Turn Back The Clock
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Every once in a while, I pull a random album from my collection, listen to it and decide whether or not I really want to keep it. This method is my way of culling the existing mound of music I have collected over the years and making room for new and possibly more enjoyable music. Of course, this plan isn’t foolproof - I haven’t found a great many albums that I truly loathe years after purchasing them. In the case of Americana by The Offspring, the idea of tossing this CD was simply out of the question!
Formed in 1984, The Offspring is a band hailing from Huntington Beach, California and features Dexter Holland on lead vocals and guitar, Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman on lead and rhythm guitars and backing vocals, Greg K. on bass and backing vocals and Pete Parada who joined the band performing drums and percussion since 2007 (drummer Ron Welty left in 2003). Signing with Epitaph Records in 1991, the band began to achieve some moderate success throughout the American punk scene. But I had never heard of them until their song Come Out and Play (Keep ‘Em Separated). This song really grabbed my attention thanks to the lyrics and the music, but I never thought of purchasing one of their albums until I heard Pretty Fly (for a White Guy).
It was this song that inspired me to check out more of The Offspring’s music. Pretty Fly (for a White Guy) tells of one young man’s successive failures in his attempts to be perceived as cool. Instead of just being himself, he tries adding tattoos, getting recognition for the car he drives and more, all in the name of achieving coolness and every time, he falls short. Knowing several individuals like the one described in the song and truly enjoying the sarcastic delivery as well as the great supporting music, I needed to hear more. Thus, I spent my hard-earned money on The Offspring’s 1998 album release, Americana.
Popping Americana into the player, one can’t help but catch the adrenaline rush this album gives off. The music is action extreme with terrific guitar riffs and fast-paced slamming drum beats. Each song brings out the emotions of the listener as they relate to the lyrical content. Who hasn’t grown up with a bunch of kids and wondered why their lives have ended up so badly? This is addressed in The Kids Aren’t All Right, a song that was featured in the soundtrack of The Faculty: “When we were young the future was so bright (whoa) / The old neighborhood was so alive (whoa) / And every kid on the whole damn street (whoa) / was gonna make it big in every beat. / Now the neighborhood's cracked and torn (whoa) / The kids are grown up but their lives are worn (whoa) / How can one little street / Swallow so many lives?”
Then there are the times when someone we know - a relative, a former friend, a former lover, a co-worker - makes you feel like you want to tear their faces off. Of course you would never act on these feelings, but the song Feelings, a parody of the 1975 hit, may be playing in your mind: “Feelings… / Nothing more than feelings / Trying to forget my... / Feelings of hate / Imagine... / Beating on your face / Trying to forget my... / Feelings of hate.”
She’s Got Issues deals with that girl you probably never should have dated. You know the type - the one whose father wronged her as a child, has abandonment issues and carries more baggage than a hotel bellhop: “I don't know why you're messed up / I don't know why your whole life is a chore / Just do me a favor / And check your baggage at the door.” Why Don’t You Get a Job, a song with a tune heavily inspired by (some would say copied from) The Beatles’ Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, addresses those free-loaders in your life. I’m sure you can think of a friend or two who have significant others that free-load off their boyfriends/girlfriends without a thought as to working for their own money. Well, Why Don’t You Get a Job tells us to fight back: “I won't pay, I won't pay ya, no way / Now now why don't you get a job / Say no way, say no way ya, no way / Now now why don't you get a job.” Walla Walla is a tribute to all of those fools who swear they didn’t do it as they get carted off to prison: “Goodbye my friend, you've messed up again / You're going to prison, you're off to the pen / You've gotten off easy so many times / But I guess no one told you how to get a life.”
These are just a few of my favorite songs, but Americana sports 13 official tracks plus a bonus track. What’s so amazing about this album is that every single song on the album is great. I’m sure that you, like me, have purchased many albums which contained a few songs you liked, but contained just as many songs that weren’t all that great. You put up with the crappy songs just to get the good ones. Not so with Americana! The entire album is great. The music gets the heart pumping and the lyrics are funny and easy to relate to. The album is so enjoyable that even after not having listened to it in a while, I still remember the lyrics to every song on the album! Now that’s certainly a testimony to a great album.
The Offspring has released eight original albums, a number of EPs and a couple of compilation albums, but none of their music has had such an impact on me as the songs found on the album Americana. Check out Americana today and get ready for the adrenaline rush!