Green Day has never lacked ambition, but even for them, releasing three albums within the span of a few months in 2012 was rather impressive. Unfortunately, Billie Joe Armstrong's September onstage outburst somewhat overshadowed the promotional cycle for ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and Tré! That's a shame, since the album trilogy has some of Green Day's best, most effortless work. Need proof? Here's a 14-song, 45-minute version of the triptych that's all killer, no filler.
The Replacements-esque "X-Kid" is one of Green Day's finest songs, a melancholy midtempo rocker written after one of Billie Joe Armstrong's friends took their own life. “I don’t really want to get into it,” he told Guitar World. “It’s too heavy.”
'Nuclear Family'From '¡Uno!'
Nominally about the collapse of a support system, "Nuclear Family" has a hot-rodding, rockabilly-tinged edge that feels like a more sophisticated take on Dookie's vibrant punk.
'Let Yourself Go'From '¡Uno!'
This gleefully NSFW song (seriously, don't blast this tune at work without earbuds) is one giant middle finger to jerks and those with "small minds" who aren't on Green Day's side. Also notable for its killer, flypaper-sticky hook.
A song full of digs at the snobby elite, "Troublemaker" employs influences from surf-rock (dig the falsetto vocals and kicky tempos) and the late '70s (power-pop-inspired handclaps and riffage).
Musically, "Sweet 16" is a dead ringer for the Jam's muscular mod-rock days; lyrically, it's a sweet love song Armstrong wrote for his wife, Adrienne, on the occasion of their 16th anniversary. “‘Sweet 16’ is about being in a relationship for a really long time,” Armstrong told Guitar World. “The first verse is about my relationship with Adrienne when we first met. And the second verse is more about our relationship now. And just how time passes and just kinda, ‘Wow, we’re still here and still together.’”
Green Day has never shied away from raunch – and this swaggering rock 'n' roll tune espousing the joys of carnal pleasures certainly fits the bill. “That was originally going to be a Foxboro Hot Tubs song,” Armstrong told Guitar World. “But we liked it so much that we said, ‘Why waste it?’ It’s just a big, fun, stupid song. It doesn’t imply anything; it comes out and says it. A lot of old rock and roll songs like Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” or some of Elvis [Presley]'s old songs imply sex. Or just the term 'rock and roll': rockin’ and rollin’ – well, that means f---ing. So, why not say it? Just go there.”
'Stray Heart'From '¡Dos!'
If you dug the Strokes circa Is This It, this bouncy, strummy song will float your boat. Throw in contrite lyrics about someone who's cheated trying to get back in the good graces of their beloved, and "Stray Heart" is a winner.
This sobering song about a relationship ruined by self-destruction and drug use is a deceptively upbeat, spiky post-punk surge.
This White Stripes-reminiscent rave-up references a real-life musician, Lady Cobra of Mystic Knights of the Cobra, and her bewitching ways.
'Wow! That's Loud'From '¡Dos!'
Consider this tune a heavy-metal Beatles: The "Paperback Writer"-inspired swing and pacing make room for surreal lyrics about a sci-fi siren "wearing a psychotic red alert/Your bouquet of flowers in the dirt."
An ode and tribute to the late Amy Winehouse, "Amy" is a delicate, '50s rock-inspired ballad. “Her death was a big loss," Armstrong told The Sun. "I didn’t know her but I was a fan of her music. She brought the old soul and first wave of ska into a modern era. She
was an unbelievable talent, so the song kind of wrote itself.”
'8th Avenue Serenade'From '¡Tré!'
A short-and-sweet, nostalgic rock 'n' roll song that's cautiously optimistic about a romance being consummated.
'Sex, Drugs and Violence'From '¡Tré!'
Another tune influenced by the Jam's jawing mod-punk, "Sex, Drugs and Violence" is about coming to terms with adulthood when you've taken a more unorthodox path to quasi-maturity: "I took a wrong turn at growing up and it's freaking me out."
'99 Revolutions'From '¡Tré!'
A riotous, Clash-like protest song meant to be a call to arms for rattling the status quo: "There's a rat in the company/A bail out on easy street/How the f--- did the working stiff/Become so obsolete?