Home / CD Review: Adolescents – The Complete Demos 1980-1986

CD Review: Adolescents – The Complete Demos 1980-1986

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This is snotty and fast punk in its roughest form. If you don’t believe me, take a listen to the first four tracks on this album and tell me that isn’t rough. “We Can’t Save the World”, “Black Sheep”, “Growing Up Today” and “We Rule and You Don’t” sound as if they were recorded in a garage with a cheap recorder and that’s because they were. They were actually recorded on a Realistic Cassette deck in the garage of Tony Reflex’s mom in March of 1980. These first four tracks are pretty poor quality and barely audible but they aren’t unenjoyable for the diehard fans of the Adolescents and the music collectors.

Thankfully, the quality improves with the fifth track, “I Hate Children” and just gets better from there. Fourteen of the sixteen tracks on the album were previously unreleased and includes the demo of “Amoeba”, “Creatures” and two versions of my personal favorite, “Wrecking Crew”, with Tony Reflex’s monotonous spiel of suburban dissatisfaction singing “I can’t find a girl ‘cos they’re all out chasing heroes” and leading into a burst of raw rage – “we’re just a wrecking crew bored boys with nothing to do”.

Man, immaturity never sounded so good.

Green Day can whine about their dislike of America to the MTV masses all they want, but nothing hits it home like Tony Reflex singing, “In a hopeless situation of world insanity / the millions dead thanks to man’s vanity” in “The Peasant Song”.

For the unknowledgeable, the Adolescents are one of the original snot-nosed hardcore punk bands to come out of California in the early 80’s. The original members consisted of Tony Cadena/Reflex (vocals), Steve Soto (Bass), Frank Agnew (Guitar), John O’Donovan (Guitar), and Peter Pan (Drums). Both John & Peter left and were replaced by Rikk Agnew (Guitar) and Casey Royer (Drums), both formerly of Social Distortion & The Detours. In January 1981, the band signed with Frontier Records and released the Blue Album the following month. For a more detailed biography on the band, you can visit their web site here.

The Complete Demos also contains linear notes by Tony Reflex and Steve Soto and a brief history of the band by Frank Agnew and also features the song “Richard Hung Himself”, which was supposed to be on the Welcome to Reality EP but was left off of it.

I wouldn’t suggest this album to anyone who isn’t already a fan of the Adolescents. The rawness of the songs on this collection may scare you away. If you’re new to the band, I’d suggest picking up a copy of their debut self-titled “Blue Album”. However, if you are a collector or lover of timeless and classic bratty punk rock, pick this up, like, right now, ok?

Complete track listing:
1. We Can’t Save the World
2. Black Sheep
3. Growing Up Today
4. We Rule and You Don’t
5. I Hate Children

6. No Friends
7. Who Is Who
8. Wrecking Crew
9. Wrecking Crew
10. Creatures
11. Amoeba
12. Self destrcut
13. Do The Eddie
14. Richard Hung Himself
15. The Liar
16. The Peasant Song

You can read Jones Violet’s stuff at Stolen Pony.

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About Jennifer Best