1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours: A Beautiful Mess


Many believe that Kerplunk, or even Dookie, is Green Day’s first album. In fact, neither of these was their first album. That honor belongs to 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, a compilation of three EPs, released on indie record Lookout in 1991. For simplicity, it will be referred to as Slappy in this article, but the full name is, yes, 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours.


Steeped in the culture of the Oakland venue Gilman Street, Slappy is musically the purest punk rock that Green Day ever produced, untouched by such things as fame and major label production. It is messy, sometimes repetitive, and filled with small mistakes, but nonetheless raucously charming.


Having not yet acquired permanent drummer Tré Cool, the drums on this album are played by John Kiffmeyer, and lack a bit of the magic of later albums. The drums often seem to interrupt, rather than compliment the songs, and are not quite on beat at faster tempos. The production is very rough, it is hard to make out the bass, and the guitars are thin. Even with good speakers, it sounds slightly tinny. Each song uses the same three or four power chords, though there are some quite interesting riffs and solos.


Mike Dirnt’s bass has not yet matured into its later excellence, but a nineteen-year-old Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice is already quite good. His tone, though it would later mature and acquire more versatility, is already solidified, a trademark nasal whine.


The standout tracks, musically, are “Going To Pasalacqua” and “I Was There”, which features hummable melodies and juicy harmonies, two qualities which will become Green Day staples.


The bulk of Slappy is concerned with young love, specifically the feeling of an unrequited crush, and the acquiring and losing of high school girlfriends. Opening track “At The Library” describes our protagonist seeing a girl at the library, only for him to discover she has a boyfriend. Other tracks, such as “Don’t Leave Me” and “Why Do You Want Him?” are quite self-explanatory. “1,000 Hours” is a downright poetic love song, with such lyrics as, “Let my hands flow through your hair, Moving closer, a kiss we’ll share,”.


Green Day (early nineties) : r/greenday


Notable tracks include the song “Green Day”, a playful ode to a day spent smoking weed. Yes, this is the origin of the band’s name.


“409 in Your Coffeemaker” is a song about dropping out of high school. (Formula 409 is cleaning fluid, so it probably wouldn’t taste too great in coffee.) For a song about being a dropout, it contains a surprisingly insightful criticism of schools, saying, “Maybe I’m just too damn lazy, Or maybe I was just brainwashed to think that way.” Even in their first album, we see hints of their later social commentary, in this song of discontent with following the crowd.


There is more social commentary in eighth track “Road To Acceptance”, a song about wanting to be accepted. Billie Joe sings, “If you’d stop a while and maybe if you’d smile,

You would realize that we’re all the same. It’s just like our brain, When it goes insane, We feel the same pain.” All people are the same inside, we all hurt the same way, says a teenaged Billie Joe Armstrong.


The remainder of the album describes social anxiety and the stress of growing up, universal experiences of adolescence. One of the most personal tracks is “Disappearing Boy”, which describes Billie Joe’s resentment towards his step-father, and his experience growing up as the shy youngest of six children.


Despite its flaws, Slappy is simply good, solid pop punk, with all the pitfalls that are common to that genre. Altogether, 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours is a raucous good time, capturing the feeling of a garage punk show, with a few hidden gems.