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Band: VA
Album: Give 'em The Boot
Label: Hellcat
Year: 1997
Reviewer: Shindo

       I have a love / hate relationship with compilations. On one hand they are cheap samplers with a variety of bands. Many of the bands I listen to now I learned of from compilations. However, I dislike how (after a short amount of time) the compilations sit untouched in a pile on the floor, not even granted a space on the rack. This is due to the fact that most compilations are selling tools, like a Sears catalogue of punk rock, which don't lend themselves well to continued listening.

       The Give 'Em The Boot series is different. Hellcat knows something about putting out a compilation that other labels fail to realize. That is that the albums WORK as albums. At best most comps are an enjoyable collection of songs, the listener skipping tracks to hear their favourite artist. Give 'Em The Boot has managed to make a widely varied group songs flow and fit together.

       Hellcat has proved to be a much more interesting label then it's parent Epitaph. Probably due to the musical tastes of Tim Armstrong, the releases have almost all been roots Ska or street punk (or a combination of the two). Hellcat is more focused in terms of the overall “sound” of the label, and this is reflected on the comp. A band like The Business (“Spirit of the Streets”) may seem to have little in common with a ska band such as Skinnerbox (“Does He Love You”), yet both artists show lyrical and thematic similarities. To have a compilation that works on that level is a feat in itself. The Swinging Utters 1995 track “Fifteenth and T” is followed by a ten-year-older Skataites song (“Latin Goes Ska”), yet again the combination works.

       There are some standout tracks included here as well. The unreleased Rancid track (“The Brothels”) is good, and the Rancid side project The Silencers deliver an infectious and outstanding song (“Policeman”). While not all the songs are unreleased, they represent some of the included bands' best work. The Stubborn Allstars “Open Season,” and Choking Victim's “Infected” are perfect examples. There are very little out-of-place songs, except for Union 13's Spanish cover of “Roots Radicals,” which is slightly amusing at best. Not all of the bands on the comp are necessarily Hellcat bands either. This helps the mix since the non-Hellcat bands have sounds that would fit well into the labels roster.

       Obviously, a fan of only punk will dislike about half this album; the same goes for a strict ska fan. Those who enjoy both styles will be quite pleased.

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Web: Hellcat