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Nostalgia 101: The Wonders of the 90s: My first punk rock album

By Matt Gantos
On February 16, 2014

The 90s were full of famous trios: Green Day, Ash, Brock and Misty, 3LW, Ed, Edd and Eddy, but my favorite of all time is Blink-182.
My first Blink album was "Enema of the State," which was released in 1999 and sold over 15 million copies worldwide. "Enema of the State" was the band's third full-length album after "Cheshire Cat" (1995) and "Dude Ranch" (1997).
Of course, since I was only seven years old at the time, I wasn't allowed to get the explicit version of the record, but that was a small detail at the time. I remember walking into the record store with my mother to buy it, picking up the case and showing it to her. When she looked at the art on the cover, a scantily-clad and attractive woman in a nurse costume pulling on a blue latex glove, she almost wouldn't buy it for me.
It wasn't really what was on the outside that I was concerned with, though; I couldn't wait to own my first punk rock CD.
I immediately went home and put it in the boombox in my room. Remember those? They were like CD players that weren't in your car. Anyway, I listened to the whole thing straight through with no breaks and proceeded to memorize it in the coming weeks.
A few years later, when I downloaded the explicit version of the album, I was very thrown off. There were words where pauses used to be and I no longer had a perfect handle on all of the lyrics. Did this happen to anyone else with their favorite records?
Truth be told, "Enema of the State" wasn't my favorite Blink album; "Take Off Your Pants and Jacket" holds that throne, but that was put out in 2001. "Enema" had some great tracks too, "Dumpweed," "Going Away to College," "What's My Age Again?" and of course "All the Small Things," which may be my least favorite of the album despite its popularity.
The two albums preceding "Enema" were also very good but had a much different sound. The overall sound of the record was much more raw and punk oriented compared to the pop element that came into play later toward their peak in the early 2000s.
Even though I generally believe they peaked in the early 2000s, they will always be a 90s band to me because that is what their style represented.
Their style, like most bands, has changed drastically over time, and now that the band is nearing the 20-year anniversary of their first full-length album, it's interesting to see their progression.
For the most part, their six albums can be grouped into pairs chronologically. "Cheshire Cat" and "Dude Ranch" go together and have the most similar sounds, "Enema" and "Take off Your Pants and Jacket," another good combo. Next, before and after the hiatus from 2003-2008, the self-titled album and "Neighborhoods" have the most things in common including extensive layering, synth and deeper lyrics.
People often complain when bands don't sound the same as they did at the beginning of their career, but it is a perfectly sane and logical move. No one wants to play the same songs over and over, and we change and grow as people. Different things become important to us and our own preferred style of music changes.
Blink-182 is one of those bands that may no longer be making raw punk rock like they were in the 90s, but it doesn't mean the quality of their music is less - it just accomplishes something different.
If you're a big Blink fan - I know there's plenty of you out there - tweet at me @GiGantoss and we can nerd out.

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