CD Reviews

Various Artists
O.C.'s 5400 Day Revolution: 20 Years of Orange County Music
Superkool Records

Patrick Brink is a pretty obsessive guy—enough to want to spend several years of his life working on O.C.'s 5400 Day Revolution, a documentary film about the past two decades of Orange County music, which is expected to be finished in early fall.

It's the kind of overly ambitious thing everybody talks about but no one ever does. Except Brink has. And this companion two-CD set, which is now in record stores countywide, is easily the best, most comprehensive attempt at chronicling just what the hell's been going on down here since 1979.

Listen to: O.C.'s 5400 Day Revolution
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Download the RealPlayer FREE! Which doesn't mean that this is yet another punk or ska compilation—two genres that people who don't live here apparently still think rule over all. We know better, and so does Brink: after a trio of tunes by the Cadillac Tramps, US Bombs and Agent Orange—three punk-leaning bands you would expect on a historical compilation—Brink throws on a loosey-goosey roots track from the Sun Demons (which was recorded live at Linda's Doll Hut back in '96—see? He has been working on this for a while).

There are a bunch of punk and ska bands on Revolution, but mostly it's just good old rock & roll, however you want to define it. As history, you really can't find anything better: 47 songs from 47 bands who've helped define, for better or worse, what passes as the OC "sound," stretching from the Crowd's "Modern Machine" (which was recorded at the Cuckoo's Nest in '79) to Jeffries Fan Club's "21 Love Stories" (which was cut live on Tazy Phyllipz's Ska Parade radio show this past January). And even though several tracks, particularly the older punk songs, are almost one-fifth of a century old, they still sound really fresh and vital when placed among stuff that was cut just a few years ago.

There's no Social Distortion or No Doubt or the Offspring here, not even any Adolescents, Vandals or TSOL. But that's not Brink's point, which is to highlight the more underground, neglected local bands who always seem to go ignored. The punk bands (Agent Orange, the Crowd, 46 Short), the pent-up hardcore bands (Final Conflict, Uniform Choice, Litmus Green) and the just-plain-scary bands (Enewetak) somehow sound perfectly natural shoved up against the ska and ska-derived bands (My Superhero, the Nuckle Brothers, SFD) and the large majority of rock & roll songs, all of which have deserved a brighter spotlight than what they've had, like 4Gazm's "She's My," Tex Twil's "Star Taxi Driver," Big Drill Car's vast improvement on Billy Joel's "Big Shot," Eli Riddle's "Shellfish," the Imperials' politically driven Rasta stomp "Prophecy," and National People's Gang's "On Paper." Then there's all the choice, never-before-released nuggets, like the Goods' "Clock Keeps a-Ticking" and the Women's "Action."

You probably won't love everything on Revolution's two-plus-hours-long compilation (and I challenge anyone to drool over Larry's "Dark & Scary," a perfectly good waste of five minutes that'll just leave you wondering what the hell they were smoking), but pick up two copies, keep one for yourself, and mail the other to your snooty friends back East who can't understand why you're still living in OC. One listen to Revolution, and they'll know why. (Rich Kane)

Adrian Legg
Fingers and Thumbs
Red House Records

Unlike the Eddie Van Halens and Yngwie Malmsteens of the world, neo-folkie Adrian Legg has made a name for himself not with egotistical note spinning, but by actually communicating with his guitar. Frequently plunging into uncharted waters—like Richard Thompson or Leo Kottke—the British acoustic ace can dazzle with clean, crisply played notes that eloquently communicate his wealth of ideas. He just rarely does so here. The biggest problem with Fingers and Thumbs, especially measured against his brilliant 1990 disc Guitar and Other Cathedrals, is the filler that bogs things down. "Tiddles," a silly little poem inspired by the death of his aunt's unlucky kitty, never rises above novelty status. "Mdrundgum" (don't ask) offers nearly five minutes of percussive, synth and wah-wah effects. And "(Pace Doc)," which clocks in at a mere one and one-half minutes, never gathers any steam. There are moments of grandeur here. With its galloping rhythms and cinematic sweep, "McPherson" makes you want to ride off into a Texas sunset, or at least wish you were an extra corpse in a John Ford Western. And the melodic lines of "Cradle Song" are irresistibly snappy. Plus, a couple of tunes—a rootsy thing called "Lunchtime at Rosie's" and the well-meaning "Hymn to Jaco"—are mildly intriguing. But should we not expect more from a virtuoso? (John Roos)

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