Less Than Jake at 30 – Part 2 and 3: Losing Streak / Hello Rockview

Some international readers may wonder why I’m including LTJ albums two and three in one post. UK fans will likely know straight away.

In Spring 2002 I took a trip to London with my Mum. While she went to a specialist hospital appointment I walked from London Waterloo, across the Thames, up through Charing Cross and Trafalgar Square to Piccadilly Circus where, at the time, were three massive record shops, all facing in on each other like behemoths full of jewel cases. HMV, Virgin Megastores and Tower Records. I could spend hours here, and on many an occasion, before they each disappeared one by one, I did.

On this day I had exactly what I was looking for in mind. It had been a packed couple of years of getting into the bands that would soundtrack my teenage years. Of all of these, I’d begun to decide that Less Than Jake would be my personal favourite. If that was going to be case, I’d need at some point to actually invest in an album. Local record shops were limited to releases closer to the the Top 40 and shopping online wasn’t a widely adopted practice yet. This was no ordinary trip to London, this was a window of opportunity.

I’d probably decided in advance on Hello Rockview as the correct starting place for delving into buying up the LTJ discography, albeit 4 years since it’s initial release. Lead single All My Best Friends Are Metalheads was the song that introduced me to the band, when it found it’s way onto the Digimon: The Movie soundtrack and into my delighted ears just over a year earlier.

A wonderful UK label called Golf Records were the vital player in making this punk rock procurement process a success. Golf had partnered with LTJ to licence and release their music on these shores. Some genius at the label had come up with idea, or was perhaps directed by the band, to release a 2 CD set including Hello Rockview and Losing Streak. This was a very attractive proposition for a new fan on a 14 year old’s budget. I’m sure the packaged pair cost more than a standalone album, but it was certainly cheaper than two. Done deal.

When I got home I plucked out the Hello Rockview disc, extracted the lyric booklet and listened along to every track, marvelling in the unique approach of a comic book comprised of the songs lyrics that accompanied the album (although not in perfect order, which took my teenage brain a bit of figuring out). I’ve probably heard this album a thousand times since then and yet I don’t think I ever ‘read’ along again until now. I’ve just completed a listen through with the comic 20 years later and I’m now thinking, perhaps for the first time ever, I wonder what the album sounds like in the story layout order?

Even at my young age in 2002, I’d already learnt from the mistake of overloading myself too much with whatever music I could lay my hands on (mostly £1 rentals from the library). The discovery of music was best when savoured. As I finished up on the first spin of Hello Rockview I didn’t immediately dive into Losing Streak. I saved this for a few days later.

I have a crystal clear memories of having to dip the sound on my stereo during Ask The Magic 8 Ball on Losing Streak, because my 9 year old cousin was in the room and the expletives probably would have got me in trouble if he’d repeated it. Some time later that same cousin, Ben, despite his heavier tastes in music became a Less Than Jake fan himself and we’ve seen a handful of shows together (including one a week from now, at the time of writing). Music is brilliant isn’t it?

Ownership of this set became like an extension of my being in the months that followed the pivotal day in London. I was the go to person for the good shit. The good shit being CD-R copies for all of my best friends (sorry LTJ, they bought their own copies eventually).

Around this same time I was wearing the baggiest, flared jeans known to man. They were a constant tripping hazard and in hindsight, looked ridiculous, but one of the few benefits were massive pockets. CD cases fit perfectly in them. I can remember using these to (somewhat) safely transport Hello Rockview and Losing Streak along to parties.

In 2006, while browsing a second hand record shop in Birmingham with my friend and fellow fan Edward, I found a standalone copy of Losing Streak. Because the 2 disc set prioritises the Hello Rockview art on the front cover and spine, I had to buy this Losing Streak pressing to create a more complete look to the discography on my CD shelf. I’ll confess, my collection is actually still without the 2011 Sleep It Off Records re-release of each album on CD (with the DVDs and updated artwork), I may have to hunt these down.

I did however pick up the much awaited 2016 repress of Hello Rockview and Losing Streak on vinyl. These weren’t packaged as a set, but receiving them in the post together felt right. I’m looking forward to getting the Losing Streak monster vinyl toy when the pre-orders are fulfilled later this year. Perhaps we could get a double set of the Hello Rockview man and woman as figures next guys?

Favourite tracks: Sugar In Your Gas Tank (Losing Streak) and Scott Farcas Takes It On The Chin (Hello Rockview) – I think a big part of what I love about these two tracks is the breakdown they each have, where the music slims down and Vinnie’s lyrics are given chance to shine. I’ll still always sing (yell) along to these sections at the top of my voice every time I see the band. Fortunately for me, they’re both regular staples of the live set list.

On a side note, there’s something fitting about my first LTJ purchase having been bought in London. Over the years I’ve seen the band live more times in the city than anywhere else. In 2007 I stayed in London for a week for the bands 6 night residency at The Astoria 2. In 2015 I was pulled onto the stage with the band at KOKO in Camden to dance to the Pac-Man song. In 2016 I got to release their album Live From Astoria on vinyl via my label, Saint November Records. In 2019 I saw the band play their last UK show before the pandemic, which was, rather fittingly, a Hello Rockview album set.

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