Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blast from the Past: 'ALL' by Descendents

Artist: Descendents (Official, MySpace, Wikipedia)
Title: ALL (Amazon, Wikipedia)

In 1987 Descendents’ lead singer Milo Aukerman decided to trade in life on the road for life in a lab and the decision was made that the band would record one last album as the Descendents before having Dave Smalley take over on vocals and becoming ALL. To aid in the transition to the band’s new name and to finally reveal the band’s philosophy to the world this final Descendents’ record was titled ALL (little did they know at the time that Milo would return to the band). This record was also the first to include Stephen Egerton on guitar and Karl Alvarez on bass.

Not only does ALL introduce us to the concept of ALL (“the total extent”) but it also shows us the direction this band would take for the next twenty plus years. While the Descendents’ had always written pop gems (“Hope” and “Silly Girl” come to mind) starting with this album the pop took precedence over the punk and surf. The songs that truly stand out on this record are brilliant pop tunes that, if the world had an ounce of musical justice, would have been huge hits. From here and with the new mantle of ALL, the band blazed a path that few have been able to follow; consistently producing record after record with timeless songs.

Now to be fair I am not at all impartial where it comes to this band or the entire ALL family of bands for that matter. I am a diehard and obsessive fan. This band’s music has, in many ways, become the soundtrack of my life. Their music is some of the only stuff that is never removed from my MP3 player but even before I had that amazing little piece of technology, not a month would go by where I wouldn’t listen to this band’s music (and I am referring to both incarnations here). With that all having been said, ALL is not a perfect record. There are some very forgettable songs, but those by no way take away from the classics (like “Pep Talk,” “Clean Sheets,” and “Coolidge”). The other thing that people need to realize is that Everything Sucks is not the follow up to ALL. The Follow up to ALL is Allroy Sez and if fans don’t listen to the ALL records then they will miss not only a ton of great music, but they will not hear how the band transitioned and grew in those nearly 10 years in between releases under the Descendents moniker.

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