Adolescents (The Blue Album)
1981 – Frontier Records
Tony Cadena – Vocals
Casey Royer – Drums
Rikk Agnew – Guitar
Frank Agnew – Guitar
Steve Soto – Bass
01 – I Hate Children
02 – Who Is Who
03 – Wrecking Crew
04 – L.A. Girl
05 – Self Destruct
06 – Kids of the Black Hole
07 – No Way
08 – Amoeba
09 – Word Attack
10 – Rip It Up
11 – Democracy
12 – No Friends
13 – Creatures
What can you say about this album that most everybody doesn’t already know?
Well, for starters it’s one of the best punk albums out of Los Angeles ever made.
I bought this LP back in 1981, after hearing Amoeba on the first Rodney On The ROQ album, on Posh Boy Records. Still to this day Amoeba is a real fun song.
I hadn’t listened to this album in about twenty years. After years of moving, and relocating, my copy was long gone. So, my Brother, and I went to Amoeba Records (there’s a joke in here somewhere) on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. And I was set on trying to restock some of my old collection. I picked up an import by Blitz, The Adolescents album, and an Angry Samoans album (it sucks). I have to say at the first listening all the lyrics came back to me and it took me back almost thirty years.
I got the chance to listen to it again the other night. I got a call from my oldest nephew saying his family was getting on his nerves, and he needed to get out of the house. So, I figured since no one is in the car with me to whine about my musical tastes, I’d pop in the Adolescents, and take the drive across town. I pick up my nephew, and turn the music down, and we start talking, and he starts commenting on the music, telling me that this song, and that song is in this video game, and this other song is on My Space. In our short drive I went from feeling nostalgic, to feeling very contemporary. As much as I love old hardcore, I never thought it would’ve ever fit in the video game world.
All thirteen songs are great. The stand-out cuts are Wrecking Crew, Kids of the Black Hole, Rip It Up, and of course Amoeba. All the instruments are played flawlessly, and on L.A. Girl, and I Hate Children you can hear Tony doing a bit of a Darby Crash snarl; it’s not a rip-off, more of a tribute.
The Adolescents were formed in 1980 in Fullerton, at the border of Orange County. Lead vocalist Tony Cadena (aka Montana, Adolescent, and Reflex) joined up with bassist Steve Soto, who’d just left Agent Orange. They recruited guitarist Frank Agnew (who’d just left an early lineup of Social Distortion), guitarist John O’Donovan, and drummer Peter Pan (seriously). This lineup split-up quickly, and the latter two were replaced by guitarist Rikk Agnew (Frank’s brother) and drummer Casey Royer; both had been playing in the Detours, and both had also been original members of Social Distortion. Later that year, the group issued the classic single “Amoeba” on Posh Boy Records; the track also appeared, as I mentioned, on the first Rodney on the ROQ compilation, assembled by DJ Rodney Bingenheimer.
The Adolescents’ self-titled debut album was released on Frontier Records in 1981, and quickly became the one of the best-selling California hardcore albums of all time. Despite its success, Rikk Agnew left the band by the end of the year; he recorded a solo LP for Frontier, All by Myself, on which he played all the instruments, and also joined Christian Death, playing on their debut album, Only Theatre of Pain, in 1982. He was replaced very briefly by ex-Germs guitarist Pat Smear, then by Royer’s roommate Steve Roberts. With Roberts, the quintet recorded a three-song EP, Welcome to Reality; however, the group had already broke-up by the time it was released in the fall of 1982. Royer concentrated on fronting D.I., which expanded to include Rikk Agnew once his stint in Christian Death had ended. Soto, and Frank Agnew both joined Legal Weapon, while Cadena formed a new group called the Abandoned.
In 1986, the version of the Adolescents that had recorded the group’s lone album reunited for a series of shows around Los Angeles. They soon began working on new material, but before long, Royer returned to D.I., and Frank Agnew left as well. Sandy Hansen replaced them on drums and the Agnew’s younger brother Alfie on guitar. This lineup recorded the comeback album Brats in Battalions, which was eventually released in 1987 on the band’s own label; by that time, Alfie Agnew had departed for college, to be replaced by Dan Colburn. After touring for most of 1987, both Colburn and lead singer Cadena left as well.
Rikk Agnew, and Steve Soto decided to share lead vocal duties, and kept the band going. They recruited guitarist Paul Casey, who left after a few months of touring; a returning Frank Agnew replaced him. This lineup recorded 1988′s Balboa Fun Zone, on Triple X, which deviated from the group’s trademark style, but won some praise nonetheless. The Adolescents broke up again. In April 1989 Triple X issued the split LP Live 1981 and 1986. Soto, Hansen, and Frank Agnew formed Joyride, which released two albums in the early 1990s, though Agnew left almost immediately. Rikk Agnew resumed his solo career, and also toured with Christian Death’s reunited original lineup. Also in the early ’90s, Cadena, Royer, and Rikk Agnew started performing together as ADZ, releasing an album together in 1995; Cadena was the only one who stayed on, and kept ADZ going into the new millennium, eventually with help from Frank Agnew.
Now, if you could remember which members are still around, and what groups they were originally members of you win this weeks’ no prize.
If you don’t own it go and buy it, stop reading! Go buy it.
Rating: *** three out of three stars
On to the story:
In the Summer of 1982, my Mother, Brother, and I are walking into a record shop on Ventura Blvd, in Encino, CA, called Big Ben’s. Big Ben’s has been closed now for a good twenty something years. Anyway, my Mother, and Brother go walking into the store, and I’m straggling behind in an Agent Orange t-shirt – just as I get to the door two long-haired Beavis and Butthead type guys come walking out, and start mad-dogging me, they start flexing up like their going to fight me. So, I stand there until I know what’s going to happen, then one of the guy’s starts yelling the words to Amoeba at me, then they walk away, and yell back at me “What?” I remember telling my Mom this story once I get inside, and she told me “If they hate punk so much, why do they know the lyrics to this punk song?” I look back now, it’s because we were different. You mock what’s different, but if the music is good . . . you have no choice, but to sing along. And these boneheads knew the song was good.
I remember my Father telling me once around the time I was first getting into punk, about a time in the late 1960’s. My Father bought this chopper from the set of the Billy Jack movie Born Losers. It was a three-wheeled chopper with a seat where the tank ends, and a chair above the rear axles. Anyway, My Mom and Dad are riding back from a party, and they’re on the highway, and this redneck in a pick-up truck starts tailing them, and eventually he moves into the lane next to them, and slowly inches closer and closer until they flip the bike into a ditch off the side of the road. Now, I don’t know if my Father told me this story to warn me: If you look different be prepared for a fight, or it was just a bit of reminiscing. Either way, walking into Big Ben’s that day the story came back to me.
LIFE WON’T WAIT will be out August 2013, reserve a copy today: http://tiny.cc/rutyvw