It’s not the first time a couple of artists decided to drop a split release for shits and giggles, but it’s probably the first time one to this character was done.
When I learned NOFX and Frank Turner were working on a split, I have to admit I was excited as hell because I knew both sides would try their best to emulate each other.
It’s been a long time since NOFX did a split with another band. I am sure you older punks recall the last NOFX / Rancid split that dropped some 18 years ago. This time though, it was not really a punk band covering a punk band but rather a punk band covering a punk-turned-folk-singer band.
West Coast vs. Wessex is a 10 song split released by Fat Wreck Chords featuring two of the most important acts out there. I was not sure how this was going to play out seeing how their styles are a little far-fetched, but I’m a fool for even dismissing the idea of greatness this album could be.
Leave it to Fat Mike to change up the lyrics to become a tad more personable on “Substitute”. Less proper and more pervy, the track honestly could pass as a classic NOFX song had Turner not penned it so many years back.
“Thatcher Fucked The Kids” was a two-town-jam cover that I could not imagine was even possible until I heard it. This was a great take on a killer Turner track. Full of guest vocals, the only way this could have gotten better was if El Hefe busted out some of his impersonations at the end for the hell of it.
“Glory Hallelujah” was an intense, serious cover that probably will continue to upset those who engage in worship and magic bearded man in the sky. At first I thought it was just exorbitant, but after a few listens I couldn’t agree more with how it was carried out.
Turner covering “Scavenger Type” was just brilliant. I have to admit it did not fully carry how I was anticipating it, but it worked so well. I was expecting a more folk take, but not on this track and that was fine by me.
The take on “Bob” was a perfect jaunt complete with some harmonica and just chill vibes. The rendition did not require an upbeat undertaking, but when Turner belted out at the end, I was singing along just as I did when I first heard the original in the 90s. The music video for this is pretty freaking hilarious too.
“Falling In Love” stole the split if you ask me. As far as I am concerned, NOFX traveled to the future to steal this song from Turner and tossed it on an album when Turner was just a kid. It has been a long time since I have heard an interpretation sound better than the original.
The cool thing about West Coast vs. Wessex was how well each band took an idea of covers and put absolute thought into it. Both sides took it seriously, well as much as they could, and took their time perfecting their versions of a handful of each band’s earlier material.
Some of me was hoping for more classic NOFX humor at times, perhaps even a continuation where a hilarious Minor Threat cover left off. Still, plenty of innuendos were tossed in by Fat Mike as well as a huge Fat entourage of guests.
Frank Turner fans need to hear this even if they do not take NOFX serious at all. NOFX fans will appreciate the continued creativity in taking other work’s and tossing their own style around it. This idea just worked well and it had nothing to do with luck. Fat Mike has had a few good ideas you know…
Visit the Fat Wreck Chords site to snag a copy for yourself.