As Epitaph continues to dabble in hip-hop and more boyish punk, its specialty labels — the indie-rock mecca Anti-; the now-independent, blues-oriented Fat Possum; and the street-punk/ska/psychobilly label Hellcat — are tracking down some quality acts that fit their respective niches. Over the last decade or so, Hellcat has become a great source of “authentic” punk, as well as ’60s style reggae and Cramps-style rockabilly.
The Give ‘Em the Boot series began in 1997, each volume featuring twenty-five to thirty tracks and selling for about $5. This fourth installment showcases every style that Hellcat specializes in. Though generally more fist-worthy and raw than the average Punk O’ Rama compilation (put out by Epitaph about once a year), some of the best tracks on this collection are actually the ol’ ska pleasers. Tracks by the Aggrolites and Chris Murray hark back to 1960s reggae and ska. Other highlights include Joe Strummer’s live rendition of “Junco Partner,” South Central Riot Squad’s Minor Threat imitation, and “No Rest for the Weekend” by recent Hellcat addition Orange, a group of 15- and 16-year-olds whose vocalist, Joe Denman, sounds strangely like the Libertines’ Carl Barat.
Nothing stands out as a bullshit track, but Hellcat could have offered more from Lars Frederiksen and Tiger Army, because they have more interesting songs than “1%” and “Atomic,” their respective contributions. Still, if you’re one of those people who like to listen to a record in one sitting, use the Transplants’ remix of “Romper Stomper” — the fourteenth of twenty-six mostly unreleased tracks — as an opportunity to go to the bathroom. This is one well-thought-out compilation after all.