This is the first album from this band that I've ever bought, so I can't say how good a compilation this is, apart from the fact that it contains two songs you would expect to see on any decent compilation..."I'm stranded" and "Know your product".
The latter song in particular is my pick as possibly the best punk song of all time. Having heard this song, and "I'm stranded" in the past, especially on music video shows, I had my doubts about how punk this band was but listening to this album, those doubts disappeared. Most of the songs here have the classic punk sound...a ringing guitar attack. The lead singer sort of sounds like Mick Jagger with an Australian accent and punk attitude...a bit harder to understand too.
I have heard something along the lines that The Saints were the first band to release a record...beating The Sex Pistols to the punch, apparently. "I'm stranded" often gets cited as a seminal punk song and one of the greatest punk songs of all time. This song doesn't have the same impact on me as "Know your product". From my limited familiarity with punk, this song, along with The Sex Pistols' "God save the Queen" and "Anarchy in the UK" must vie for the honour of being the greatest punk song of all time.
"Know your product" is a highly polished, high energy attack on advertising. It's quite witty too: "It's recommended, used by the Queen" [many products bear the Royal seal of approval]. What's so appealing about the song is the very catchy brassy riff that plays throughout the song...it's right up there with Midnight Oil's "Power and the passion" and James Brown's "Sweet soul music" for great brassy riffs.
As for the rest of the songs, many have an element of melody, which is appealing, along with the standard, classic punk sounding songs. Oddly, the band does a cover of the 50's pop song [I think] "Lipstick on your collar"...a song which has featured in laundry detergent adds here. The melody in that reminds me of another song from that era "Diana"...so, I'm not sure if that because the originals share that melody in common, or if The Saints have taken liberties with the song.
Another interesting thing is that the song "Kissin' cousins" has a riff which is very similar to the latter song by George Thoroughgood "You talk to much". So, maybe there is some influence on latter acts by The Saints. Perhaps the same can be said for "The story of love" which sort of reminds me of material done later by Nirvana. The Saints themselves seem to show influences in some of their songs, e.g. Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on heaven's door" seems to be referenced in "Messin' with the kid" [as does Dylanesque vocals] though it does have its own cool riff going for it. Nice bass work in it, and it features accoustic guitar too.
Perhaps "Private affair" can be seen as complimentary to "Know your product". It covers similar themes, lyrically. It's also noticeable for having a similar opening riff to the classic The Kinks' song "You really got me".
"Nights in Venice" has a really cool guitar effect...it sounds like a motorbike idling and revving [and in the middle of the song, I'm reminded of The Doors' Jim Morrison]. Another song with cool guitar effects is "Do the robot" which features a guitar which sounds like a mosquito in the outro.
Although the band doesn't have other songs in the same league as "Know your product", I do like their less punk sounding, slower, melodic songs. E.g. "Swing for the crime", which also features brass instruments.
In fact, it's the diverse arrangements which are a plus for this compilation. "No time" has a strong bass riff and cool piano playing later on. "Run down" features harmonica.
Other songs I like include "Wild about you" and "Memories are made of this". Songs like these and others feature accoustic guitar too.
All in all, a good album to introduce yourself to the band which made one of the greatest punk songs in history, in my opinion..."Know your product".
P.S. last night [18/08/07] on SBS TV here in Australia, The Saints' debut album "I'm Stranded" was featured on the new series "Classic Australian albums". The lead singer said of the title track, I think, that the guitar riff was basically a reworking of an Eddie Cochrane riff [the famous American rock'n'roll star of the 1950's, I think]. He also mentions that the guitar riff to their song "Nights in Venice" is "strikingly similar" to Led Zeppelin's "Communication breakdown". Hearing parts of some songs from this album, they struck me as quite catchy...but I can't remember if these songs were included on this compilation...could be worth revisiting this alum some time later to check out this aspect.
N.B. Just noticed-this compilation does not have "Just like fire would", which is a fine song which has grown on me. Not really punk, but has a catchy guitar part for it.
*** Other Australian cds I've reviewed at this site:
Skyhooks: The collection
INXS: "Kick" and "Listen like thieves" and "Anthology"
Midnight Oil: "10,...,1" and "Diesel and dust" and others.
John Farnham: The great Australian songbook
Johnny O'Keefe: Birth of Australian rock'n'roll
Alex Lloyd: Amazing-The best of
The Vines: Highly Evolved
Rogue Traders: Here comes the drums