Anti-Flag, “Complete Control Sessions” 10-inch

Complete Control Sessions
(SideOne Dummy)

It’s official – Anti-Flag has used up whatever goodwill they once might’ve had. My 18 year-old self thought they were the bee’s knees, circa Die For Your Government and A New Kind of Army. I still have a hoodie in my closet with not one, but two A-F patches on them, including the ever-so-slightly shame-inducing “FUCK YOUR POLITICS” scrawled on it with black Sharpie.

That being said, the band was able to knock out quality punk rock ‘n’ roll back in the day. Somebody once referred to their brand of punk as “bumper sticker politics,” and I think that’s been fairly apt all along, but my ability to stomach their sloganeering because of their quality riffage has been undermined. The catchy shout-alongs have been replaced by what sounds like Noam Chomsky passages recited over recycled rejects from the Casualties.

There’s nothing new here. I say that not only because of the three Clash covers (“Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” twice, for some reason), but because they played “Turncoat,” which is essentialyl an anti-Bush song. Considering the vast back catalog they have at their disposal, and the numerous songs they could’ve played that don’t sound dated (“Tearing Everyone Down,” “You’d Do the Same,” et al), it just seems like a waste of limited space, to say nothing of repeating a song.

And, fuck – if you’re going to cover a bunch of Clash songs for an entry in the Complete Control Sessions, play “Complete Control,” for God’s sake. “I Fought the Law” is a cover of a cover. It wasn’t even a goddamn Clash song. All in all, this just seems like a wasted opportunity and a cash grab. It’s kind of like the Bouncing Souls’ Live at Generation Records LP that came out for Record Stor Day: a live recording, that despite not being very good at all, and more like a bootleg, still gets pressed on limited colors and sold at a premium price because people will buy it.

Stream “White Riot” and “The Economy Is Suffering” via AMP Magazine.