Live Plus One
These two discs represent the flip sides of the All/Descendents entity. All, being the band which somehow has more stature at the moment, won the cover and the first disc of live material. The Descendents are relegated to the second disc, without the nice big cartoon graphic. The lineups are virtually identical -- indeed, the album art of the bands are the exact same graphic, only with the lead signer swapped. Listening to the music, however, reveals a sharper distinction between the two incarnations. All, being the later form, has songs which show a better overall sense of pop craftedness. The problem is that All's songs lack the primitive drive, (post-?) adolescent emotion, and angst of a Descendents track. The recordings of the Descendents, made in 1996 during the "Everything Sux" tour, show a band which can still summon up the energy first exhibited on record in 1983. Not a bad feat for a band 13 years after the fact and with two different members. The constant non-vocal section of Alvarez/Egerton/Stevenson has grown since their first lineup in 1987. This can be heard in tracks such as "Bikeage," which has a bit more tunefulness to a track that was originally surprisingly melodic for a hardcore band. Even though the Descendents already have two live records out from their mid-'80s run, this later release shows that they can still exist in fine form. All is All, and that should suit their fans, but the Descendents steal the limelight here as the more vital band, and deserves to be heard by a wider audience.