We've been having fun examining various one-hit wonders and FM curiosities of the '90s each week with our Throwback Thursday columns, but now it's time to get serious and examine one of the biggest records on the '90s: Dookie by Green Day.
Dookie was a game-changer, both for young millennials and Green Day itself. The band already had released two albums that embraced the classic Lookout! records sound, including the pop punk classic Kerplunk!.
But Dookie was Green Day's ticket to mainstream success; the band left indie label Lookout! -- and earned the ire of the Berkeley music community, resulting in a ban from the legendary underground venue 924 Gilman Street for "being sellouts." (The Berkley venue bans any major-label artist yet allowed Green Day to perform once again in 2001.)
But in spite of the criticisms, Dookie is a classic album, yielding massive hits "Longview," "Basket Case," and "When I Come Around" and paving the way to Green Day's continued rock superstardom.
The mid-'90s were a great time to be introduced to punk. As an only child, it was the only option I had. I didn't have a cool older sibling to introduce me to The Clash; I had to go the long way and figure it out on my own. I realize staunch crust punks will disagree, but bands like Green Day and The Offspring are great gateways to punk. Green Day piqued my interest in Lookout! records and I discovered great bands like Operation Ivy that kind of sort of sounded like Rancid, for obvious reasons.
I believe Dookie is Green Day's best album, and not just because it's the band's highest-grossing album. The trio was at its prime in the mid- to late '90s. Dookie, Insomniac, and Nimrod were all fantastic primers on the world of pop punk. Warning had a couple of good songs but was a sign of things to come. I never would have guessed that in 10 years, the band would be sporting guyliner and turning an album into a musical.
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I still think "Basket Case" is the definitive Green Day song, though "American Idiot" will probably steal that title someday. I liked Green Day before they got overly political and put on the guyliner. After all, songs about breakups, jerking off, and smoking weed resonate better with teenagers, at least they did back in my day. I don't mean to sound like an old lady, but Dookie came out in 1994. That's a long time ago.
Singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong is no longer the blue-haired punk-ass kid dodging mud balls thrown at Woodstock '94, but at least songs like "2,000 Light Years Away" still find their way into Green Day's live set. I'm just bummed I wasn't able to see Green Day live before American Idiot came out; it would have been nice to see the band spend more time actually playing songs instead of hyping the crowd.
It's normal for a band, and its fans, to grow up. But Dookie is a tuneful, compact, obnoxious reminder of a time when that was the least of anybody's concerns.