photo & text by nacrowe
i believe it is fair to say that WARNING (REPRISE, 2000) is the forgotten GREEN DAY album. some critics over the years have disparaging claimed it to be a product of frontman BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG's self-indulgent "fat ELVIS" period. no doubt it has the misfortune of being the lead-in record to what many consider their best record, AMERICAN IDIOT (although some claim DOOKIE), and the overall renaissance of their cultural status as POP PUNK icons.
i dont see it that way.
when i listen back to tracks off WARNING like "MINORITY," "WAITING," "MACY'S DAY PARADE," "MISERY" and "WARNING," what some hear as a lack of energy and bombast i hear as a detour into the song-craft and subtle thoughtfully crafted sonic dynamics at play with BRITISH INVASION bands like THE KINKS and THE WHO. there is a storytelling quality and a solid penchant for CHARACTER STUDIES that come into play on this record that would bear fruit with the follow-up and its multi-song NARRATIVE ARC. such a detour into essentially creating modern FOLK NARRATIVES puts ARMSTRONG in keeping with a decidedly BRITISH tradition exemplified by the likes RAY DAVIES and PETE TOWNSEND. i think ARMSTRONG's fascination with the earlier work of those two songwriters helps make the connection between WARNING and AMERICAN IDIOT, as the later record is definitely in keeping with THE KINKS PRESENT A SOAP OPERA (RCA, 1975) or TOMMY (DECCA, 1969). basically i see the two as a pair, in essence two efforts at translating disparate elements like POWER POP and BRITISH INVASION-era song-craft into a modern POP PUNK format.
and to an extent it worked. it is just in comparison to the explosive bombast of AMERICAN IDIOT and its astute political conceit at a time when bands, PUNK or not, were largely cowering in the age of GEORGE W BUSH and the paranoia of a post-9/11 AMERICA. WARNING is very much a product of a band searching for a means of maturing into ADULTHOOD, and represents one attempt at such. ultimately they double-down on the more anthemic elements of their sound, but this more laid-back, self-assessing, INTROSPECTIVE record should not be discounted. its definitely worth revisiting and checking out agin.