Various Artists

Punk-O-Rama, Vol. 5

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There was a time when five dollars was, at many record stores, the going rate for new albums. That was back in the mid-'70s -- when Epitaph sold its Punk-O-Rama compilations for $4.99 in the '90s and early 2000s, that price was, to use Epitaph's words, "ridiculously cheap." It's called inflation; what was the going rate for new albums in 1975 was considered a "ridiculously cheap" discount rate by '90s and early 2000s standards. Of course, even $4.99 would be a rip-off if Punk-O-Rama compilations were dominated by weak or inferior material, but as a rule, they are decent. Released in 2000, Punk-O-Rama, Vol. 5 is no exception. Not everything on this 28-song CD is a masterpiece, but most of the material is decent. Like other Punk-O-Rama discs, Vol. 5 does not cater to punk purists 100 percent of the time. Most of the tracks are straight-ahead punk, but some are really alternative rock with a punk influence -- and that certainly doesn't make them bad. Death By Stereo's "Lookin' Out for #1," Vision's "Close Minded," and All's "Problematic" are pure punk, while "Refused Are Fucking Dead" by Refused illustrates punk's influence on alternative rock. Meanwhile, "Hold It Down" by Madball and "Happy" by Straight Faced are essentially alternative metal -- that is, alternative metal with a strong punk influence. Although this CD's alterna-rock and alterna-metal offerings weren't recorded with punk purists in mind, they do show how the energy and aggression of punk has had a positive affect on a variety of rock. Is Punk-O-Rama, Vol. 5 perfect? No, but it's generally enjoyable -- and at $4.99, the 73-minute disc is a bargain.

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