20th Anniversary Review: Green Day – ‘Dookie’

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Exactly twenty years (well, that’s probably not accurate to the precise second) have passed since the release of of Green Day’s breakout album, ‘Dookie’. Released not long after the death of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and the resultant demise of grunge,  Billie Joe Armstrong and co.’s 1994 album builds on that genre’s trademark quiet/loud format, as made famous by the Pixies and their legions of Nineties imitators. The record kicks off with ‘Burnout’, the chorus of which includes the words, “I’m not growing up / I’m just burning out / As I stand in line to walk amongst the dead”. It also features other introspective, timeless lyrics that many in ‘Generation X’ and other generations can relate to; too many lyrics, in fact, to quote them all in this article. However, one highlight besides ‘Burnout’ is ‘Welcome to Paradise’, surely an anthem for students and first time home-owners everywhere. The song also features a great building interlude with somewhat Strokes-like interaction between guitar and bass. Several parts of the album, including ‘She’ and the ending of ‘Chump’ also feature a sense of building momentum which ends in some cases in an explosive display of rock-‘n’-roll power. There are other great moments:  for instance, the jazzy-but-still-punk ‘Longview’ featuring a swingin’ rhythm section and powerful chorus. Plus, who can forget ‘Basket Case’, possibly the album’s most brilliant track?

However, it’s not all awesomeness. ‘F.O.D.’, despite being a fine example of the aforementioned grungy dynamics, is lacking in the same build-up that was part of what made songs like ‘Basket Case’ so great, and features the rather awful lyric, “You’re just / A fuck / I can’t explain it ‘cos I think you suck”. ‘Sassafras Roots’ and ‘Pulling Teeth’ are also arguably overly simple in some ways, and then there’s the sometimes-good-but-sometimes annoying ‘In the End’ and the near-tedious Tré Cool showcase, a hidden track entitled ‘All By Myself’. Moreover, the album may have benefited from even more variety: it lacks the the acoustic beauty of ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’, the politicized offence of the title track from ‘American Idiot’  or the emotive melancholy of ‘Macy’s Day Parade’.

Even though the above faults are present, here we have an album chock full of great riffs and not lacking in catchiness or energy, plus, at times, good or even excellent lyrics. ‘Dookie’ is arguably their best album, at least until ‘American Idiot’ arrived just over ten years later, and overall, despite its flaws, a fine document of pretention-free pop punk.

8/10

David J. Lownds
David J. Lownds is an aspiring author and philosopher who also writes for Muso’s Guide, Far Out Magazine and his own blog (davidjlownds.wordpress.com). He listens to almost every style of music from jazz to grunge to underground hip-hop, and is learning to play bass and acoustic guitar. CURRENTLY LISTENING TO: Libertines, Green Day, John Frusciante, Arctic Monkeys SPECIALIST SUBJECT: The life and work of Dave Grohl, and Anthony Kiedis.

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