Never, ever sleep on the B-sides.
...unless there aren't any to sleep on. For the first time in Green Day's quarter-century-long career, the band hasn't released even a single B-side from their latest album, Revolution Radio (other than a live performance of "Letterbomb"...meh). It's unfortunate, because considering the power that the album packs, I'm sure fans would eat up any further bonus material that didn't quite make the cut.
That said, maybe the lack of outtakes this time has something to do with how open, public and massive the last recording process was for the trilogy albums. We got 37 songs from just the three records alone — that's basically unheard of from any other band. Not to mention Demolicious, the raw demos compilation released for Record Store Day a few years back. To back this up, Billie Joe says of the trilogy: "Those records have absolutely no direction to them. It was about being prolific for the sake of it. So we were just going and going." And the extra material just kept coming. We probably won't see as ambitious a project as the trilogy from Green Day (or anyone, really) for quite a long time.
In order to help fill the Revolution-Radio-sized B-side void, I thought I'd list some of the non-album tracks that deserve more praise and attention. Veteran fans might well recognize a handful of these, but each is well worth another listen.
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- 5. "You Lied" — (from the "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" single)
Recorded during the Insomniac sessions, this one is peak Green Day angst with a retro rock n' roll feel. The chorus is catchy enough to grace any of the band's nineties studio albums, in my opinion.
Billie Joe taunts and condemns a pathological liar, saying, "Your nose is growing into the third dimension." It was cast into a pretty simple mold in terms of song structure, yet it's really, really punchy and satisfyingly dark. Insomniac is Green Day's most underrated album without a doubt, so this track hits the mark for me.
4. "Suffocate" — (from the "Warning" single)
First things first, I know what you're going to say: "That song was on Shenanigans, too!" It sure was. And Shenanigans is a great album, but it's also a compilation, not a studio release.
The opening phrase, "3am, I'm drunk again..." peaked my interest the first time I heard it. I thought, "Oh, shit...where's this going?" and I wasn't disappointed. Anyone who's endured a night drinking that lasted beyond enjoyment and into the wee hours of the morn' can appreciate this one. The regrets, the puking — it's all in here, wrapped up into a box of power-chords! It's pretty easy to adapt the lyrics to the modern era, too: "Slipped into a coma once again / Where's my [Uber driver] to lend a hand?"
3. "Lights Out" — (from the "Know Your Enemy" single)
I'm just going to tell it like it is here: this song is better than the single it appeared on. "Know Your Enemy" is bland and very predictable. "Lights Out," on the other hand would've been the perfect first single to introduce the world to post-American-Idiot Green Day back in 2009...but, alas.
It's punk, it's got an exciting and not at all boring drum beat (looking at you, "Know Your Enemy"...ugh), the guitar tracks are menacing and command attention to the melody. The bridge is absolutely brilliant — we hear the pulsating drum track and echo-y guitar stabs as Billie Joe yells, "Lights out, here comes the night / As the darkness falls over the light." Yet, somehow, "Know Your Enemy" and "Christian's Inferno" made the cut for 21st Century Breakdown instead. Yikes...
2. "Favorite Son" — (from the "American Idiot" promo single)
This is Green Day at their mid-2000's, Bush-bashing best, calling George W. the "favorite son" of American conservatives. The boiling rage and vitriol in this one catches your attention immediately. Even if you didn't know this song was about Bush, you'd know pretty quickly that Billie Joe really, really doesn't like whoever he's yelling about.
The rhythmic guitars shove you backwards into your chair the entire time, something the band had perfected by the American Idiot era. During the bridge, Billie Joe opts for a couple lines of smooth "ahhh" sounds instead of a full solo, which adds an almost evil-sounding quality to the track. The lyrical highlight for me, though? "Well, no one says it's fair / Turn a teenage lush to a millionaire / Now where's your fuckin' champion?"
1. "Too Much Too Soon" — (from the "American Idiot" single)
I'm not exaggerating at all when I say that this track is one of my top 10 favorite Green Day songs ever, from any album. I think the reason I enjoy it so much is because it combines nineties Green Day lyrics about non-political, relatable situations (in this case, a failing relationship) with the sound, production and musical style of the American Idiot album.
Just listen to the guitars in the intro...they're so catchy, and powerfully anchor the rest of the song's melody. I also love how huge the drums sound — Tré Cool absolutely shines. The lyrics, in my opinion, are up there with Billie Joe's best. There are too many lines that make me sit back and think, "Damn..." to fully list here. The best has to be: "We are, we are / But I'm not, I never used to be / So god bless your fucking past and to hell with your glory" Are you kidding me?!?! A B-side?!