With unabashedly contagious melodies, Reggie and the Full Effect’s reissue of their ironically titled debut, Greatest Hits ’84-‘87 contains the usual suspects — harebrained love songs spewing forth over-the-top ‘80s-style synthesizers, hyperactive drum-machine beats, delightfully boyish crooning. The side project/alter-ego/brainchild of Get Up Kids keyboardist James DeWees, Reggie tunes like “Girl, Why’d You Run Away,” “Megan Is My Friend to the Max,” “Your Boyfriend Hates Me,” and “Another Runaway Song” are quirky sing-alongs loaded with Weezer-worthy hooks and utterly absurd lyrics: “We’ll beat your boss up and say ‘Hey, fat guy, get the fuck out of my house’/ Now you go out with all your friends/ And you’ll hang out at the mall/ We’ll go play pinball/ And hopefully you’ll let me drive your car.”
Not all of Reggie’s songs are gooey, prepubescent punk-pop songs about the girl who got away (or “ran away,” as reiterated throughout the record). Interspersed are snippets of a hapless drunkard (“Drunk Guy Talks Chemicals to Us at Get Up Kids Show”) and comedic skits that poke fun at pop icons (“Pick Up the Phone Master P,” “Fiona Apple Can Kiss My Black Ass,” “Props to the Queen of Pop A.K.A. Keep on Climbin’ that Velvet Rope Baby”).
Greatest Hits was originally released in 1999 on Second Nature, and in addition to the eighteen tracks that comprised that release, the reissue contains seven previously unreleased or unavailable songs, including the “Lord of the Bling Trilogy.” “The Fellowship of the Bling” is a heavy metal-tinged number that features the throat-shredding snarls of Sean Ingram (credited as “Hungary Bear”), who was the singer of revered hardcore outfit (and DeWees’s former band) Coalesce. “Only with Me” and “Everyone Is Crazy” are mid-tempo synth-pop ditties not entirely unlike the rest of Greatest Hits, and “Your Girlfriends Hate Me (Free Moustache Rides Remix)” is actually a more frenetic, dance-beat version of the original. Meanwhile, “The Return of the Bling” is a slow-paced ballad with haunting vocals and pretty piano melodies; though it’s the biggest departure from Reggie’s usual sound, it’s just as rousing as any of the typically upbeat arrangements.
But the true gem is the keyboard-laden cover of Slayer’s “Raining Blood.” Relentlessly requested at Reggie’s live shows (or even at Get Up Kids shows), DeWees’s rendition of the popular metal song can now be heard in the privacy of your home. Metal covers aside, the tunes on Greatest Hits have staying power: Reggie’s two other efforts (2000’s Promotional Copy and 2003’s Under the Tray) and his growing fan base can attest to that. DeWees’s propulsive synth-pop and uncanny wit is sweetly unapologetic. Indie-rock snobs who say his musical creation shouldn’t be taken seriously should lighten up and indulge in a good, whole-hearted chuckle.