This may sound familiar to the more astute Lagwagon-ophiles among us, but reviewing a reissue of an album that was pivotal to one’s formative, punk rock listening years can be a daunting task. Lagwagon’s 1994 release “Trashed” is on the short list of albums that introduced me to the genre in middle school. While not my favorite Lagwagon album (that honor is reserved for “Double Plaidinum”), I do certainly owe it a debt of gratitude for even being in the position to write this review today.
As with my review of the aforementioned “Double Plaidinum” that came a couple of months ago, this isn’t a review of the original tracks that you already know and love and have burned into your cerebellum. The remastered tracks, as you might expect, all sound great; crisp and clean with punchier guitars and full sounds emanating from the rhythm section. In short, the way that they were intended to be heard.
The bonus tracks are, as previously stated, what “makes or breaks” any reissue. Unlike with “Double Plaidinum,” however, the demos on “Trashed” tip the scale a little more toward “break” than I feel comfortable admitting.
It’s not really that the unreleased stuff is bad; far from it. It just doesn’t really do anything to improve the listening experience. Most of the tracks are demos of songs that are already on the album, so if you listen to the twenty-seven tracks start to finish, you’re hearing half of the original tracks twice (and “Whipping Boy” three times, as it turns out). Most of the demo tracks are essentially unmastered, rough mixed versions of the original tracks, so it doesn’t lend the impression that you’re hearing anything new. The “Lazy” demo, for example, sounds like it was recorded in a sweaty Santa Barbara basement club and is missing Fat Mike’s secondary vocals.
There are some interesting moments, however. The “Path of Least Resistance – Chemikill demo” contains a riff that you’ll instantly recognize, and contains what is easily the best metal guitar shredding of any song in the Lagwagon catalog (though the intro does sound a little like Candlebox). “Jazzy Jeff” sounds like one minute clipped from an average four-bar blues band that would otherwise jam for 25 minutes trading lead solos. It’s really sort of a weird track, honestly.
“Whipping boy – acoustic” is about what you’d expect from acoustic Caper at this point. It’s fairly true to the original, but Cape’s sullen voice gives the song infinitely more depth and feeling than the revved up original (and the demo version).
All-in-all, the “Trashed” reissue isn’t bad…it just isn’t overtly special. If you’re going to spend you’re money on one of Lagwagon’s reissues, make it “Double Plaidinum.” This one is probably better suited to the serious Lagwagon collectors.