AGENT ORANGE: GREATEST & LATEST: THIS, THAT-N-THE OTHER THING (2000)
1) It's All A Blur; 2) Say It Isn't True; 3) Breakdown; 4) Wouldn't Last A Day; 5) Everything Turns Grey; 6) Message From The Underworld; 7) Eldorado; 8) Tearing Me Apart; 9) Cry For Help In A World Gone Mad; 10) I Kill Spies; 11) Bloodstains; 12) What's The Combination?; 13) Bite The Hand That Feeds.
No one knows why this record exists. It's not like the band owed anybody any contractual obligations. There are three new songs here: the originals 'It's All A Blur' and 'What's The Combination?' are decent, crunchy, speedy riff-rockers in the vein of Virtually Indestructible, and 'Message From The Underworld' is a cover version, recorded as tribute to a nearly-forgotten, but quite pioneering punk band from the West Coast — the Weirdos. That's all fine, but...
...the rest is just a bunch of re-recorded versions of Mike Palm's favourite songs — a career retrospective with a penchant for unnecessary modernization, as if Palm were some sort of «George Lucas of hardcore», unhappy with the thin guitar tones and lo-fi production of the originals. I don't know, sounded quite adequate to me the first time around. Not that the re-recordings are devoid of spirit, feeling, passion, or technique, the guy still recreates the laser-like solo on 'Everything Turns Grey' as if he were presenting the song to us for the very first time. But couldn't they at least do like all good people do and release this as a live album? We can all be smartasses and state that there is really no big difference between Greatest Hits Live In The Studio and Greatest Hits Live Before A Bunch Of Passed Out Riff-Raff In A Downtown Bar, but somehow tradition has it that even a very small bunch of passed out riff-raff lends authenticity to the spontaneity — it's a whole different thing when you're playing into a glass wall.
Anyway, the good news is that, as of 2011, Agent Orange still exist and tour, meaning that this weird bastard recording may not be their very last — although, considering that more than a decade has already passed by without a new Agent Orange record, chances are getting slimmer with each new day. In the meantime, 'It's All A Blur' is worth hearing, it's like a brief confirmation that the Force still remains with these guys — oh no, not another Star Wars reference — and that, perhaps, it is better to have this teeny-weeny bit of a new millennium welcome from them than a whole new album of mediocre washed-upness. Clearly, though, spending money on this CD is only worth it if you want to set an example as the President of the Make Mike Palm A Millionnaire For Chrissake Foundation.