Next we're gonna go to Green Day's 2004 album American Idiot: one of my all-time favorite albums from one of my favorite bands.
A staple of any pop-punk fan's collection, American Idiot is one of Green Day's most successful albums to this date, only behind their breakout third album Dookie released in 1994. Some of their most recognizable material come from this one album: "American Idiot," "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "Holiday," "Wake Me Up When September Ends" to name a few. This album also contains the band's 2 longest songs "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Homecoming," both clocking in around 9 minutes each.
The year 2000 saw the release of Green Day's sixth studio Album Warning, which ended up being a commercial disappointment despite the relatively positive reviews. In 2002, the band began recording songs for their upcoming album Cigarettes and Valentines. However, after writing about 20 songs, the demo master tapes were stolen from their studio in November. Reflecting on what they wrote and determining that it wasn't their best work, they moved on and spent the next 3 months writing what would become American Idiot, a 58 minute rock opera following the journey of St. Jimmy through themes of dysfunctional America.
With the circumstances of this album holding a special place in my heart, naturally this vinyl had to be special as well. In April 2013, retail chain Hot Topic announced they were releasing a limited edition Red/Black swirl pressing of American Idiot, limited to only 800 manufactured. To say I was excited for this release would definitely have been an understatement. This was my first contemporary vinyl purchase (my small at the time collection consisted of pre-owned records from record stores) and my first colored vinyl! When it arrived in the mail, I'm pretty sure I dropped what I was doing and immediately went to my turntable.
Released as a double LP (meaning there are 2 discs), the record jacked opens up as a gatefold to a picture of frontman Billie Joe Armstrong at a fence, fingers tattooed with "Rage" and "Love" (a lyric reference to "Jesus of Suburbia"). I love the subtle detail of each record label bearing a picture of his hands. I could geek out on about how most of the songs on this album flow into one another and how great they are compositionally, but I'll spare you the details. Picking a favorite song would be impossible, but ones that stand out to me are the lesser known 9 minute epic "Homecoming" and closer "Whatshername."
Last but not least I need to mention the lyrics sheet...or should I say lyrics poster. This glossy paper placed in one of the gatefolds folds out into a 24" x 24" poster with all the lyrics, each song stylized to fit the song and overarching theme of the album. My favorite Easter egg in this poster relates to the original CD release of the album. In the jewel case, the lyrics booklet contained small stylistic "edits" and some of those were "fixed" in the poster release! The example I gave is from the opener "American Idiot." On the top left corner of the above picture are the lyrics to that track (it's a little hard to see, but you can see defined breaks in the lyrics to form pseudo paragraphs). 2 pictures below this text is the booklet from the CD release, and you can see arrows drawn in where breaks are meant to be placed.
As I mentioned before, this album is very meaningful to me and this vinyl is even more so. If you haven't heard this album yet, you should definitely give it a listen, front to back. You might even recognize a few songs.