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Album Review

As much as I love Agent Orange, I'm not sure I understand this release. The new, opening "It's All a Blur" is welcome, just the sort of surf/mod punk-pop they've done so well for so long, in a genre they created and have had to themselves for 20 years. Ditto the cover of the Weirdos' punk cruncher "Message From the Underworld" they've been covering live for a few years, and another fine original, the floor-tom-thumping "What's the Combination?" Bully! But we've been waiting for a new studio LP — which would only be their fourth in all that time — since 1996's Virtually Indestructible, and these three songs could have been the building blocks towards that. Instead, the other 10 songs are rerecordings of songs off those earlier records, the definition of pointless.

Of course, it's pointless, but not worthless. It's a different lineup now, with the great Mike Palm backed by Sam Bolle on bass and Steve Latanation on drums. And so it's interesting and fun to hear new, speeded-up-tempo slam-throughs of "Say It Isn't True," "Tearing Me Apart," "I Kill Spies," and their certified classics "Bloodstains" (the Offspring admitted they stole this for the blockbuster "Come Out and Play") and "Everything Turns Grey." But the original versions are all better, if not horribly so, so you're left wishing they'd used that studio time to record Palm's new material, whatever he's composed in four years of solid touring, instead.

Get this for sure, though, if you already have the others, or if you absolutely can't find them. It's like a studio-quality version of their live sets, and Palm singing great material is always an enormous pleasure. (13428 Maxella Ave. #251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292; info@agentorange.net)

Biography

Formed: 1979 in Fullerton, CA

Genre: Dance

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

Punk to the core, yet with audible influences from early heavy metal and surf rock, Agent Orange formed in Fullerton, California at the end of the '70s, with vocalist/guitarist Mike Palm, bassist James Levesque, and drummer Scott Miller. The first Agent Orange record, released in 1981 on Posh Boy Records in the midst of Southern California's already hectic hardcore community, cemented their reputation as one of the best skate-punk bands around the area. Two EPs during the next few years were all...
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Greatest & Latest: This, That-N-The Other Thing, Agent Orange
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