ADOLESCENTS: LIVE 1981 & 1986 (1981, 1986; 1989)
1) Amoeba; 2) Who Is Who; 3) No Friends; 4) Welcome To Reality; 5) Self Destruct; 6) Things Start Moving; 7) Word Attack; 8) Losing Battle; 9) I Got A Right; 10) No Way; 11) The Liar; 12) Rip It Up; 13) L. A. Girl; 14) Wrecking Crew; 15) Creatures; 16) Kids Of The Black Hole.
Originally released as sort of a last goodbye for the band, perhaps to refreshen the memories of those who were too disillusioned with the aimless meandering of Balboa Fun Zone — to remind that, no matter what, the Adolescents ripped it up on stage both in 1981 and 1986, even if their studio avatars were widely different in those two periods.
The two setlists are quite intelligently trimmed, so that not a single song gets repeated; as a result, what you get is the eponymous album reproduced almost completely, plus all three songs off the accompanying EP Welcome To Reality, later re-recorded in somewhat different manners for Brats In Battalions, and just a tiny handful of original songs from Brats, so as not to darken your day by juxtaposing the majorly classic with the mildly competent.
Sound quality is fairly decent for club recording level (not to mention that a live hardcore performance hardly begs for a super-professional hi-fi sheen), and, of course, the band fully justifies its live reputation by playing it all even faster and uglier than it was in the studio (although in terms of pure speed, it does not look like they ever set out to beat the Ramones' record). The downside is that the vocal harmonies, on those few songs where they do matter, sound terrible ('Amoeba'), and that some of the anthemic numbers do not quite deliver the concentrated, thick, knock-over punch that is their main purpose ('Kids Of The Black Hole').
But as pure neighbor-annoying musical hooliganry (not to mention priceless historical document), it works fine enough. The band intentionally tries to present itself as being much dumber than they really are (first «joke» on the 1986 performance: "Good evening, we're the Bangles!... I'm into the Bangles, Ma! I'm in love with Sue!"), which sort of ties in well with the eponymous album material, but can also be irritating to those who see the Adolescents as something more than, well, adolescents — proceed at your own risk.
Whatever be, the Adolescents rock live. Guitar work is fine, up to the Agnews' usual intricacy level, Tony's screaming is ideal hardcore, what else is there to say? If you're an admirer, go get it. If you're not, it won't hurt too bad to try and become one. Thumbs up.
Check "Live 1981 & 1986" (CD) on Amazon