It’s testament to just how long Texan Pop-Punks Bowling For Soup have been around that they are able to release greatest hits anthology ‘Songs That People Actually Liked – Volume 1 – The First Ten Years (1994-2003)’ and have it cover less than half of their career. And as each gem from the Denton outfit’s early career brings back fresh waves of nostalgia, you won’t be able to help but smile.
Time has done nothing to dull the relentlessly cheerful, infectious nature of BFS’ powerchord driven tales of breakups, sex and hilarious relationship misadventures. Or the tongue in cheek lyrical quips and gags. Even if now some of the pop-culture references may part the hair of younger listeners as they sail over their heads.
As you’d expect basically all of the band’s biggest hits are present. (Ok not ‘1985’ as that was on 2004’s ‘A Hangover You Don’t Deserve’) As the band would themselves would probably admit, they were at the height of their popularity in the early 2000s making the singles included here their most well-known and recognisable work. Hell you still can’t go to any rock club night with there being a strong likelihood of hearing ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’ at some point during the night. And alongside the excellent ‘The Bitch Song’, ‘Emily’ and ‘Punk Rock 101’ the track still provides a blueprint for simple, relatable uplifting pop-punk that entertains and is catchier then an unfortunately placed rash. Indeed any young band starting out in the genre could learn plenty from listening to this greatest hits.
Most bands are happy to simply release a greatest hits featuring the original studio recordings and leave it at that. Nice and easy with no real work involved. Not BFS however, even if previously their former record label did exactly that without involving them in the process, or for that matter, bothering to tell them. For this compilation the band have taken time in the studio and recorded completely new versions of every song included. Something which is one of the best things about this compilation, as it has resulted in almost every song sounding better than they ever have. Particularly the songs from ‘Tell Me When To Whoa’ and BFS self-titled debut album. But the updated versions ‘Punk Rock 101’ and ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’ are also even tighter, faster and punchier then the originals and have tweaked guitar tones and reworked vocal arrangements; making them closer to how the band play them live and giving them a more rounded complete feel.
Another nice touch of this compilation is the reminder of some of the often over looked and under-rated tracks from the BFS archive such as ‘Suckerpunch’, ‘Belgium’ and ‘Life After Lisa’.
The compilation ends with new song ’20 Years (That’s A Lot Of Beers)’, a gag and anecdote laden acoustic homage to the band’s career to date complete with drunken escapades, matching tattoos and playful jibes at some of the bands that have come and gone in that time. And beer, naturally.
‘Songs People Actually Liked – Volume One – The First Ten Years (1994-2003)’ is an excellent and super enjoyable tribute to everything that has made Jaret, Erik, Gary and Chris four of the world’s most beloved Texans. It may not be clever, cool, or musically complex or innovative but it will make you smile, a lot. And that’s really what counts. So grab a beer, stick on this collection and bounce up and down with your mates and enjoy the happier, simpler things in life.
‘Songs People Actually Liked – Volume One- The First Ten Years (1994-2003)’ by Bowling For Soup is released on 26th January.
Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright