Anthrax – The Greater of Two Evils
It’s a little slow going for me today. I’m still a little sore and tired from working the Sunn O))) show last night, one of the strangest and loudest shows I ever worked in my life. But this isn’t a Sunn O))) review, it’s an Anthrax review, so let’s talk about them.
So, today’s CD is Anthrax’s 2004 compilation disc ‘The Greater of Two Evil’s’ which is essentially a “live” in the studio record of the 2004 line up of the band performing songs from the Neil Turbin and Joey Belladonna era of the band. Fans voted on the band’s website which songs they would cover, once the score was tallied up, the band went into the studio and recorded the record in two days. The result being a fresh take on many of the classic songs.
I first heard this CD not too long after it came out, perhaps six months after its release. After seeing the band in 2003 and being impressed with Jon Bush’s take on the classic tunes I was interested in checking it out. I must say I was not disappointed. In fact, for quite a while this was my favorite Anthrax CD. I loved Jon Bush’s voice on these classic tunes, I liked the raw production of the album, and the track list reminded me of how much I really loved these older songs. I never thought about until now, but I’d say this CD was the catalyst that led to me going back and buying every Anthrax record I grew up with and buying pretty much everything they put out after that. Except for ‘Attack of The Killer B’s’, every Anthrax CD covered in this series I bought or re-bought after I fell in love with this CD.
But if I’m to be perfectly honest here, prior to this series I don’t think I’ve listened to this CD in at least 7 or 8 years. Once I started buying up all the original album again, my interest in this album faded. Why listen to greatest hits collection of a handful of songs from each album, when you can listen to the entire original album? At least that’s how my brain works. That’s not to say I’m not totally loving listening to this CD as I write this, but at the same time, it’s sort of making me want to hear the proper version of the songs. Right now, the song ‘Among the Living’ is playing, and I must admit I want to hear Joey’s voice more than Jon’s.
Which is kind of interesting saying for over a decade I have insisted that Josh Bush’s was the better vocalist and his version of these songs are better than the originals? But now I’m not sure if I still feel that way. Maybe it’s because when I bought this CD I was more open to the idea of the reinterpretations of these classic tunes. But have since gone back and have been reacquainted with the originals and these new versions don’t feel quite the same to me anymore.
Or perhaps it’s simply how much I like the original albums. Songs from ‘Spreading the Disease’ and ‘Among the Living’ don’t sound quite right to me. But those are my favorite two albums that I have listened to more than any other Anthrax records. Right now, ‘Keep it the Family’ from ‘Persistence of Time’, a record I never cared for, and I’m finding I like this version much better than the original. The same goes for the songs from ‘Fistful of Metal’ and ‘State of Euphoria’, I like these versions a little bit more. Since starting this series I have had the song ‘Belly of the Beast’ occasionally running through my head, and though I have listened to Belladonna’s versions more than Bush’s, it’s Jon Bush’s voice I hear in my head. What’s any of this mean? Who knows?
‘The Greater of Two Evils’ would be the last record with Jon Bush on lead vocals. Within a year, the band would reunite with Joey Belladonna and Dan Spitz for a tour. Sparking a bit of turmoil within the band. For the next four or five years, they would bounce back and forth between Belladonna and Bush, and even have a completely new guy step in for a while, before finally landing on Joey Belladonna. That story in and of itself is rather interesting, which we’ll save for tomorrow.
So, to wrap this up, I personally love this CD and had been known to try and make anyone who would listen to me check it out. But I understand why somebody who is a fan of the classic line might not care for or even be interested in hearing it. The original records were nearly perfect, to begin with, why bother with re-recording them? In the past, I would have been willing to defend this record more, and insist that these versions are better. But now I’d just say that they’re simply different, and worth checking out at least once, but I wouldn’t spend too much energy on trying to sell it like I would have 10 years ago. Take that for whatever it’s worth.