The Phantom Tollbooth
 

For the Working Class
 Artist: Left Out
 Label: Grrr Records
 Time: 44:49 minutes / 15 Tracks
 
Brian Grey is at it again. He's been in more bands than the Bulls have been in championships,  and Left Out is his latest groovin' group made up of old school punks.
 
The music and sometimes over-bearing vocals are by far the album's weakest parts. Every song is made up of the basic three chord progression, and only occasionally do they venture into melody. The best word to describe the music is raw (Then again, is punk supposed to be anything else besides raw?). There is one slow instrumental song, "Leave Me Alone," that tries to capture emotion, but despite its rough edges it still seems out of place on the album. Although overall For the Working Class does not sound as "angry" as Grey's former bands, The Blamed and Six Feet Deep, it still took me back a few years to when I first started skating, to the era of local garage, anger management bands. A lot of the material is reminiscent of the old-school Christian punk band One Bad Pig. This is simple punk with a sense of humor, a dash of aggression, and a sprinkle of annoyance.
 
Left Out, however, earn credit for their lyrics which attack a number of issues admirably, including smoking, cliques, trendy music, and monster movies. For example, "You and Everyone Else (Smoking Self-destruction Song)," is a great level-headed view of a vice that plagues many people. Grey's opinion of smoking is articulated without being overly condemning:

Proving that old school punk and rap don't mix, "Oh God," just annoys. Black Willie from Cauzin Effect raps on this track and sounds like a death metal singer who has been sucking on helium. By the track's end he is rhyming a hundred miles an hour, but going nowhere, which only further proves to unsettle your nerves.
 
But for a song with great lyrics, check out  "Step Up to the Mic." In this track, Left Out slam straight-edge rivalries, propaganda, and values as well as do a little goth-bashing and vampire- vexing. I love the sense of humor they use to display their point of view. This song is also  purposely done as a Beastie Boy rip-off, and hilariously ends the album on a much better note than it started.
 
Although at first, Left Out may not catch your ear, you may warm up to them later on. Most old school fans will find this record a delight, but others, like me, will call it merely acceptable.
 
Justin W. Jones (6/20/99)