Fat Wreck Chords first released No Use For A Name’s All The Best Songs back in 2007. One more full-length album followed before the tragic passing of front man Tony Sly in 2012, and the official disbandment of No Use For A Name. In numerous “Fat Wrecked for 25 Years” interviews, label co-owner Fat Mike repeatedly referred to Tony Sly as the best songwriter in the Fat Wreck Chords family. With the re-release of All The Best Songs, now to include songs from the final album, Fat Wreck Chords continues to show their devotion to one of their most important and beloved bands in the history of the label.
I wasn’t a fan of this release in 2007 because I was sure there was more music to come. And I was right, even if only by an album. Now that the band has officially come to an end, depressing as that may be, a retrospective album of the band’s entire catalogue is appropriate. All The Best Songs is a worthy representation, if not entirely comprehensive; despite being billed as the “definitive collection” of the band’s 27-year career, missing are songs from NUFAN’s first two albums, Incognito and Don’t Miss the Train, though given the collection’s title, perhaps that is by design.
The great thing about “Best Of…” albums by bands that had little, if any, mainstream success is that it is the band and the fans that, over time, determine which songs are the best, rather than MCA, Sony, or another major record label giant pre-determining ahead of time which songs will be played on the radio. For example, “21 Guns” reached no. 22 on the charts, though it wouldn’t make my personal Green Day playlist.
No Use For A Name did have genuine radio hits – “Soulmate” (1995) received air time on MTV, and “Coming to Close” (1999) was better than most modern rock singles of the year. The hits are all here, but they’re not going to fill out a 28-song greatest hits album, so the remaining twenty-some-odd tracks are filled with songs the band and their fans have organically determined over the years to be the best.
If you are new to No Use For A Name, and don’t have the means to purchase their entire catalogue, then this is the perfect place to start. If, however, you are like me and already own everything NUFAN has put out, then buying All The Best Songs may seem unnecessary. I can make my own mix, and there are roughly a half-dozen songs I would have left off of this disc in favor of others (i.e. “Friends of the Enemy” is inexplicably not included). Furthermore, the two exclusive songs from the 2007 version – “History Defeats” and “Stunt Double” – have been taken off for the reissue. Still, I offer three reasons why this album is worth buying:
- If you’re stuck in the 20th century, like I am, and you have your No Use For A Name albums neatly organized and displayed on a rack in full view, how can you live with yourself knowing that the collection is incomplete?
- Also for the hard copy fans: the liner notes are fantastic, and somewhat different from the original release. There is a sentence or two on every song, and write-ups by long-time band members, former members, and even drummer Rory’s mom!
- The songs have all been remastered. Remastering differs from remixing in that remastering only improves the sound quality without actually changing the song. For example, if I was making my own No Use For A Name playlist, songs off of 2008’s The Feel Good Album of the Year are much louder next to songs off of 1995’s Leche Con Carne. That is annoying, but, among other things, remastering solves that problem.
I loved No Use For A Name and I still consider them one of my all-time favorite bands. I’m clinging to the hope that there is previously unreleased material lying around that can be compiled for a future B-sides and Rarities album. I don’t want this to be the end. If it is, though, All The Best Song is a fitting send-off and tribute of the legacy left by No Use For A Name.