D.I.: Greatest Hits A-Z: CD

Have some mixed feelings about this one. Not because it’s terrible, or “I hate the band,” blah blah blah. No, quite the opposite, really. From roughly 1983-’88, D.I. were one of the gems of Southern California’s punk scene, one perpetually pushed into the shadow of sibling-band Adolescents (who were in turn perpetually pushed into the shadow of their rightfully considered “classic” first album, but I digress) but nonetheless managed to stake their own claim in the underground until the usual stuff that often happens to bands came calling and, while still active, they haven’t quite reached the same heights. They were by turns funny, witty, and biting and sported a set list jam-packed with the crème de la crème of tunes culled from Casey and Rikk’s earlier band, The Detours, and Rikk’s first solo album, All By Myself, as well as some classics written specifically for the band. Collected here are the crème de la crème of the tunes from their most celebrated era in the form of re-recordings of their entire first EP, most of the Ancient Artifacts and Horse Bites, Dog Cries LPs, two tunes from the Tragedy Again LP, one from the State of Shock LP, and one from the Team Goon reissue of their first EP. While we can devolve into endless arguments over the finer points of “the originals, warts and all, were better,” the performances here are on-point—tight, spirited, zippy, and benefit well from modern recording tech. And yes, the songs are still fuckin’ bangers in their own right and, if one is new to D.I., this isn’t a bad place to start to get a nice overview of what they were/are capable of. The “mixed feelings” is this: I dunno if the band has long ago run out of ideas—their last album of mostly “new” material was released fourteen years ago—or if the punk “scene” has so devolved into nostalgia that, much like huge “festival” shows of the last couple of decades being the only way bands can draw a decent crowd and maybe get paid more than the cost of a decent burrito, writing and releasing anything but “greatest hits” packages is a sure-fire way for bands to end up in debt and up to their eyeballs in 12” beer coasters. With all the shit perpetually going on from which to draw inspiration, bands shouldn’t be forced to rely on thirty-eight-year-old set lists and “fans” shouldn’t be so rigidly complacent to only want the “classics.” In summation, yeah, this sounds fuckin’ aces, punker, but I’d much rather try a new shake flavor at the soda fountain—even if I ultimately don’t dig it—than strawberry, chocolate or vanilla yet again. –Jimmy Alvarado (Cleopatra)