Album Review: Nimrod XXV – Green Day
Release Date: January 27th, 2023
Green Day’s fifth album Nimrod marked a turning point for the Oakland trio. Whereas Insomniac was them lashing out at their rapid rise to fame off the back of Dookie and the subsequent exile from the punk rock circles where they got their start, Nimrod saw them ready to move forward lyrically and sonically. The band dabbled in surf rock, hardcore, folk, and ska to create their most diverse record. The lyrics touched on mature themes of fatherhood, getting older, and personal reflection. The new direction was a huge risk, but it paid off. The album is still considered one of their best and remains a favorite among fans today.
Green Day’s new box set Nimrod XXV celebrates this seminal album with a slew of unreleased material including a live performance and unreleased demos along with some extra goodies. The 3-disc/5-LP collection feels like a reward for fans. Housed in a neat little box it’s filled with enough music and goodies to warrant fans buying the album for the third or fourth time or fifth time. This is what the 20th-anniversary reissue should’ve been.
The unreleased demos offer a rare glimpse at the album Nimrod would become. While songs like “The Grouch” and “Walking Alone” are pretty close to their final versions, others are in the early stages of development. Lyrics for “Nice Guys Finish Last,” “Desensitized,” and “Reject” are either all other the place or unfinished. The idea is there, but clearly needs more time to marinate. The real treat of this disc are the songs that never made the final cut. “Black Eyeliner” is an amalgamation of several Green Day songs, like “Church On Sunday” that would be released on later albums, “Alison” is an Elvis Costello cover that sounds strangely similar to Weezer, “Place Inside My Head” has Mike Dirnt taking over vocals, and “Tre Polka” is exactly what it sounds like – a silly outtake from the wildcard drummer. There’s enough “new” material here to make it a worthwhile listen just to hear how the songs evolved over recording sessions.
The highlight of the collection is Live at the Electric Factory. Recorded at the Philadelphia venue on November 14th, 1997, it perfectly captures this era of Green Day. This isn’t the band known for playing massive arenas and releasing groundbreaking rock operas. This is the band with a chip on their shoulder. They’re snotty, bratty, and aren’t afraid to be rude to the audience. This is raw Green Day. No lengthy interludes, no cries of “HEY OH” from Billie Joe Armstrong every 30 seconds. Just tight-knit Green Day delivering a hellish, punchy set filled with plenty of hilarious stage banter. Highlights include Billie Joe singing the opening lines of “The Beautiful People,” teasing the crowd with “Master of Puppets,” and him discussing whether or not he’ll get naked on stage.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the live band Green Day has become. Billie Joe is an electric showman. His energy radiates across the stage. No matter how many times he screams “HEY OH,” you’ll happily scream it back on his command. But hearing this no-frills version of Green Day is refreshing. It focuses more on the music rather than the live spectacle. And if you’ve criticized the band in the past for their static setlist, then this performance is a treat. “F.O.D.,” “Scattered,” “Prosthetic Head,” and “Geek Stink Breath.” Be still my beating heart! Unfortunately, they also play “Knowledge,” which includes their shtick of pulling someone random from the crowd to play guitar. Look, it’s cool in the moment, but listening to it is just tiring. Otherwise, it’s a stellar performance that makes you question why it took 25 years for it to be released.
For such a well-crafted box set, the booklet is disappointing. This would’ve been a golden opportunity for the band to recount stories from the recording studio and give insight into songs and demos. Instead, it’s filled with promo photos, some artwork, and stylistically printed lyrics. Some are printed backward, some are layered over other lyrics, and some are too distorted for fans to decipher. It looks cool but is underwhelming compared to the rest of the collection.
Whether you’re a Nimrod die-hard or just an avid collector, you can’t go wrong with this set. It’s worth it for the live album alone. Bonuses like the patch, poster, and slipmat are a nice touch. This is what the Insomniac reissue should’ve been. Hopefully, we’ll get more jam-packed anniversary box sets in the future (*cough cough* Warning *cough cough*).