans. It is ambitious, catchy, and an overall masterpiece. I can see it going down as one of the top albums of the 21st century. Definitely worth buying!

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Comments on this review

  • 1st2thebar published 23/05/2017
    Format rethink required.
  • TheTurtleMoves published 14/04/2017
    For me the decline of Green Day started here. Their shorter, punchier tracks were much better. From this point on it was often pandering to the mainstream
  • DodoRabbit published 03/04/2017
    Excellent review! I have no Es left though
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Product Information : American Idiot (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Green Day

Manufacturer's product description

Rock & Pop - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Reprise - Distributor: Arvato Services, Forte - Released: 30/05/2005 - 93624939122

Product Details

EAN: 93624939122

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