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Often in times of emotional and political turmoil I reach for the sacred truth in music to carry me through and out of the darkness into the light.  I believe it was Bob Dylan who summed it up for us all when he sang:

Ameoba Ameoba Ameoba Ameoba
Ameoba Ameoba Ameoba Ameoba
Ameoba Ameoba Ameoba Ameoba
Ameoba Ameoba Ameoba Ameoba


Like he wished he did! Suck it up ancient Minnesotan dude! This is The Adolescents! They give me all the punk beans and juice I need tonight.  ‘Amoeba’ is my fave track on it too – just a great uncomplicated old school punk blast, melodic and fast as hell.  The hi-hat work by drummer Casey Royer is awesome and the guitar solos that Frank and Rikk Agnew peel off are straight rock and roll licks, slow it down a notch and any number of hard rockers would be queueing up to own this beauty.

Mutating out of the Orange County scene, three of ’em were in the early version of Social Distortion, The Adolescents spat out this game-changing LP in 1981 only a few months after the holy text that is Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables and you could argue that the Adolescents had a wider-reaching effect and legacy than the Dead Kennedys, even.  The first wave of Californian bands had crashed against the shore and broken apart, not doing an awful lot visibly, but setting in train a fervid, fervent, ferollwing that would quickly become one of the great punk scenes.  The Adolescents rode this wave at an almost indecently young age – they actually look like adolescents* on the back cover, they cut The Adolescents in four days and then did the decent thing, effectively splitting up months later.

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It took me years to track this little beggar down in the pre-internet age, I really can’t remember exactly where and how I heard about it but I remember wanting it a lot for years and finally getting my mitts on a copy in 2004.  I wasn’t disappointed.  By that time The Adolescents was being lauded as the root cause and blueprint for the So-Cal punk scene that swept all before it in the late 90’s. Okay so they aren’t the only progenitors of Green Day et. al but you listen to the barrelling, nasty ‘Creatures’ and tell me you can’t hear all the best bits of that band’s career in it; I like Green Day but I wish that they had borrowed a bit more of the snot and spite along with the chord progressions and melodies**.

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From the opening drawling, let’s offend some folks, ‘I Hate Children’^, through their paeans to their own scene (‘Wrecking Crew’) and kiss offs to other regional scenes (‘L.A Girl’), the Adolescents charge head down at any target they can find; as well as doing that one about single-celled organisms.  It’s all great – I love the fast ones, the slightly slower, menacing ones and, hell just all of it.  The playing is anything but throwaway and, umm, adolescent.  The rhythm section of Steve Soto and Casey Royer are great, managing to sound drilled and on the money without sounding too rehearsed and the Agnew boys’ guitar lines are just huge^^, melodic punk rock at its’ best.  Add in Tony Cadena’s tone-perfect snotty/whiney/raspy vocals and the Adolescents were a real force to reckon with – I just really wish they’d been able to hold it all together for long enough to record a follow up to The Adolescents.  Ah well, some bands are just fireworks I guess.

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Mind you they’d have found it hard to top their very own epic, ‘Kids From The Black Hole’, which at 5:27 is their ‘Stairway to Heaven’.  It’s at once a furious celebration and a lament for a punk house rented by Mike Ness (of Social Distortion) and a hang-out for all the young punks:

Messages and slogans are the primary decor
History’s recorded in a clutter on the floor
Inhabitants that searched the grounds for roaches or spare change
Another night of chaos is so easy to arrange

I love the way ‘Kids …’ starts with a few sad lines mourning its’ passing, everything good fades and ends folks – before the band tear into documenting the chaos and debauchery within.  Overall though its as subtle as a nick in the kuts, a great churning pile-on of a track.  Tremendous fun.

So what I’m saying is that The Adolescents is a great, fun, angry LP – just the way I like ’em and it makes me feel better, briefly, about the state of the world I have to live in.

671 Down.

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*I like this level of band naming simplicity and honesty, unlike, for example Children of Bodom who aren’t children, or the Black Crowes who disappoint me daily by being really caucasian and not crow(e)s, at all in any way.  And don’t get me started on Blind Melon!!

**contains the TOTALLY adolescent lines (Stop reading now please ladies and tend to your knitting/other domestic tasks) ‘The chicks are hot and full of cheers / They say “no” so I jerk white tears’.

^I far prefer their mooted sequel ‘I Hate Baby Seal Pups Too’ and the demoed-but-never-recorded pair of, ‘Ewoks Can Just Fuck Off’ and ‘Cushions? As If!’

^^the fast, jagged soloing on ‘No Friends’ is worth the price of admission alone.



24 thoughts on “Ameobaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

  1. Joe I’m always intrigued by what people listen to in different contexts – I’ve been drawn to more ‘sad bastard’ music when I was feeling down about the state of things. But things sounds like a better prescription!

    1. I’m much more of a Grrrr! type of guy at the moment. I’ve never liked mopey music much, I like my pessimism wrapped up in a jaunty tune.

  2. This is exactly the kind of stuff you need to kick against the pricks! It all feels okay after a blast of this stuff …

    Though I’m with JH and the mad, mad, beautiful world of the Claypool Lennon Delirium. It’s the sound of another realm. And it’s all candy and suchlike. Come over! Leave this rotting piñata and join the fruity candy realm!

      1. I’m the ‘Oowie-Zoowie’ type. If you change your mind and drop the ‘Grrrr’ the door is open to leave the madness behind for, eh, some bonkersness.

  3. ‘I hate children’ is a marvellous song title. Shame Tim Minchin couldn’t work it in to his ‘Matilda’ score. Would have worked a treat for Miss Trunchball.
    (We went to the show last Friday – excellent!)

    1. I know, for real obnoxiousness it hits an A. Mrs 1537 and my heirs saw it in London a couple of weeks ago and came home raving about how good it was.

  4. You know, whatever helps you get through the muck we’re currently living in. I’d not heard The Adolescents before today, so you once again amaze me at your American punk knowledge.

    I’ve been steeping my brain in The Claypool Lennon Delirium as of late. It’s like going into some strange alternate universe. It’s much better than the current universe I reside in.

    1. Damn, I thought they presented everyone with an Adolescents LP as soon as they graduated junior high. Maybe living in the USA isn’t as cool as all those punk rock books I read made it sound.

      Is the Claypool Lennon album basically a mind-altering substance?

      1. It’s not nearly as cool as those books made it seem to be, sadly. In fact, I’m not sure what USA they were talking about. I mean, I guess D.C. is really its own world so I could understand that, but for the most part they’re all lies. Fantastical lies.

        Yes. It is most definitely a mind-altering substance, but in the best way possible.

  5. I’m not sure exactly what I’m listening to, but I could swear that’s a young Duff McKagan on lead vocals.

    This is good! The backing vocals remind me of this punk classic by the Queen Haters:

    I’m not saying it’s a rip off…I’m just saying!

    Fucking great little psychedelic surf rock-ish guitar solos too. This is good stuff man! I like what you say about Green Day with both the snot AND the chord progressions.

    1. I’d never seen that before, its just genius!

      Glad you like ’em, they’re just the sort of punk that filtered down the sewer long enough in California to leave traces in the likes of GNR. I think they were seriously good rockers too – I’ll rewrite my review and add in the bit about ‘surf rock-ish guitar solos’ to make it look like I thought of that.

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