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It's Not Over

I've talked about face to face at great length before (some posts are here and here), but I want to talk about them again today. Last week saw the release of Shoot the Moon: the Essential Collection on DVD. Two discs filled with a documentary on the band, (most of) their videos and their final live show in 2004. Though I will always hold this band close to my heart, this felt like a great way of putting the band to rest. I don't mean that in a morbid way, but a nice capping off.

face to face was a band that was very well-known in their day. The wild popularity of Green Day and the Offspring in 1994 turned a lot of people (especially suburban teenagers like myself) onto what all else was out there in the pop-punk world. I was introduced to face to face via a segment on the band on MTV's The Week in Rock. Covering the band's recent matinee show at CBGB's, the interview sold me on them. At a time when pop-punk was all about being bratty and juvenile, the guys in face to face were mature about how they treated their fans and their music. Sure, they could have morphed their music into something goofy for all "the kids" but being what they were made them a special cut above the rest.

Right off the bat in the Punk Rock Eats Its Own documentary on the first disc, Trever Keith and Matt Riddle describe their attraction to melodic punk rock. Realizing that Iron Maiden's songs about Icarus and pyramids weren't based on everyday life, they found reality in stuff like the Descendents and Bad Religion. That's what they put into their music from day one as face to face.

The documentary is suprisingly thorough even at 70 minutes. Covering the band's growth in popularity, the various labels they dealt with and the line-up changes in frank detail, this is what I wish every band would do with documentaries on them. There's no ugly bad-mouthing between band members nor is there a lot of piss-taking hindsight (ie, "We were young and stupid"), so this didn't feel like a trashy episode of Behind the Music. Instead, this was a well-rounded view of the band, faults and all.

One part that I was really happy to see coverage on was the band's loved/reviled fourth album, Ignorance is Bliss. Darker and moodier compared to their earlier material, I've always loved that album. However, when I saw the band debut a number of its songs to an Austin audience one summer, people were thrown for a loop. As great as the songs are, mixing them with their other material just seemed weird. I don't blame the band for trying something different and I was happy to see the band not apologize for it in the documentary.

A brief, but cool feature is the commentary track on the band's videos. Their video for "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man" is not included, but all of the other ones are plus an unreleased alternate version of "I Won't Lie Down." Most of the band members are present for the whole track along with manager/friend/fan Rich Egan. I don't know about you, but I thought it was cool to hear stuff like Matt Riddle's comments on the band's material following his departure. I realize that a lot of amends have been between them made even though they have moved on with their lives.

The second disc is comprised of The Only Goodbye, the band's final show. As someone who was lucky to see the band play live three times, this is a really amazing show to have captured on DVD. Though some of the Reactionary material isn't as powerful as a trio, the rest of the material is as good as when they were a four-piece. Choice cuts from Don't Turn Away, Big Choice, face to face and How to Ruin Everything are pulled off in ways that slightly differ from their album versions, but in good ways. At 76 minutes in length, I definitely get my fill.

Yes, it would have been nice to hear more stories with dirt in the documentary. Yes, it would have been nice if the First Seven Years documentary was included. Yes, it would have been nice if Rob Kurth could have been interviewed somewhere other than a trade show. But as a face to face fan, the Shoot the Moon collection covers enough to go beyond just simple satisfaction. The records are the jewels themselves, but most are out of print. I believe Trever's Antagonist Records is reissuing them sometime in the near future. This is definitely a band to check out if you've come to know pop-punk only as sophomoric, bouncy music that your teenage sibling/child wants to mosh to. They might change your life just like they did with mine.


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