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Tankard have had a pretty strong relationship with their latest label AFM since signing with them for the B-Day album and beyond, and this has reflected in the quality of the material, which in general has notably improved beyond the band's later Noise Records period or their brief stint with Century Media. So, when it arrived time to once again unleash a compilation of previously issued material, the band and label had the wise idea to re-record some earlier tracks with the current 4-piece line-up instead of just aping them directly from their original sources, as with the awful waste of space Hair of the Dog, Tankard's earlier compilation on Noise.
I rarely, rarely ever find these re-recording albums worth much, since I'm usually a sucker for the original versions, but at the least you get the feeling you have been offered something new, and since so many other bands have gone through this process, including a number of thrashers (Testament, Destruction, Exodus, etc.), then why not Germany's drunkest legends? The quality of the translation really varies, with some clearly lacking the exact spark that made the originals so special, and others actually improved a notch.
The Zombie Attack remakes I could certainly have lived without. Here they've done "Zombie Attack", "Maniac Forces" and "(Empty) Tankard", all long standing staples of the band's sets and arguably the more 'important' tracks from that album, though I consider that entire album a bloody perfect good time. The guitar tones here are pretty boxy, and I just don't like Gerre's vocals as much as I once did. "(Empty)" Tankard" probably survives the remake process the best of the three. Chemical Invasion gets two spots on the compilation: "Don't Panic" and "Chemical Invasion". Once again, they're not as ripcord wild as the originals, but I think these two come across pretty well in their newer incarnations.
The Morning After is sadly under represented, with only the title track. Once again...no "Commandments"? No "Shit-faced"? These are some of the band's best songs, and the remainder of that albums is likewise perfect. "The Morning After" itself sounds a little gimped, and I will attempt to forget the obvious omissions and move along. Tankard wisely included "Alien" and "666 Packs" from the Alien EP, which many people might not own, so this could be their first exposure, and of these, "666 Packs" actually sounds decent through its update. The Meaning of Life material actually sounds good here, I prefer the simple crunch of the tunes to their more hissing originals, and you've got both "Beermuda" and "Space Beer" to digest. The live "Medley" of "Alcohol", "Puke", "Mon Cheri" and "Wonderful Life" (from various early albums) that originally appeared on Fat, Ugly and Live is given a studio treatment, which is a slight surprise, but these songs are all better in their separate incarnations.
After this, the pickings a little more sparse. "Freibier" is the only track from Stone Cold Sober, but it sounds pretty good here, and Two-Faced gets a double play in "Nation Over Nation" and the title track, which don't sound noticeably superior to my ears than their original versions, but certainly do not depress. The compilation is rounded off with "Minds on the Moon", one of the better songs from the inconsistent album The Tankard, and that also sounds quite good with its new layer of paint. So 1995 was understandably the cut-off date for this project's material.
If you were lucky, and got the limited edition of this compilation, you were probably also treated to a bonus Tribute to Tankard compilation with 18 tracks, several of which come from underground thrash upstarts like Hyades. Far more interesting, however, were the covers provided by fellow Germans Paradox, Paragon, and Sacred Steel, who all did a decent job with the material, and Denmark's power/progressive band Manticora who seem almost out of place. Having this added disc certainly ups the value of Best Case Scenario, so if you're one of the Chosen ones, bolster my review score by about 15% (1.5 points).
Otherwise, there is not a lot of cement value to this release unless you've been with the band and really want to celebrate. A number of the songs do sound comparable or superior to the originals, but this is not so for the majority of the play list, in particular the first half. I would much rather remember the original, ripping versions of these tracks when they sounded pretty damn heavy. The cleanliness and modern punch do not always do them justice. But unlike Hair of the Dog, it's at least not a total clusterfuck if you drop some bread on it.
So, what can be said about Tankardâ€™s latest compilation featuring the best tracks of 25 years of beer drinking mosh fun? Well, as a start, instead of dumping the various tracks on one album and leaving it that way, they decided to rerecord all their favourite tracks. Most tracks benefit of this, some remain equally good, and a few other tracks might not appeal that much anymore due to the heavy production which is pretty much the same as on their â€œThe Beauty and the Beerâ€ album to give you an idea. The compilation focuses on the older tracks (all albums up to The Tankard to be exact), where most of tankard's thrash gems can be found.
The compilation starts with â€œZombie Attackâ€, â€œManiac Forcesâ€ and â€œ(Empty) Tankardâ€. These tracks of their poorly produced first album â€œZombie Attackâ€ were most in need of a rerecord, and the better production only does well to the first two. The tankard anthem â€œ(Empty) Tankardâ€ on the other hand is a bit of a doubter. For those who didn't like the poorly produced original version and also hated the production on the â€œAlienâ€ EP this might be a better studio version of the track. The live version found on â€œFat, Ugly and Liveâ€ still kicks this one's ass though which makes me wonder why, Tankard being a kickass band to experience live, this compilation has no live tracks, not even as an extra, on it. Other tracks that benefit the new sound are the two tracks from the â€œAlienâ€ EP: â€œ666 Packsâ€ and â€œAlienâ€. I don't know about other people, but I really hated the soft production on that EP, so I'm more than happy that these otherwise superb tracks have been redone. Now for the bad tracks: the â€œAlcohol/Puke/Mon Cheri/Wonderful Lifeâ€ medley is an attempt to put the live version (found on â€œFat, Ugly and Liveâ€) into a studio form. The result is that it sounds a lot tamer, and again makes me wonder why this compilation features no live tracks to spice it up a bit. The only track that I really feel is totally ripped out of context on this compilation is the finishing track â€œMinds on the Moonâ€. This song with a high sing-along factor does not benefit the heaviness of the new tankard sound, probably due to the fact that the "The Tankard" album had an already lighter sound than the rest of their discography. The other tracks on the compilation that I have not yet spoken of are just fine, not surprisingly better than their original nor raped or ripped out of context. Just of enough quality to be worth a place on this best of.
All in all this is a rather good compilation of their best tracks. Few things that could have made it better would have been some live tracks as said before, or some rare/unreleased material to make it more worth the money for the fans who already own most of Tankardâ€™s albums. If you or a friend of yours, for whatever reason, never experienced any Tankard before, this would be a great compilation to give it a try.