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Live 1981 and 1986

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Album Review

The title says it all, even if the liner notes don't quite indicate where one set of shows ends and the other begins. Capturing the two major existences of the original band during the '80s, in hyperbrattish debut-album days and slightly more calm (but only just) Balboa Fun Zone times, in all cases the Adolescents rip through things with energy and attitude to burn, and come out winners each time. Fidelity isn't always the best, but it's much better than many tapes out there, with more emphasis on the treble than anything (though Soto's underrated bass-playing abilities come out more clearly here than on the original album, actually!). Unsurprisingly starting with a rip-roaring take on the deathless "Amoeba," the 1981 tracks capture the fivesome (average age: 18) kicking out the jams with the best of them, with a brace of tracks (including a not-bad snarl through Iggy's "I Got a Right") rapidly disposed of one after the other, following terse introductions, if any. The versions of the three songs from the Welcome to Reality EP sound much more fun than the studio takes, so losing Rikk Agnew before the recording of that release really did have an effect. The 1986 performances throw in a couple of tunes from Balboa, but otherwise revisit the first-album days with spirit, not to mention including some funny between-song asides (introductory words: "Hi! We're the Bangles!"). The renamed Tony Montana adds a great little essay about the history of the band with the liner notes, including some classic stories (being beaten up in high school for singing in a punk band, for one) with the basic history. As both slice of life and straight-up music, Live is a keeper.


Formed: 1980 in Fullerton, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of Southern California's best-loved hardcore bands, the Adolescents helped establish the blueprint for Orange County punk, along with Agent Orange and Social Distortion. Although their music was the most standard-issue of the three, the Adolescents' blazing energy and quintessential teenage snottiness gave them an instant connection with their audience, and defied their upbringing in California's bastion of staid conservatism. Their original lineup was only together briefly, and the majority...
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Live 1981 and 1986, Adolescents
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