ALL - Allroy's Revenge (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Allroy's Revenge (1989)


I didn’t plan this out, but by coincidence, for Descendents week, the two All albums I’m reviewing are albums where the band introduced a new lead singer. For Allroy’s Revenge, we see the introduction of Scott Reynolds, who took over from Dave Smalley who left the band after only one album. Reynolds would stick around for four albums before being replaced by Chad Price. It always struck me as odd that, when The Descendents lost Milo Aukerman and recruited a new lead singer, they felt the need to change their name to All, but when All lost their lead singers twice, nobody thought it was worth bothering to change the name again. (Okay, that’s a bit of an oversimplification of what happened, but not by much.)

Were the Descendents always better than All? Of course, but that doesn’t mean that All isn’t worth listening to. The problem with All is that, while I can tell you exactly what The Descendents are (classic punk with elements of both hardcore and pop-punk plus a nerdy edge and sense of humor), if you asked me to describe All, I would have a harder time. Here on Allroy’s Revenge we hear them at one point experimenting with metal and proto-grunge elements on “Copping Z,” then the next track has them covering a rockabilly classic with “Hot Rod Lincoln,” and this is then followed by some Replacements style pop-punk in “She’s My Ex.” They do all of them pretty well, but they always sound a little different on each song, and not just because of the lead singer changes. I’m normally a big fan of eclecticism and changing things up, but with All it’s enough to make you feel like you never really know what this band is since they’re just a little bit of everything, and you default back to saying “Well, I guess they’re just a punk band.”

And some of you out there are going to read what I wrote and ask “What’s wrong with being a punk band?” and of course I, a staff reviewer at Punknews, am going to tell you that naturally, there’s nothing wrong with being “just a punk band,” especially when you’ve got chops like All does. Certainly, All is a good band and I enjoy them a lot, but there’s something to be said for having a distinct identity all your own. I never felt like All, even down to their most recent albums, ever really established their own identity and who they really were. But hey, can these boys sure play!

The band is so confident in their musical abilities on Allroy’s Revenge that they kick things off with a killer instrumental track in “Gnutheme” with a playful guitar being played over a particularly talented rhythm section just opening up to show themselves off. The album starts out with a series of punchy little punk songs like “Fool” and “Check One” before they start experimenting with other styles. As stated before, this album is chuck full of great pop-punk/power pop anthems like “She’s My Ex,” “Bubblegum,” and “Mary” which all have that Replacements-tinged pop to them. Songs like “Copping Z” and the closing track “Carnage” have more of a metal edge to them that, like I said, keeps them from developing a unique identity, but are interesting experiments, even if it feels like the band is still exploring what they can do at this point in their careers.

All in all (get it) the album feels unedited at the end, like a bunch of first takes before they’ve really congealed into an album with a singular purpose to it. If you’re okay with that sort of thing and you don’t look for that much cohesion in an album, you’re going to love this and a lot of the other releases from All. If you’re looking for tighter, more coherent albums that work together more as one unified work, you’re better off turning to The Descendents than All.