While a cursory glance through the punk rock yearbook of 1980 may garner surprisingly few results for Orange County, California, somewhere between the snot-addled racket of Agent Orange *and the blues-based snarling of *Social Distortion *you'll find a band called *The Adolescents. Formed by a group of local kids buzzing off the new-found adrenaline of the punk movement these guys were the first to mesh together the pop sensibilities of The Buzzcocks *with the whirlwind speed of local heroes *Black Flag, introducing good, fluent song-writing to a scene fast becoming tired of the same 3 chords.
Then as it is now, the O.C. was an immensely affluent district with unemployment virtually non-existent. Unlike Thatcher's Britain which reversed such prospects, it wasn't so much a desire for political emancipation as a sociological _uprising against tradition and conformity. For a bunch of bratty upstarts like The Adolescents, punk provided an anthemic backdrop for expressing their frustrations at being unable to live up to the conventional societal model: _"There's nothing to do / excitement level zero / can't find a girl / cos they're all chasing heroes" - 'Wrecking Crew'.
For a teenager sucked into the fashion-centric New York movement, these guys were seriously exciting stuff - brash, intimidating, funny and refreshingly tuneful.
Which is why this CD comes as a real disappointment.
I mean, look at it. This is a demos compilation; rehearsal sessions, early jams, false starts, fuck ups... FOUR of which were captured on a lowly tape recorder in frontman Tony Cadena's mum's garage! They're scrappy, tinny and badly-recorded, by kids who at the time could barely play (most of these were recorded in 1980). Even if it was *The Clash *or the *Sex Pistols *would you really want to sit through all this? Sure, they helped ferment the Cali sound we know and love, but unless you're an oldie who remembers them during their 'glory' days these recordings surely do more damage to their legacy than good.
As is always the case with these kind of releases there's a tendency to replace memory with nostalgia, reminiscing under the basis that anything recorded at this time is worth treasuring as history in the making, and although history may single them out as instigators of the Cali-punk movement (behind *The Detours *of course) whether it makes these crackly recordings any better to listen to is a matter of subjective opinion.
Strictly for completists and punk historians only.
3Mat Hocking's Score