One of the greatest punk rock albums ever recorded!
*special introductory paragraph!




















Wait, what's all THIS crap?

*Welcome To Reality EP
*Brats In Battalions
*The Complete Demos 1980-1986: "Naughty Women In Black Sweaters"
*Live 1981 & 1986
*Balboa Fun Zone
*Return To The Black Hole
*Live At The House Of Blues DVD
*OC Confidential

The 1981 self-titled Adolescents debut is an absolute Orange County punk rock classic: the stuffed-nose childish vocals, teen angst lyrics, speedy drumbeats, melodic chord sequences and smart, emotional lead guitar parts give it an instantly exciting and memorable feel that you (I) just want to listen to over and over again. I didn't discover it until I'd heard about 5 billion other punk albums, and the songs STILL stood out enough for it to become one of my favorites. Unfortunately, the band couldn't stick together. Lead guitar rock hero Rikk Agnew left first, leaving the band a bit impotent for the sluggish Welcome To Reality EP. Then the whole shebang fell apart, with drummer Casey Royer forming D.I. (with Rikk Agnew!). Four years later, Rikk decided to reform the Adolescents -- or at least as much of it as he could. He convinced singer Tony and bassist Steve Soto to join him for Brats In Battalions, and then they fell apart AGAIN!!! By the time of 1988's Balboa Fun Zone, Tony was gone, rhythm guitarist Frank Agnew was back, and Rikk himself was singing lead! After that, your guess is as good as mine. Rikk made a few solo albums, Steve joined 22 Jacks and eventually somebody-or-other joined Tony in ADZ. Then they left and Tony continued making albums under the name ADZ. Thus, one of the best punk rock bands in the world left behind a legacy of ONE great album. But now they're BACK! Or at least they were back for about five minutes in 2005; I'm told that Rikk has once again left the band.

* Adolescents - Frontier 1981 *
Rating = 10

Sometimes in life you run across an album that just nails it, from beginning to end. Even though I inexplicably failed to hear Adolescents during my Descendents/D.I./T.S.O.L./Bad Religion High School Punk Years, my first encounter with the album (in my mid-20s) instantly reminded me why I fell in love (AS A FRIEND) with punk rock in the first place. This group of children from Orange County, California may have lacked the discipline to maintain a stable line-up for more than 10 minutes, but for one wonderful album, they displayed a jaw-dropping talent for capturing the emotional turmoil of adolescence in musical form. Whether this was their intention or not I've no idea, but the combination of cracking puberty vocals, buzzsaw guitar riffs merging angry desperate punk with anthemic hard rock, and direct lyrics about genuine teenager concerns (boredom, alienation, girls, drugs, hopelessness, fights, school, the threat of war, wackin the bean) resulted in one of the most honest, emotional and hook-tastic-derful-icious-y records of the punk rock era (1955-2008).

The 27-minute LP includes 13 uptempo and midtempo songs, chiefly of the punk rock subgenre but also incorporating elements of stadium rock and metal. The vocals are mostly spoken and shouted by the 16-year-old 'singer,' and a soft-toned bass doubles the root notes of the distorted guitar riffs. It's not produced in such a way as to kick huge ass with aggressive in-your-face violence, but boy are the songs catchy! Some feature great melodic backing vocals too. As for the band members, bassist Steve Soto came from Agent Orange, guitarist brothers Rikk and Frank Agnew would do lots of quitting, drummer Casey Royer later became the leader of D.I., and singer Tony changed his last name with every record (Cadena/Montana/Reflex/etc.), constantly disappointing fans who believed they were listening to Dez Cadena's brother or, alternately, cocaine great Tony Montana. Strangely, Tony actually was the 1983 Duran Duran single "The Reflex."

Every song is a standout - the snotty opener "I Hate Children," brooding "Who Is Who," death rock "Wrecking Crew," angry metallic "L.A. Girl," desperate punk "Self-Destruct," anthemic homelessness epic "Kids Of The Black Hole," upset hard rock/punk "No Way," rebellious first single "Amoeba," hardcore "Word Attack," strange-chorded "Rip It Up," paranoid circular "Democracy," bubbly pop bass-driven "No Friends" and headbanging cry for help "Creatures" - and even gross lyrics like "I gotta go home and jack off instead" and "They say 'no' so I jerk white tears" (both from the pen of Rikk) sound less perverse than depressed amid this context of teenage alienation and hopelessness.

See, the thing about being a teenager - if I recall correctly - is that your brain finally develops into something that can ponder itself. I remember as a child writing songs about "going insane," but I had no concept of what it actually felt like. Likewise, all the diaries I kept in elementary and middle school were simply dull recall of my daily activities. I'm not trying to force my brain onto anybody else's experience here, but I'm pretty sure that this is an accurate description of the normal brain of youth. Granted, if you are abused or raised in an unnatural situation, you will likely either mature much earlier or develop neuroses and psychoses as your brain develops, but my point is that a normal, healthy child isn't exactly a deep thinker until his brain suddenly develops that capacity during the teenage years. And then suddenly you're ALL FUCKED UP! Fear of failure and insanity, anxiety about the future, constantly shifting morals and allegiances, awkwardness with the ladies, the feeling that nobody understands you, loneliness, alienation, depression, confusion, and the suicidal misconception that it will always be this way. Minor successes followed by humiliating defeats. Everybody changing all the time, trying on new personalities like pairs of shoes. It's no wonder that there are so many school shootings - being a teenager sucks dickbutt! I wouldn't do it again for all the tea in China, because I hate tea.

And this is the world presented in the Adolescents' songs. When they wrote these songs, this was their brain on life: "The walls are closing in on me/I don't know what to do/Tell me who is who?"; "There's nothing to do, excitement level zero/I can't find a girl cuz they're all out chasing heroes"; "I'm not accepted by my peers - so what/I could care less about the queers - they suck!"; "Got me running into walls/Say good things, say bad things/Because you're unpredictable!"; "I'm bored of the sleazy make-up; you'd fuck any guy in town/Your life's a total mess-up/Why the hell do you hang around?"

This must-own punk record is available on a compact disc that also features the band's (terrible) next EP and Rikk Agnew's (surprisingly strong!) first solo album. It has a blue cover that reads:


so good work on that formatting, guys.

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Welcome To Reality EP - Frontier 1982
Rating = 2

One time when I was a little boy of 15, my friend Christian Smith and I decided to record a terrible song I'd written called "Batman Shit." It was a vicious scream of unrepentant rage at our pop-obsessed society, bolstered by such biting retorts as "Batman T-shirts? How nice and clean!" and "Commercialization pisses me off!" However, one item we forgot to discuss before tearing our way through this one-take hardcore milestone was the ending (or 'coda'). As I wound things down with an unannounced (and awful) rendition of the Batman TV theme, nobody in this world or any other could have predicted what would happen next. "Batman," I began wearily. "Batman... 1! 2! 3! 4! --"

Here I should point out that I was internally thinking to myself "Batman sucks!" But how could Christian Smith have known what was going on in the mind of an artistic revolutionary whose gigantic ideas just won't slow down? All he knew was that the song was called "Batman Shit"! As such, the song ends with what sounds like an anger-drenched dual scream of "SHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIUUUUUCCCCKKKKKK!"

My point is this: "Shiuck" isn't actually a word. And that's why I'm finding it so difficult to describe the Welcome To Reality EP.

To paraphrase The Minutemen, What Makes A Band Start Sucking?. There is absolutely no reason for The Adolescents to have deteriorated from brilliant punk band to slow shit-metal crapxtravacrapza in the space of FIVE MONTHS. Yes, they lost Rikk Agnew in the interim, but this is still the same Steve, Tony and Frank that wrote "Who Is Who"; where did they leave their musical taste the night they wrote "Welcome To Reality" and "Losing Battle"!? These songs are BAD CORNY METAL with "mean" chord changes, powerless production and no melodic intelligence at all. "Losing Battle" is particularly embarrassing because it's uptempo - how hard is it to write a good FAST song? Even Linkin Park pulled it off once, and they're the stupidest people in the world! (Guinness Book 2008)

Say! Remember how the first album's lyrics were driven by familiar feelings of real-life alienation, rage and loneliness? Here's the first verse of "Welcome To Reality":

"Blood so deep the horse must hold his head up high
In the valley of decision where 1/3 of the world will die
Beat your hoes & plows into axes and spears
As the armies meet in a battle they've predicted for years."

Dude, I TOTALLY remember feeling that way back in high school! Remember that time the warrior armies rode into the bathroom when I was dropping a load? And I had to real quick twist the toilet paper holder into a dagger? That so totally sucked a nut!

Say! Remember how the first album's lyrics didn't include stupid psychedelic imagery and pro-LSD sentiment? Here's the last verse of "Things Start Moving":

"Things start disappearing & to rearrange
Mickey Mouse with his wizard's wand & another change
Trolley car makes a turn & now we're lost
Foot by foot another great trip never want to stop

Dude, that's TOTALLY why I started listening to punk rock - for the mystical hippy spiritualism!

Welcome To Reality is 6 1/2 minutes of disappointment -- a once-phenomenal punk clique reducing itself to failed Ronnie James Dio's. But if nothing else, it at least (in retrospect) explains why Frank Agnew wound up joining HVY-DRT afterwards (see He actually LIKED this Tuff-Boy Pussy Metal!

So if you'd like your labia pierced and don't know where to turn, come on down and see us at Tuff-Boy Pussy Metal! (No refunds if some guy's dick rips it out and you bleed all over the place, whore)

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Brats In Battalions - Triple X 1986
Rating = 6

Rikk is Bakk!!

But now Frankk is gone! And Casey!? What happened to Casey!? My childhood dog was named Casey. He was a good boy. And he lived til the ripe old age of 17, long after I'd grown up and left home. Remember that time his blindness prevented him from sensing a low-hanging branch, so he stabbed himself in the eye and spent the entire night crying in pain, fear and isolation (being also deaf by that point) before being euthanized the next day? My father does! Often!

Frank has been replaced by yet ANOTHER Agnew (Spiro) and the new drummer is Sandy Hanson. Ha ha! No no, I'm kidding! Spiro Agnew served as the United States' Vice-President under Richard Nixon from 1969 through 1973! Then he joined the Adolescents in 1986.

Things first things: this aren't your Father's Adolescents. Although gallons better than the Maladolescenza of Welcome To Reality, Brats In Batallions doesn't sound a bit like the young gang of whippersnappers that recorded Adolescents half a decade earlier. In fact, some might argue that this midtempo metal/pop/punk band should have renamed itself "Young Men"! Ha ha! Do you get me? I'm a fascinating riddle! Also, singer Tony blew his voice out in The Abandoned and has returned with a scratchy-throat rasp/growl that sadly often comes across as a Metal Dude who can't sing. His hair's too long too, HIPPY!

I apologize for calling attention to your plump hips.

The main problem is that the band didn't write enough new material before entering the studio. As such, they were forced to fill space with (a) re-recordings of all three Welcome To Reality tracks, (b) two cover tunes, and (c) a shitty two-chord song dating back to their earliest demo. This leaves only seven new compositions -- five of which are honestly fantastic songs! It starts strong, with a diverse quadruple-shot of great material (killer '70s rock riff at punk speed "Brats In Battalions," Government Issuey emotional rock song "I Love You," growly anti-Reagan punk-metal "The Liar" and a VASTLY improved re-recording of trudgey metalloid "Things Start Moving") and ends with a turbo-speed Stooges cover and the brilliant goth/punk/metal/Spanish/jazz construction "She Wolf." Unfortunately, of the seven 'middle' tracks, ONE is any fucking good at all.

Yes, "Peasant Song" is a lake of shiny harmonic bliss hidden deeply within an overflowing landfill of dopey pop-punk and awful metallic shit. And there has never, in the history of the verbalized noise, been a worse cover version of ANYTHING by ANYBODY than this version of "House Of The Rising Sun." Gross raspy voice, post-lame harmonica, lead "blooze" riffs - it stinks!!! Even after they switch to Ramones speed, it still stinks!!! And this is "House Of The Rising Sun" we're talking about! What would Eric Burdon say!? I tell you one thing -- it'd probably be incoherent. He's an alcoholic.

Also, I can't help but notice the seXXXy misspelling of 'Libya' in the lyrics sheet ("Watch the skies light up in Lybia tonight"). On a related note, did you see that MTV has a hot new movie coming out called How She Move? Good old urban culture, and its illiteracy.

If you have and love the first Adolescents album, I hate to say it but there are enough good songs on here to warrant a purchase too, if you can find it cheap enough. You may want to gouge out the middle half of the album and stomp on it, but the intro and conclusion are pure musical ore!

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The Complete Demos 1980-1986: "Naughty Women In Black Sweaters" - Frontier 2005
Rating = 7

This is a quote from a super-singer named Tony. It's called 'Tony's Meme':

"It's kind of a funny little title. And again, you have to kind of know the history of Fullerton music and the Adolescents in particular. There's an intentional inside joke there. The Naughty Women were a transvestite punk rock band from Fullerton who we all loved dearly, just a great rock band. Very, very punk rock, very, very fun. And they're a very funny bunch of guys. And the Black Sweaters were a group of girls that used to always hang around the scene, they were kind of the resident groupies of the early Fullerton scene. So we have Naughty Women in Black Sweaters. You can kind of put it all together and it has a whole new meaning. But even without that insight, the title's kind of funny on any level. But for us, when we did it we were all chuckling. They said, 'Do you have an album title?' I said, 'Yeah, how about this one?' And I threw that one out and they all just started to laugh. They're like, 'Oh!' So we have a good time. We still have a lot of fun. Fart jokes still make us laugh."

This one's for you, Tony!

Why did the fart cross the road?
To begin its afternoon shift at Taco Bell!

That was for you, Tony!

"Adolescents". The "scents" of "A Dole." The aromas wafting from a banana. Therefore, I conclude that this band is one big pecker joke. Casse closed.

On the other hand, this disc is comprised of 16 demos: 50% Adolescents material, a quarter unreleased early compositions, 1/16th later D.I. classic, and .1875 Brats In Battalions tracks. The songs are almost all great of course, but the real reason to buy it is that the first eight songs are performed by a pre-Adolescents line-up of the band. Guitarist John O'Donovan and drummer Peter Pan are inferior to Casey Royer and Rikk Agnew in every way, but it's interesting to note that the band's strong melodic sense was already present (in the form of "I Hate Children," "No Friends," "Who Is Who" and "Wrecking Crew") before the much-heralded Rikk even joined the band. The previously unreleased 1980 tracks (midtempo hard rockers "We Can't Change The World" and "Black Sheep," Descendentsy pop-punk "Growing Up Today" and aggressive punker "We Rule And You Don't") are less impressive, but still worth hearing if only for their incredible rarity-ness.

It's fascinating to hear how suddenly the band matured from 'decent but amateurish' to "tight, aggressive and awesome" with the addition of Casey and Rikk between May and July 1980. The tempos became much faster, Tony's vocals grew in confidence, and Rikk's rich musical vocabulary brought a whole new emotional component to the songwriting. This is most evident when comparing the John/Peter "Wrecking Crew" to the Casey/Rikk one (positioned next to each other on the disc so the band's progression is impossible to miss): the John/Peter one has a good headbanging rhythm and chugging guitars, but the Rikk/Casey one kicks absolute high-speed ASS! Ditto for their manic, terrific demos of "Creatures," "Amoeba" and "Self-Destruct" (with different, non-drug-related lyrics!).

Please note that I did not say 'Ditto for "Do The Eddie".' That is an awful song. And it's equally awful as "Do The Freddie" on Brats In Battalions. In fact, it would probably be just as awful as "Do The Betty," "Do The Teddy" or "Do the J. Paul Getty." I guess "Do The Tom Petty" might be okay if it was like a parody of "Don't Come Around Here No More," but what are the odds on that? That song wasn't even out yet.

I should probably point out that the disc's title is pretty misleading (but in a good way!). This isn't so much The Complete Demos 1980-1986 as it is The Complete Demos 1980 with three bonus tracks. These post-80 extras are (a) the band's disappointing aborted 1981 attempt at "Richard Hung Himself," which Casey later reworked into one of D.I.'s best-loved songs and (b) demos of "The Peasant Song" and "The Liar" with raspy vocals that are far too loud for the music. Incidentally, I adore the dopey, repetitive Tuff-Guy chorus of "The Liar" ("Reagan plays the liar, powers his desire," etc), and wholeheartedly agree with its sentiments concerning our current president. Fuck you, Ronald Reagan! Ram those jellybeans up your 'Contra'-sshole!

A few additional observations:

- Tony's voice hadn't gone through puberty at all yet, so "I Hate Children" comes across as bizarrely self-loathing.
- Though most of the recordings sound as muffled as you'd expect from demo tapes dating back a quarter-century, the second John/Peter session for some reason sounds excellent, and easily hi-fi enough for official release.
- Tony just talks the lyrics to "Who Is Who," sucking out all the angst and hopelessness that propel the album version.
- What on Earth were they thinking when they wrote this early chorus to "Richard Hung Himself"?! Every time it comes around, it sounds like somebody has crudely sliced a few seconds out of the CD! Not that that's possible.
- 16 songs in less than half an hour. Yay!

Person A: "Hey, what's that TV show coming out of your butt?"
Person B: "Mary Fartman, Mary Fartman."
Person A: "Well, I'll be farted."

That was for you, Tony!

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Live 1981 & 1986 - Triple X 1989
Rating = 7

"A Customer" on summed up Live 1981 & 1986 perfectly when he wrote "this cd is awesome but im really doing this so maybe ill get the 50 dollar gift certificate."

Speaking of our failed educational system, I was eating a Large Mac with Curly Fries and Ice Milk down at the local McDonald's two days ago when I overheard an interesting excuse for a conversation wafting from the booth next to me. Four overweight black teenagers were eating and chit-chatting, and suddenly this wing-ding exchange came bursting forth:

Girl: "So how's it going? School going alright?"
Boy: "I got a 20 on my English test."
All: (*laugh whole-heartedly*)
Girl: "English? That's your own language! You can't speak English? 'Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So....'?"

(*deep, deep sigh*)

If I had a nickel for every time I mixed up the English alphabet with the Solfege system of note learning....

Why, I'd have NO MONEY AT ALL!

I considered interrupting, "Yeah! Don't you know the alphabet? 'E-G-B-D-F'?," but was too busy not getting my ass kicked at the time.

Speaking of "getting my ass kicked," this disc showcases two distinct eras of The Adolescents plowing through rock and roll nights in the city of lights. The first nine songs are from 1981, when Tony Montana Cadena Reflex sounded like an angst-ridden teen and looked about 11 years old (I'm dead serious about this; hunt down some early photos of the band and look at how skinny and young he was). These are followed by seven songs from the 1986 (first) reunion, by which time he had grown a raspy metal-punk shout and hip shaggy bleached hair. I think there's music on here too, but this is Mark Prindle's Haircut Reviews so don't e

Finally it ends with two demos you don't need because they're on the Complete Demos CD now.

The live tracks include 11 Adolescents favorites (all except "I Hate Children" and "Democracy"), all 3 Welcome To Reality stench releasers, and a mere 2 additional Brats In Battalions tracks ("The Liar" and Stooges cover "I Got A Right"). The sound and performance in both sets are excitingly raw, fast and sweaty; the musicians try to contribute melodic backing vocals, but you can tell they're too busy kicking ass all over the place to do them cleanly.

There are of course a ton of great songs on here, but fuck those. More importantly, FLAT-OUT STINKERS in the '81 set include the always terrible "Welcome To Reality" and "Losing Battle," and the '86 show is home to such BONE-HEADED DISPLAYS OF HUMILIATING INEPTITUDE as a godawful Tuff-Metal take on "Wrecking Crew" and a version of "Kids Of The Black Hole" that is so sloppy, out-of-tune, error-rific and embarrassing that they must have included it as a joke -- drums far too loud (with multiple screw-ups!), off-key lead guitar, Tony contributing a dopey anti-government rant in the middle.... it's just AWFUL!

Awfully GOOD, that is!!!

Do you need this CD? Only if you want to hear the cherished "Blue Album" tracks performed live and loose. It may be the same songs you've heard a gillion times before, but the energy level is high, the band clicks well as a raucous on-stage unit, and that one verse in "No Way" is still gross and sexist ("No ass, no head/I gotta go home and jack off instead"). Thanks for the E.R.A. manifesto, Rikk "The Dikk" Agnew!

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Balboa Fun Zone - Triple X 1988
Rating = 3

When hardcore punk supposedly hit a glass ceiling in 1986 (try telling that to the Dwarves, Bad Religion, The Vandals or any of the other great speedy bands that reached creative peaks post-'86), many practitioners of this fine art attempted to remain commercially viable by converting their music into one of the following sub-genres: (A) accessible jangly college rock (ex. 7 Seconds, Youth Brigade/The Brigade), (B) high-speed 'crossover' thrash (ex. DRI, Suicidal Tendencies), (C) midtempo punk-metal (ex. AOD, TSOL, GBH). Choice A resulted in some of the dullest REM/U2 imitations ever conceived, Choice B ruled and was the correct one, and Choice C was absolutely humiliating, with former punkers suddenly growing long sexy hair, wearing Slash-esque hats and playing weak hard rock/metal in an attempt to cash in on the success of Guns N' Fucken Roses. Sadly for everybody involved in the musical industry, The Adolescents chose number C.

But don't blame Tony for this mess! He had already quit the band and moved on to life with AIDS.

No, my bad - ADZ. But, like the great David Gilmour before them, Rikk Agnew and Steve Soto had no desire to lose their possibly profitable band name, and instead vowed to introduce it to a whole new audience of L.A. hair metallers. The result is as bad as it is awful.

Balboa Fun Zone is comprised of shitty punk-metal, rotten pop-metal and asinine tuff-metal, all topped by the worst vocals in the history of the world besides Tori Amos. Rikk and Steve have tag-teamed to replace Tony, but they both have the exact same godawful amateurish off-key pseudo-tough gravelly weak-metal voice! I'm sure this seemed 'the thing to do' in 1989 (as did the enclosed photo of Rikk trying to be Izzy Stradlin, with bare chest, tattoo, motorcycle jacket, gold chain and marching band hat), but I have to imagine that this was considered a major bomb even at the time. Old-timey Adolescentsy fans must have been instantly turned off by the stylistic change, and surely the whore-dressing young girls that made the glam metal scene worthwhile would have avoided a band with such ugly lead vocals (most of them sung by a fat guy!).

Many people believe that the subconscious is the entryway to the subconscience, so here are a few notes that I subconsciously wrote on a loose-leaf piece of piano wire while listening to Balboa Fun Zone. Hopefully these brief descriptions will prove helpful to you in your quest to not have to listen to this album:

RIOT ON THE BEACH - "Catchy! Rebellious! No wait - dumb."

JUST LIKE BEFORE - "Corny Styx-style synth over corny 2-chord pop-metal crap. Raspy Rikk sounds like Joe Strummer singing an exceedingly bad Clash song."

ALLEN HOTEL - "AC/DC! Danzig! Killer hard rock riffage! Terrible cornball chorus kills it though."

GENIUS IN PAIN - "Uptempo punk beat! Not terribly interesting music."

TIL' (sic) SHE COMES DOWN - "Shitty Cock Rock Shit Hair Metal Shittiness."

MODERN DAY NAPOLEON - "Trying to play THRASH! Hilarious!!! High-pitched Slayer "Aaaaaaaaaah!" scream at the beginning! Laugh-out-loud Metallica failure. I bet they didn't get laid for 3 years!"

I'M A VICTIM - "More awful growl-shouted punk-metal. Until it inexplicably turns into a slow ballad with Hammond Organ solo."

IT'S IN YOUR TOUCH - "Pretty, Byrdsy clean arpeggios, then four sad pop chords and shitty heartfelt vocals. Could've been a great song, if recorded by a different band."

There are four other songs, but come on! Am I here to bore you with the details? No! I'm a succinct man with skillful generalizing abilities! I'll just add that a few songs have fleeting bits of asskickness or melodicianship, but the only track that feels actually 'clever' (as well as being sonically enjoyable) is the 6/4-time punker "Frustrated," which finds the soundalike Rikk and Steve exchanging speedy call-response rhymes about the hassles of being a young rocker ("Radio has shut us out!/Record biz so full of doubt!/Chicks that want in on the list!/Guys who live to use their fists!/etc!"). The rest of the album belongs in the sewer with the goats.

Incidentally, Frank Agnew is pictured and listed as a band member on this release, but apparently the album was almost complete by the time he rejoined the band, so take that with a wave of grain. Don't blame Frank! He voted Mondale!

Most of the lyrics involve figures and tragedies of the L.A. hair metal scene -- runaways, ignored bands, druggie girlfriends, and (THANK GOD) tattoos. TATTOOS! It's TATTOO TIME! "Still in some places it's against the law/What's wrong with such a beautiful art?/Damn, I can't wait 'til the next convention/Show and be shown crucial tatt collections!/Oh yeah!" By any other band, this would be a brilliant piece of satire. Unfortunately, it's pretty clear that Rikk "Check out the tattoo of a heart on my... well, heart" Agnew is dead serious. Whereas his career is just DEAD! I'm SERIOUS! YAHOO SERIOUS! GOOGLE ME! See, it's important to think of words that relate to each other in different ways, and then post them on the Internet.

This album sucks so bad, it's like a vacuum cleaner with a dog stuck in it.

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Return To The Black Hole - Triple X 1997
Rating = 7

Hey how come Bryan Adams had a hit single with that gross song about wackin off, you know "I got my first real G-string down at the five and dime/Wore it til my anus bled, then gave myself a 69" i can't believe america would elect that guy president of the radio I'm sure glad I don't live here.

This is a reunion LIVE cd featuring the all-ogirinal line-up in 1989 pretending that Uncle Funkal Zone never happened. Instead, they play 10 of the 13 debut songs -- all but "I Hate Children," "Democracy" and "No Friends" (their first live album skipped "I Hate Children" because they'd grown to like children and "Democracy" because Steve wrote it with a non-Adolescent, but now they're skipping "No Friends" too because they made a friend in 1988 and were pretty excited about it) -- plus 2 of those awful Welcome To Reality songs, 4 additional Brats In Battalions songs, and a flaccid Kinks cover. In other words, there are only THREE songs on here that weren't already on the last live album ("All Day And All Of The Night," "I Love You" and "Brats In Batallions"). In fact, I'd bitterly call this a pointless rip-off if it weren't such a fun and energetic set. But alack, it is!

Raw playing, fast tempos, great drum sound, high energy, friendly silly stage patter, classic songs - it's hard not to like! Interestingly, the first album's metal influence is much more evident here, due to Tony's gravelly voice and the newly metallic guitar tones. This doesn't hurt the songs though, aside from "Who Is Who," which comes across more macho than desperate in this context. More importantly, they all sound like they're having a fantastic time onstage, swapping inside jokes back and forth and just being big ol' galloots.

For example:

One Band Member: "Hey! In case nobody told you, we're recording this for a live album! But we won't sell out like Sham did!"
Other Band Member: "'L.A. Girl,' take one."

(after a particularly messy, unkempt song conclusion) "Yeah. That's how to end the song."

Tony to crowd: "I don't care if you sing along, but don't take my mic. Or I will KILL YOU!"

(before "All Day And All Of The Night"): "We wrote this song back in the sixties..."

Other comments of interest - "Brats In Battalions" is dedicated to The Hard-Ons, and "Rip It Up" to Jeff Dahl. Also, during the "Wrecking Crew" intro, Tony opines, "Can't find no girls, cuz they're out chasing cheap plastic heroes - like Guns N Fuckin Roses, buncha shit!" Could this be his statement against the hair metal Balboa Fun Zone Adolescents? Eh? Mmm? Ooh? Feel free to use those noises during your next orgasm.

Reader Comments
That Bryan Adams rewrite had me on the fucking floor.

I was kinda disappointed when I put on self-titled...."I hate Children" rocked, if with a slightly generic riff, then it moved onto "Who is Who" and "Wrecking Crew" also great but not that fast, leaving me scratching my head; "This is hardcore??" However, once I got into the meat of the album, I realised songs like "Kids of the Black Hole", "No Way" and "Amoeba" were among the best punk songs I had ever heard, or will hear. You were right, this is totally essential stuff, but I'll be avoiding their other stuff if Welcome to Reality is anything to go by. My CD certainly didn't come with Rikk Agnew's album, though.

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Live At The House Of Blues DVD - Kung Fu 2004
Rating = 8

This 2003 live reunion features almost the entire original line-up blaring through every Adolescents track except "I Hate Children" (Tony has children now - come on, why hurt their feelings?), along with two Welcome To Reality dungboats and only goddamned throwaway "Do The Freddy" to otherwise represent Brats In Battalions. But more excitingly than all ---- they play FIVE NEW SONGS! Five CATCHY new songs that would soon be on a brand new studio album called O.C. Confidential! But let's discuss the DVD for the moment.

It's great. It's a great, great, great DVD for one key reason -- the creators of the disc included not only this live show from 2003, but a scratchy black-and-white video tape of the ORIGINAL Adolescents playing a live show in 1982! Being a glutton for rewardery, I began my DVD adventure with the early video. There they were -- bushy-haired Rikk Agnew doing arrogant cock rock moves like a young Joe Perry, Tony (or possibly not Tony, but you didn't hear it here) looking like a skinny drugged-up retard who can't keep his body from shaking up and down, Steve being a large young man, Frank staying in one spot in the back with his cool "drooping down into my eye" skater hairstyle and Casey handling all the stage patter from behind the drums (including a sarcastic dedication to John Belushi, who apparently had died this very same day). So I watched, I enjoyed, I thought, "Wow! They really WERE adolescents! Look at those skinny little kids (and Steve) playing that great punk rock music!" Then it was time to watch the 2003 show.

First things first, the band has become a bunch of lardasses. It's not surprising that Steve got a little bigger; he at least looks much cleaner and more mature than he used to. But, as Frank points out several times during the commentary, Tony quite literally looks pregnant -- and Rikk Agnew seems to have eaten an entire elephant at some point during the previous two decades. He has become a huge, sweaty, fat PIG of a kickass guitar god rocker! The whole thing would have made me feel really horrible about the perils of age if not for the svelte form of Frank Agnew in the background with his spikey bleached young person hairstyle and polka-diamond-dotted shirt.

Casey Royer does not appear in the reunion concert, for drug-related reasons unknown to me.

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OC Confidential - Finger 2005
Rating = 7

Here's something hilarious you can do the next time you're out purchasing a handkerchief. When the salesperson comes by to show you the store collection, excitedly proclaim, "I'm flabbergasteried by your haberdashery!"

The best thing about being an old bag is that shit just doesn't matter anymore. What do the Adolescents have to prove? In 1986, they had to prove that they could make a worthy successor to the classic Adolescents LP (they couldn't). In 1989, they had to prove that they were as cool as Guns N' Fucken Roses (they weren't). But by 2005, they were all 50 years old with careers and families and other bands, so who GIVES a shit if anybody likes their new album or not?

As such, rather than worrying about living up to any listener expectations, they felt free to write and record a set of melodic midtempo punk songs (or uptempo rock songs, depending on how you categorize these things) that THEY enjoyed. It's the same deal as that Page/Plant album everybody hates but me -- they didn't bother trying to give their fans Led Zeppelin Part II: The Sequel To Led Zeppelin; they just recorded songs that felt honest and right to them. Ditto for the Adolegoddamnedescents! The result is their first studio release since Adolescents to be worthy of the name "Adolegoddamnedescents."

Because I was sent a disc-only promo and the Internet is no help at all, I'm not sure whether or not Rikk Agnew plays on this thing. I know that Frank, Steve and Tony do, along with former Social Distortion drummer Derek O'Brien, but I also know that Frank's son (cleverly entitled "Frank Jr.") also played with the band for a while, and he is credited as co-writing the title track. So if anybody has the CD booklet and could clear this up, that would RIP! That would RIP my JUNK!

On the downer side, the songs are neither super-innovative (being mostly basic chord sequences) nor mega-aggressive (being mostly all the same speed - 'fast' for normal rock but 'midtempo' for punk/hardcore). However, they are ultra-melodic. Tony's voice has aged like a fine cheese and he can even hit proper notes now when he tries to. More importantly, the background harmony vocals are gorgeous on this release; obviously realizing the strength of this asset, the band even has the harmonies sing LEAD on one song! (the very pretty "Guns Of September")! Furthermore, the guitar tones are neither crunchy metally nor raw punky, but pristinely high-tech chorus-distorted for potential punk radio airplay. For comparison, think of the Circle Jerks' Oddities Abnormalities And Curiosities, but with the added bonus of songs that don't suck dick out loud in the middle of a driving range.

Actually, a better comparison might be those three Bad Religion albums they recorded after Mr. Brett left the band to smoke cocaine. Remember how they were slower-tempoed than the band's earlier (or later) releases, but still delightfully melodic and easy-on-the-ears with that smooth radio-ready distortion tone? That's the kind of approach you'll find here. The chord sequences run the gamut from happy and anthemic to dark and emotional, with only a couple of unfortunate lapses into dumb tuff-metal ("Within These Walls") and over-cheery corniness ("Where The Children Play"). Most importantly, the songs feel mature, sincere and appropriate for men this age. Much like "Rough Justice," a song about fucking that Mick Jagger wrote when he was 9,000 years old.

Adults-only topics addressed by Mr. Reflex in his excellent, intelligent lyrics include:

Spiritual need - "I asked a priest about the mystery/Why this heart of darkness consumes me/Merciful mother, the misery/What have I done that he'd forsake me?"

The economic costs of war - "Work a 60 hour week/Still can't pay the rent/Tax away my wages/To bomb another tent"

The emotional costs of war - "Ten years have passed/Since the guns of September/Ten years have passed/Don't cry, don't cry /Don't cry, it's thunder"

The death penalty - "Lock him in a cell/Strip him of his rights/One latch a time/March him up a hill/Strip him of his soul/One latch at a time"

Genetically modified crops - "You'll seed your fields/How we tell you to/You'll feed your cows/What we sell to you/Inject growth hormone/Into the seed you sow/You'll eat and feed and seed/But never know/How far the tentacles reach/From the greed that feeds inside/How far the invasion sweeps/Monsanto"

Terrorism - "Fanatics on a mission, it's impossible to tell/Where the last batch of FDA poison fell/To justify their vision is a pretty tough sell/Twin towers blew all our dreams to hell"

The Old Guard of Punk Rock - "A pointless teenage anthem/Is what they expect from me/To hold on to the youth they lost/In 1983/A pointless teenage anthem/To keep the old school young/So they can slam around and round/Lament what they've become/A pointless teenage anthem/Really shouldn't be too tough/I've written fifty other ones/More than enough!"

Tattoos!!! - "I really take pride in my skin illustrations!Unite and be proud, for we're the tattooed generation!/ /Well come on everybody, let's get a tattoo!/It's TATTOO TIME!!!!"

Oh heck, wrong ablum. Where is Rikk "Buffoon Of Flab" Agnew when you need his insightful non-wit?

By the way, The Adolescents (Tony, Frank, Steve, Derek and "Matty Beldt" -- pseudonym for Paul McCartney??!!) are supposedly working on a new album due out in Spring 2008. So keep an eye out for that, especially since "Matty Beldt" (Paul McCartney!!!) is their new guitar player. Keep up the good work, Adolescents (and 1/4 Beatles, in the form of Paul McCartney!!!)

Reader Comments
We all wish our favorite bands could do a comeback record that will measure up to the high standard of their "classic" albums. This album perhaps comes the closest to the original vision, but after a few listens it just don't have the hooks of the Blue Album. The production is way too tidy and polite, and the NOTICEABLE absence of one Rikk Agnew makes the guitars one dimensional sounding. With so many bands aping that style in the last 15 years, the Adolescents of today are sorta lost in a pile Epitaph-style Cali-melodi-punk knockoffs. You have to applaud them still doing the band though, they obviously "rip it up" on the House Of Blues dvd from a couple years ago. Derek O'Brien is a perfect fit since he practically invented the OC drumming style, and if they can just keep that dikk named Rikk in the group, everyone appreciates his shtikk, that might do the trikk!

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