Dr. Strange finishes up its look at the career of Government Issue on this disc, compiling their last three albums (two studio and one live) and a couple unreleased tracks onto two CDs. Taking both volumes of this as a whole, it’s pretty neat to see how the band went from point A to point B, from playing tuneless, over-the-top hardcore to mid-tempo punk with pop overtones. You can hear the progression and see more clearly how they ended up where they did. While I’ve never been a fan of their later work (and still ain’t, to be honest), I can now say I’ve earned considerably more respect for it, and can now see that what I once thought was a total 180-degree turn in abject wimpdom was actually (as was the case of many of their peers in DC) an attempt to stretch the narrow parameters they found themselves in by aligning themselves with punk rock, and create a new kinda ruckus from the old. Can’t say it works for me, but it is good for what it is and I appreciate their effort, even if my appreciation is 10+ years too late. As I said in my review of the first volume a few issues back, I really wish they’d seen fit to include the early demo with “Everybody’s Getting Mad” and their version of “Stepping Stone,” but, this gripe aside, both volumes of Complete History still serve as an essential look at an often essential, usually underrated band that had the gumption to slam and spit with the rest of ’em and had the balls to take a chance on growing up.
–jimmy (Dr. Strange)