I still vividly remember my original introduction to NOFX. During the summer of 1994, I discovered punk rock through Green Day and Offspring. When another kid in my high school found out I was into those bands, he highly recommended that I get NOFX's Punk in Drublic. I was a little hesitant at first, so I forced one of my younger brother's friends to buy it himself. Without any previous knowledge of the band, he actually ended up getting the tape version, and we played it together that same afternoon. It's been a little over 10 years since that day, and I've been a fan of NOFX ever since. This new compilation, while certainly not essential for longtime fans who own their entire discography, is a great introduction to a younger kid that may be getting into punk rock through some of the newer bands and may not be familiar with NOFX. And while this is not necessarily essential for the longtime fan that owns their entire discography, The Greatest Songs... does present most of their classics in one nice package for easy travel and those long car rides.
This album showcases the band's 21-year career, from the thrashy Liberal Animation to the politically charged The War on Errorism. 21 years is certainly a long time, and it's amazing to hear the differences between a song like "Shut Up Already" and "Franco Un-American," not just musically, but lyrically and thematically as well. Fat Mike's views on the world have undoubtedly changed quite a bit. I also like how the band sequenced all the songs. While it can be weird to hear "Linoleum" not followed immediately by "Leave It Alone," or hear the intro to "Bob" without having just finished "Stickin' In My Eye," there is a constant flow in the tracks. I much prefer it this way than if it were done chronologically.
There are of course bound to be omissions from any greatest hits compilation, and it would be impossible to satisfy every fan's tastes; otherwise they might as well just release a box set with all their records. But personally, I would have made a few changes here and there. Most notably absent are the classics "Liza and Louise," "Perfect Government," "The Brews," and "Please Play This Song on the Radio." Granted, "Perfect Government" was technically not written by NOFX, but I've always felt it's one of the classic staple songs that defines the band. The same can be said for the other three, especially "The Brews," which happens to be one of their most popular songs, and "Liza and Louise," which shows the band's dirtier side. I guess "The Decline" would have also been a welcome addition, but the reason for its omission is obvious.
The band also includes the obligatory unreleased song, and this comes in the form of "Wore Out the Soles of My Party Boots." It's classic NOFX and fits nicely into this collection. All of the songs on the record have been re-mastered, and while that may not be that much of an issue with their newer releases, there is a substantial improvement on the tracks off of Liberal Animation, S&M Airlines, Ribbed, and even White Trash...Lastly, there as interesting and very funny 24-page booklet which includes not only flyers and photographs of the band's entire career, but also some hilarious interviews and (mostly negative) album reviews. The band may poke fun at themselves, but there's no doubt that they've been one of the leading punk rock bands of the last 20 years. This collection does an excellent job in summarizing their career in a manner that everyone should be able to enjoy.