Kings of the skate, legends of US punk and social-political spokesmen for a generation… What would a skate/punk festival be without Pennywise headlining it, or an Epitaph compilation be without one of their tracks raising the levels of fury sky high… Would the scene even exist without their role pivoting everyone else around them?

For years the band have had to survive under the shadow of their label bosses Bad Religion… their sound was similar and their ethics pretty much identical, but whereas Bad Religion secretly wanted to be a Country band, Pennywise had aspirations of being some streetwise, gutter based punk band… Their obvious intelligence and natural ability to give even white noise a sense of melody made this an impossible dream to fulfil, and we're all the richer for it. The bands legacy is impossible to deny or even ignore, and with their first four albums being re-released and remixed (and at a low price) all the proof you'll ever need rests squarely on these four releases.

As debut's go this (PENNYWISE, 1991) is as frantic as it is frenetic a starting point. The band are totally focussed and already fully established in their sound. The confidence and sheer pace throughout is dazzling even to this day. The band play "Rules" and "Homeless" live even to this day as a testimony to the unbelievable strength this debut possesses, with "Bro Hymn" as a statement of intent, the band remain unbeaten. 1993's UNKNOWN ROAD was one step closer to perfection, the band showing a harder edge and expanding outside of the lines set by their debut. In my revisionist mind though it was just a stepping stone to their masterpiece… ABOUT TIME (1995)was it for me, every song a classic and every chorus a hymn. You had the call to arms of "Peaceful Day", the anarchic rallying of "Perfect People" and the genius that is "Same Old Story" to complete the albums buzz saw anthems for a disenchanted youth. By 1997 the band had lost their bass player Jason Thirsk (replaced by the bands current bass player Randy). With the tone of FULL CIRCLE, it seems a fitting tribute to the bands defining spirit. The songs are full of anger, confusion and bitterness. Their "Bro Hymn Tribute" is the perfect end to an era that saw them leap from their underground roots to the respected and influential throne they now inhabit.

As to what future the band has, they may never hit the same highs as these four albums, but they're a formidable live band and with a repertoire as strong as this, I don't see them shying away anytime soon! Bless their cotton socks!

By Jeremy Chick