Descendents Live + One

The undisputed godfathers of that oh-so-familiar SoCal melodic loser-core, which subsequently gave rise to a whole new generation of punk rockers, celebrate 20 years of making consistently enjoyable music with this two-disc set. The All disc was recorded over two nights in the band's current headquarters of Fort Collins, CO, and features 23 songs determined by fan balloting. "The whole thing started on a web site," offers burly drummer and co-founder Bill Stevenson. "So many kids were asking for one that we felt like we had to do it. We put this data base thing on there so they could vote for what songs they wanted on the record and we practised those and a few songs we wanted to throw in. The album reflects their wants and our wants. There were 40 songs on tape but some were just screwed up so bad we couldn't use them." It features, not surprisingly, All's best-known songs, which are relative to the band's virtual cult status, and a few hidden gems too. More songs, better performances and a killer mix makes this disc superior to their 1989 live effort, Trailblazer. "Trailblazer was a practical measure," recalls Stevenson. "We got these free tapes at CBGB's way back when and we only had two albums out at the time. We did this one so that we'd have something comprehensive to cover the whole era, it's a good random sampling of everything that's gone on." The Descendents disc was recorded over five nights at L.A.'s legendary Whiskey-A-Go-Go during their 1996 tour, featuring new live interpretations of old classics like "Mr. Bass" and "M-16," which were never included on the two live records Descendents put out in 1987, and live versions of tracks from their kick-ass reunion disc, Everything Sucks. But unlike most bands who simply use live albums to fulfil contractual obligations to record companies or as a way to kill time while they write new material, Stevenson and his cohorts are currently sorting out what to do with more than 40 new songs, including All and Descendents material, as well as some improvised instrumental tracks. This is an essential package for anyone who thinks Blink 182 and New Found Glory were the first ones to write punk songs about girls. (Epitaph)