Perhaps Radical Records received too many complaints after their last Oi!/Skampilation compilation -- too few groups, not enough Oi! -- who knows? In any case, a dramatic change is notable on Vol. 3, which is stuffed to the brim with bands, 20 in all, with the numbers evenly split between reggae and punk. Well, that may redress the balance, but unfortunately it also highlights the many less than stellar bands that participated in the label's 1997 festival. The Dropkick Murphys aren't among the subpar lot, however -- these Beantown heroes are swiftly building a national reputation, and their two melodic, anthemic hardcore tracks here give ample reason why. The Ducky Boys also have a large following, and their storming old-school Oi! sound shines on "Pride." The Trouble are old-school hardcore and the Unseen furiously so in a more trad punk rock style, while Dis Con add even more rage to the proceedings and Squiggy douse it down in rockabilly. As for the rest, their cookie-cutter approach to hardcore can get a bit wearing, with speed seemingly their only objective, a race that reaches its nadir with the sloppy-to-the-extreme Pinkos. The Average Suburbanites are somewhat tighter, and at least mix it up by having a frontman who sounds like Pete Shelley. Sadly, many of the skankers are equally devoid of inspiration, and just as driven to deliver their songs at hyperspeed at the expense of the music itself. A few have no more to offer but frenzied reggae guitar. Big Lick, however, actually have a catchy song, although it's virtually lost under the band's frenetic delivery. Inspecter 7, who have now appeared on all three comps, stand tall here, a great band that just keeps getting better. The chunky Pilfers, all thumping beats, blasting sax, and a Waterhouse-styled frontman, are also standouts, and when they're joined later in the set by the Kingpins, the two bands just about bring down the house. Left to their own devices, the Kingpins are 2-Tone-fired but feel no need to pick up the pace, all the better to showcase their splendid harmonies. In total contrast come Eastern Standard Time, an extremely tight unit offering up tight trad ska overflowing with jazzy solos from both the brass and a phenomenally talented pianist. So, there are some truly inspirational moments within this set, delivered by a handful of exceptional bands on both sides of the musical divide, but they're offset by a more than healthy heaping of dross. After two excellent sets, fans eagerly awaited the third. Sadly, most will be disappointed by its arrival.
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene