Give 'Em The Boot IV
by Mike D'Ariano
remember exactly where I was in 1997 when I heard that Tim Armstrong of Rancid and Brett Gurewitz, owner of Epitaph Records and founding member of Bad Religion, were teaming up to form a new record label called Hellcat Records. I was backstage at the Warped Tour, and as soon as I heard the news, I knew that what it really meant was that there were now two labels who's releases I could pretty much always buy without hearing them first! It wasn't long after the announcement that the first Hellcat release, a compilation called Give 'Em The Boot was in my CD player. The disc featured Rancid, The Slackers, Union 13 and a bunch of other punk, ska and hardcore acts, most of which I had heard of, but never actually heard. I remember thinking that it was exciting to hear a compilation that wasn't pigeonholed into one genre or another. Fast forward 8 years and two more excellent Give 'Em The Boot compilations and we come to the newest release, Give 'Em The Boot IV.
While the new disc falls right into line with its predecessors, featuring great songs in genres ranging from rock-a-billy to reggae, and of course more traditional punk rock, the bands included vary greatly from those on previous installments. Give 'Em the Boot IV features fifteen bands that have never appeared in the series before, the most new faces since Volume I which was by default an entirely new grouping. Conversely, the newest edition to the series also features less returning bands than any of its predecessors; eleven veteran acts resurface on Volume IV.
Label co-owner Tim Armstrong and his Rancid band mates have the most appearances overall throughout the four discs, with 5 actual Rancid tracks, plus side projects like The Silencers, Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards, and The Transplants, along with guest spots playing with Buju Banton, Buccaneer and others. Other than Rancid, only three bands have made all four Give 'Em The Boot compilations. They are Dropkick Murphys, F-Minus and The Slackers. Punk rocker extraordinaire Duane Peters has also been on all four discs, singing with the U.S. Bombs on Volumes I-III and with Die Hunns on Volumes III and IV.
Volume IV proudly boasts 17 previously unreleased tracks. There's a sticker on the cover that proclaims this and says that among those unreleased tracks, one is from Rancid. Unfortunately that's just outright not true. I honestly can't speak for the other 16 "unreleased" tracks, but I can tell you that the Rancid track most definitely was released before - twice. The tune, "Killing Zone", was included along with a song called "Stranded" on an overseas version of the latest Rancid album, Indestructible. The version with the extra tracks is readily available from Amazon.com as an import. Now you're probably thinking "Come on Mike, so it was available on an import which costs twice as much as the CD. That doesn't count." Well both songs were also easily available for sale domestically through the iTunes music store for $0.99 each&.and that does count.
Now I would have bought Give 'Em The Boot IV with or without the exclusive Rancid track. I just find it really irritating that the packaging claimed something that was in fact not included. When you think about it, the same people that would be interested in a rare Rancid track, are the very people that would have sought out the track when it was initially made available, and somehow that makes it worse. Seems like something a major label would do, not a traditionally fan-friendly indie.
Other than the exclusive track debacle, I have no complaints about Give 'Em The Boot IV. The music itself has it's high points and low points just as you'd expect from any CD featuring twenty-six different bands. In this case, the highs definitely outnumber the lows. In fact there are only one or two songs I'm not really into, where as "unreleased" tracks from Joe Strummer and Dropkick Murphys along with the Necromantix cover of Rancid's "Dead Bodies" have gotten lots of playtime on my iPod.
All in all, I'd say this disc is essential if you're a fan of the series. It's one of the better installments of an already exceptional bunch. If you're unfamiliar with the other volumes, this is as good a place to start as any. All four discs are really good, and they're all specially priced at $6.00 apiece, so you're not risking much if you decide to try them out.
||Killing Zone* - Rancid
Dirty Reggae - The Aggrolites
Atomic - Tiger Army
Propaganda* - The Slackers
Kiss Kiss Kill Kill - Roger Miret And The Disasters
Lost Paradise - U.S. Roughnecks
Caught In Between* - F-Minus
Marshall Law* - Die Hunns
I'm Shipping Up To Boston* - Dropkick Murphys
1% - Lars Frederiksen And The Bastards
That's What I Know* - Brain Failure
Let There Be Peace - Chris Murray
Dead Bodies* - Nekromantix
Romper Stomper (remix)* - Transplants
Junco Partner (LIVE)* - Joe Strummer And The Mescaleros
No Rest For The Weekend* - Orange
Dia De Los Muertos * - Rezurex
Waste Of Time* - The Unseen
Break Me* - Ducky Boys
Where They Wander - HorrorPops
S.C. Drunx - South Central Riot Squad
Trauma* - Mercy Killers
Skinwalkers* - 12 Step Rebels
Wasted Life - The Escaped
Rise Up* - Pressure Point
Room To Breathe* - Westbound Train
||* Denotes tracks listed as previously unreleased