Monday, December 17, 2012

Clams Have Feelings Too

The Decline
1999, Fat Wreck Chords
produced by Fat Mike?
Fat Mike - vocals, bass
Eric Melvin - guitar
Eric Smelly - drums
El Hefe - guitar, trumpet
Lars Nylander - trombone

If this isn't the best punk rock EP of all time, it is certainly the most epic.  After putting out the Fuck the Kids 7" EP earlier in the '90s that tried to recapture the old school sloppy '80s hardcore sound, NoFX decided to go the complete opposite direction and record one super long song.  The 2 minutes or less tracks on Fuck the Kids (1996) and later on Surfer (2001) were written by Fat Mike in 2 minutes or less and recorded by the band without rehearsal in one take.  In comparison, The Decline took time and consideration to write, practice, record and perfect, culminating in 3 trips to the studio, and 4 remasterings before it was finally finished.

This is the Thick as a Brick of punk rock.  The EP is one track, 18 minutes and 19 seconds long.  Only Crass wrote a punk song longer when they released Yes Sir, I Will at 20 minutes in 1983.  However, Fat Mike stated they got the idea from the Subhumans song From the Cradle to the Grave.  

The band rocks out to lyrical themes of the decline of values and constitutional rights in favor of capitalism, complacency and conformity.  There are horn parts, including a trombone solo by Lars Nylander from Skankin' Pickle.  Fat Mike called this song a "total nightmare", and they almost never play it live.

This is worth listening to just for curiosity's sake.  Fans of NoFX probably consider it a must own, especially on vinyl.  There is an extra b-side track on the vinyl version.  I agree with the note on the back sleeve of the album that states not to pay more than $11.00.  It is one track, regardless of how long it is.  iTunes charges $7.99, which I think is still too high.  You can probably pick it up for around $5 or less on Amazon or eBay. The limited edition clear vinyl pressing goes for around $1000 when put up for auction, which is insane.  

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