The Ziggens

Greatest Zits: 1990-2003

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In many cases, best-of collections reflect the label's tastes rather than the artist's; the record company picks and chooses the songs, and the artist has little or no say in the matter (especially if he/she has moved on to another label -- in that case, the artist probably won't be consulted at all). But when the artist does have a chance to shape the contents of a best-of package, it's always interesting to see what he/she thinks is important. Greatest Zits: 1990-2003, for example, really does reflect the tastes of the Ziggens, who picked all of the material themselves. Spanning 13 years, this two-CD set paints a likable picture of the Southern Californians, who are known for their nutty, goofy way of blending punk and surf rock (sometimes with a strong country influence). The material on Greatest Zits (as opposed to Greatest Hits) is divided into two categories; disc one contains what the Ziggens consider their most essential work, while disc two is a "bonus surf CD." Not that disc one isn't extremely surf-minded; it's just that disc two (which is full of instrumentals) focuses on recordings that are worthwhile but not quite as essential. Both discs, however, easily capture the band's wacky outlook. The Ziggens always identified with punk's more lighthearted side -- that is, the Ramones and the Dickies instead of the Sex Pistols, the Germs, Fear, or Black Flag -- and they've never had a problem finding the parallels between punk and surf. Greatest Zits underscores the fact that, at times, the Ziggens can be a little too self-indulgent; even so, this double-CD is a lot of fun -- and it's the logical place to go if one is exploring their '90s and early-2000s output for the first time.

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