There's not a lot of songs that encapsulate living in Orange County better than “O.C. Life,” written and originally released by Adolescents guitarist Rikk Agnew in 1982. Since then it's been covered by everyone from D.I., Offspring and Zebrahead as the quintessential protest song for the antipathy that envelopes the county.
So every once in a while, we dust it off, listen to it, and marvel at how, 30 years later, all the words still ring true. “The limits of your mind is where the county line ends / Listen to the media present it all as fact / Following the lead cause you don't know how to act / Travel in a straight line cause you don't know your own way / They'll get you in the end before you know you'll have a say.”
But who did it best? After the jump, the original and three covers are analyzed side-by-side.
Rikk Agnew's original is raw yet melodic. As a guitarist, he's credited with double tracking the melodic lines on his guitar, an octave apart. Now an extremely common sound for punk bands, it was, in the early 1980s, signature Agnew. This version? Solid, angry, and brash.
D.I. covered “OC Life” in 1985 on their album Ancient Artifacts, released in 1985. This version of “OC Life” is sped up and more frenetic, but a still a very faithful cover.
Offspring's version, released three years ago, is slickly produced, from the drum-count intro to the affected vocals. It's okay, with the acceptable amount of rage, but suprisingly safe for a punk song.
Zebrahead's rap-rock take on the song, with its call and response that must work great for songs, also works well for me.