Intended to help defray the legal costs of Hilly Kristal's sadly unsuccessful efforts to keep America's first and greatest punk dive CBGB alive on New York's Bowery, CBGB Forever is a collection of 14 punk tunes from bands both new and old. Or at least that seems to be the idea, but it's an open question if Velvet Revolver or Audioslave have ever had much to do with punk rock, and while Good Charlotte at least dress the part, putting them on the same disc with the Ramones and the Dead Boys only points out how far they stray from the musical ideal. While a handful of CBGB veterans are on board (Ramones, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, Blondie and the Dead Boys), there are also a few bands paying tribute to their punk forefathers, and though Foo Fighters deliver a surprisingly delightful version of "Danny Says," it's hard to say what U2 were thinking when they recorded "Beat on the Brat" (and who would ever guess you'd have proof that Joey Ramone could outsing Bono?). And while you won't doubt for a second that Green Day and Rancid were down for the cause, they sound slightly out of place compared to the older folks. CBGB Forever is well intentioned as all get out, but it's also kind of a mess, though it's hard not to love any disc that has the Ramones' "Bonzo Goes to Bitberg," the Damned's "New Rose" and the Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer" on it (or fine liner notes from the eternally cool Lenny Kaye).
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming