Lifetime is one of the most unique bands that’s ever passed through the hardcore community… They somehow mixed pop punk, indie, and hardcore into one fluid sound that was absolutely original and unique to them, and them only. Over the years I’ve seen several bands set out to do something similar, but it invariably ends up sounding like one of two things… It either sounds like the more mainstream pop punk stuff that we’ve seen proliferate in the 2000’s era, or else it’s not quite poppy enough and it just kind of sounds like wimpy hardcore with no threat. The bottom line is Lifetime has been imitated a thousand times, but hasn’t been duplicated even once. The closest thing to it would be Lifetime guitarist Dan Yemin’s next band, Kid Dynamite, but that was purposely done quite differently – “Shorter, Faster, Louder”, duh! I never got to see Lifetime play live during their original formation in the late 1990’s… I had one opportunity when I was 15 years old – when they played with Good Riddance in Chico, CA. I did not know who Lifetime was, but was pumped on going to see Good Riddance. Unfortunately, my family had fallen upon some hard times that year, and it turned out that I had to help my family move to another home the week of the GR/Lifetime show. My best friend, Zach Harlan, went to the show, and brought home the Lifetime “Hello Bastards” recording, talking about how awesome they had been. I’ve loved them ever since! To this day I still wish that I could have seen them that night in Chico, CA, but I’m glad Zach was able to go so that he could share their records with me. In my opinion, the “Hello Bastards” and “Jersey’s Best Dancers” LP’s are always going to stand as untouchable classics.
Lifetime – “s/t” 7″This is the first Lifetime 7″, on New Age Records. Check out the guitarist’s hat – why is a kid from NJ wearing an Oakland A’s hat? I mean, I back it, since Oakland is where I’ve called home for many years now, but that’s interesting. Hmmm, either he had ties to the west coast, or he was a total front runner. The A’s were so good back then, winning World Series championships with the steroid-clad “Bash Brothers”, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, hahaha. I’ve never been much of a fan of the very early Lifetime stuff, but I understand why it sounds the way it does. They were a young band starting out in the early 1990’s, which was a very weird time for the hardcore punk scene. People were experimenting with softer stuff, heavier stuff, and more emotional stuff. The positive to all of this experimentation is that it ultimately allowed enough space to create the later Lifetime albums that we hold as unique, modern classics.
Lifetime – “Ghost” LPThe “Ghost” LP is a weird one. It’s super hard to find – maybe there were only 500-1000 ever pressed or something? I don’t know, but you don’t see them often anymore. It was released in Europe, and it’s got most of the songs from the “Background” LP.
Lifetime – “Background” LPThis is the first Lifetime full length album, on New Age Records. As I said above, I think most people who get into the later Lifetime albums are bummed out when they check out this first album, but you just have to put the time and place in context. I don’t think the later albums would have come out as amazing as they did if there wasn’t room for experimentation in the early 1990’s.
Lifetime – “Tinnitus” 7″The “Tinnitus” 7″ with “pre-cover” is something that is very hard to come by. As the back-cover states, it’s “stupid” and not meant to be a limited cover – the covers just weren’t done yet. But, as always happens with these things whether it’s intended or not, it’s now a limited version that’s sought after, haha. The original owner obviously followed directions by sending a letter to the band with his/her return address in order to get a real cover.
Here’s a regular copy that I owned for years while I searched for one of the pre-cover copies (it took forever to find one). I sold this one once I scored the pre-cover copy since that copy also came with a real cover.
Lifetime – “Seveninches” LPThe “Seveninches” LP was released in Europe and combines the first “self-titled” 7″ and the “Tinnitus” 7″ on one 12″. They are almost impossible to find on yellow vinyl – this is another one that took me forever to run down.
Lifetime – “Hello Bastards” LPNow we finally get to the “Hello Bastards” album – this is the album that set Lifetime apart and made them the classic that we know and love today. The majority of people within every sub-genre of hardcore loves this album. It’s able to cross almost all boundaries and provide just enough for everyone without sounding like it’s all over the place. That is almost impossible to do, and I believe that’s why no one has ever been successful in duplicating it. When a band tries to imitate it, they either sound all over the place, or too mainstream pop-boy-band, or too fast-typical-punk. The “map” image on the labels of this album is a striking and defining image in my mind, because that’s what was printed on the face of that CD that Zach Harlan brought home from that Lifetime/Good Riddance show which got me hooked on the band forever. That CD face was the only graphical image that I had to tie to the band, so it’s always been the image that flashes in my mind when I think of Lifetime. The original pressings of this album never came on colored vinyl. It was pressed on black vinyl many times over the years. It seems like that was done by design at the band’s request, since none of their previous releases came on colored vinyl either? Eventually this white vinyl colored pressing popped up, followed by the purple vinyl (shown below). I don’t think there were other colors, but maybe? I also owned an original test pressing of “Hello Bastards” on Jade Tree, but I sold it recently before I could take a photo – damn!
Lifetime – “Jersey’s Best Dancers” LPI always go back and forth on whether I like “Jersey’s Best” or “Hello Bastards” more. “Jersey’s Best” is faster, and I tend to gravitate more to that. But “Hello Bastards” just has so much nostalgia attached to it for me that I always end up settling on liking them equally. Like “Hello Bastards”, Jade Tree only pressed this album on black vinyl for many years. Later, they pressed the grey and red vinyl versions. There may have been other pressings done later, or even recently by another label?
Lifetime – “Boy’s No Good” 7″This single features 2 songs – “Boys No Good” and “Somewhere In The Swamps Of New Jersey”. I think Jade Tree ran these colored vinyl pressings as 500 each, but I’m not sure.
Lifetime – “Two Songs” 7″The “Two Songs” 7″ was the first new release from Lifetime when they reunited in the late 2000’s. I believe the limited version was blue vinyl, and there may have been other colors? I never had any of those, only this regular black vinyl copy.
Lifetime – “s/t” LPThis LP was recorded and released after Lifetime got back together in the late 2000’s. I can’t believe how good this thing is! Usually when bands get back together and try to re-capture the dynamic that they once had, the result is not pretty. This is absolutely a huge exception to that rule! I really like this record, and they did an especially good job of trying not to duplicate their records from the mid-1990’s, but embraced change and made a Lifetime record as it would/should sound in the late 2000’s. This is the kind of record I throw on in the summer when I’m driving in the car on a sunny day (cheese). I think the red vinyl was the original/limited pressing on Decaydence Records, but I know there were other colors pressed later. My copy doesn’t have an insert, and I’ve heard that others don’t either. Not sure what’s up with that.
V/A – “It’s For Life” LP Compilation“It’s For Life” comp, featuring Mouthpiece, Lifetime, Strife, Unbroken, Flagman, Mean Season, Resurrection, and Reveal. Mid 90’s jamz, complete with weird pink-ish vinyl. I think this was released or funded by Victory Records in some way.
My Lifetime collection, at its peak…
- Lifetime – s/t (BLACK)
- Lifetime – Tinnitus (BLACK, Pre-cover with note about UPS fucked up covers, out of 50??)
- Lifetime – Tinnitus (BLACK, out of 1000)
- Lifetime – Boy’s No Good (CLEAR, out of 500)
- Lifetime – Boy’s No Good (PINK, out of 500)
- Lifetime – Boy’s No Good (RED, out of 500)
- Lifetime – Boy’s No Good (BLACK)
- Lifetime – 2 songs (BLACK)
- Lifetime – Background (TEST PRESS)
- Lifetime – Background (BLACK)
- Lifetime – Hello Bastards (TEST PRESS)
- Lifetime – Hello Bastards (WHITE, out of 550)
- Lifetime – Hello Bastards (PURPLE)
- Lifetime – Hello Bastards (BLACK)
- Lifetime – Jersey’s Best Dancers (TEST PRESS)
- Lifetime – Jersey’s Best Dancers (GREY, out of 500)
- Lifetime – Jersey’s Best Dancers (RED, out of 500)
- Lifetime – Jersey’s Best Dancers (BLACK)
- Lifetime – Ghost (BLACK, Euro release, one time press of 1000, hard to come by)
- Lifetime – Seveninches (YELLOW, these seem really hard to find)
- Lifetime – Seveninches (BLACK)
- Lifetime – s/t (RED, 1st press, out of 250, Decaydence Records)
- Lifetime – s/t (PINK, repress, No Idea Records)
- V/A – It’s For Life (PINK)