Return to the Black Hole

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Return to the Black Hole once again shows that reunions can be as hot hot hot as Guatemala in July -- if the right lineup is reconstructed. And that's a key. This December 1989 show at the Country Club in the L.A. Valley town of Reseda featured all five original Adolescents members that had originally blitzed Tinseltown with the classic, self-titled first LP and the Welcome to Reality EP eight years before. Not only does Return present a group of not-so-adolescent late twenty-somethings who play their instruments better than in the band's old days -- the sheer glee of firing off together again is evident. This rips. This shreds. This blasts. You don't even need to know that this group helped kick off the second wave of punk in Southern California; having initially been outsold only by the Dead Kennedys, they were as popular as Circle Jerks, Black Flag, T.S.O.L., Youth Brigade, Channel 3, Agent Orange, and the young Social Distortion and Bad Religion. All you have to do is take in the might of the soaring leads more or less pioneered by Rikk Agnew and his brother Frank, even more thick and stinging live, and you understand. The Agnews' string munchings roar through the best songs here: the majestic "No Way," the manic "Who Is Who," the martial "Welcome to Reality," and the epics "Creatures" and "Kids of the Black Hole." Throughout, the Agnews' devilish sense of melody is well-served by Tony Cadena's guttural growl. And though it's hard to stand his mates way off on the key harmony of "Amoeba," it's the only rust the quintet shows. In the end, the only bad thing about this CD is how bad you'll want to see, and not just hear, this loud, proud concert.

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