One has to bestow a certain amount of respect towards Boston's favorite punks, The Dropkick Murphys, for releasing an album like this. Comprised of what appeared on the band's various early 7"s and a collection of live tracks from the band's insane record release party at the Middle East in Cambridge, Mass for their full length debut Do Or Die, this was released just under one year ago.
The old tracks sound very much underproduced when compared to versions that would eventually appear on albums. While this is a valid complaint, I can appreciate that when these versions were recorded, the band was probably rather short on funds.
There are exceptions to that rule. John Law, a song that hasn't been released elsewhere to my knowledge, rocks out strong, with driving guitars and vocals propelled by a very steady rhythmic tone.
The live version of the Clash's Career Opportuniteis sounds fantastic as well, sounding twice as fierce as the original in this live setting.
While the studio tracks don't exactly stand up when compared to the Murphys other material, the live tracks, 10 taken from the previously mentioned Do or Die release party, the other taken from the Murphys last performance at the now defunct classic nightclub The Rat, are positively awesome.
Speaking as someone who was at the record release party, I can safely say that capturing exactly what went on in that room on a CD (or a video for that matter) would be impossible. However, I can also safely say that the live tracks do just about as good a job as one could hope for.
The live tracks bristle with energy and spunk, buoyed by the feverish, overpacked crowd shouting out every single word, despite the fact the Do or Die record still was 2 days away from it's official release.
The true highlight may be Skinhead on the MBTA, a frantic take on a song that has become something of a true old school anthem to the Murphys Boston brethren. While the other live tracks are very well done, none of them come close to touching this version of Skinhead.
What's sad is that I can only recommend this album to true Dropkick Murphys diehards. With 24 tracks, and only about half of them being worth the time, it's not exactly an album for the casual fan. For those casual fans, I heartily recommend any one of the three "real" full length Dropkick Murphy releases, especially the brand new Sing Loud, Sing Proud.