Bad Religion

All Ages

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Another title for All Ages might be "The Best of Bad Religion Before Recipe for Hate." Which makes sense: Since the band's last two LPs, Recipe and Stranger Than Fiction, are owned and distributed by Atlantic, this is a great overview of the band's prior six albums for those who only got into the band since the major label got involved. Here's another good title Epitaph could have considered: "Embarrassment of Riches." Though it encompasses 23 pretty frickin' amazing, tuneful, punk/hardcore smashers, off the top of the head, one could check off dozens of others that deserved inclusion. What's here is as breathtaking as punk has gotten after 1985, thanks to Greg Graffin's insistence on clearly enunciated pop vocals, complete with soaring harmonies, and considering these as important as playing hard, fast, and mean (not to mention the lyrics that betray the sizable brains of the two writers, Graffin and guitarist Brett Gurewitz). Unhappily, there are no tracks from the 1985 Back to the Known EP, there are only two from the 1982 debut, How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, and of course, asking for any selections from the band-disowned 1983 second LP, Into the Unknown, is like asking Scrooge for a sick-day. Nevertheless, the net result is that All Ages is more or less Bad Religion from Suffer (1988) through Generator (1992), but that's when the band first peaked anyway, with material so incredible it would seem like justice if everyone who bought a Green Day or Offspring LP the previous year (decent as those LPs are) were forced to return them for this older, wiser, tons-better best-of.

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