Two things in particular stand out about this collection. The first being that the chosen tracklist is properly excellent, the songs here are absolutely the strongest from ZH’s first few years. Many of which are still firm live favourites (‘Jag Off’ or ‘Into You’ for example) even if they weren’t ever big well known singles.
The second is that this isn’t just a hastily repackaged assemblage of the original recordings. This is in fact completely rerecorded versions of the songs by Zebrahead the 2015 edition. This means that those who already know, love and regularly still listen to the originals will be ever so slightly wrong footed hearing Matty Lewis’ vocals on studio versions of old songs, rather then those of original frontman Justin Mauriello. Consequently these updated versions are obviously much closer to what ZH fans have been hearing live at shows for years, with many suitably speeded up to further add to the reminiscence to the way the songs are live.
Now it may be a matter of personal preference, or possibly just the warm glow of nostalgia, but with no disrespect intended to Lewis (he’s a damned excellent frontman) Mauriello’s original vocals were noticeably stronger and more melodic in their delivery, particularly on tracks like the afore mentioned ‘Into You’, ‘Rescue Me’ and the band’s biggest early hit, the hilariously tongue in cheek ‘Playmate of The Year’.
Oh and there are two brand new tracks thrown in to the mix to. ‘Sex, Lies & Audiotape’ and ‘Devil On My Shoulder’ with the former, a ridiculously feel good pop-punk party track complete with grooving bass intro, lightning quick vocals and a killer classic rock style guitar solo, definitely being the stronger of the pair.
Still, minor gripes aside, it’s great to have the prompting to listen to these old favourites from the ZH back catalogue. ‘Hello Tomorrow’ et all are all insanely fun reminders of the anthemic genre crossing gems that, even years after they were first released, are as energising and pogo inducing then any amount of caffeine . For new fans looking to get the best of Zebrahead’s beginnings and not have to layout much cash ‘The Early Years Revisited’ is an essential buy. For long term fans it’s simply a riotous trip down memory lane.
‘The Early Years Revisited’ by Zebrahead is out now on Rude Records
Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)