ALL / Descendents - LIVE Plus One (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

ALL / Descendents

LIVE Plus One (2001)


I’d never heard this record until… March of 2019. Why am I reviewing it? Well, I missed the callout for reviews for this Descendents and ALL week and every regular album from both bands had been taken. But when I looked this album up, I realized it was a double live album with my favorite era of BOTH bands, so I was relieved and stoked to hit play.

Perhaps it’s my age, coming into punk in 1993 with Dookie and spinning my Rancid, Lagwagon, NOFX, Bad Religion and Goldfinger records endlessly in ‘94 and ‘95, but when Everything Sucks dropped, I was buying nearly everything Epitaph put out and this recorded landed square in the pocket. Pop punk catchiness, nerd-and-loser-empowering lyrics, and the power and technical fortitude of the guitar, bass and drums. The production was tight as hell but not slick or overwrought. It was just right. It was much more appealing to me at the time than the early 80s Descendents records. Shortly after Everything Sucks, Mass Nerder followed close behind, and while I had heard a lot of Descendants records, I really had no previous pull to listen to ALL whatsoever. I just didn’t know their deal--keep in mind this was still in the slow-ass internet days, when you didn’t simply hop on your smartphone and go “Oh! It’s the three guys from the Descendents with a different singer!” I was blown away by Mass Nerder almost as much as I was by Everything Sux.. As a hyperactive skater kid and punk rock drummer, the slacker grungy image was not my jam (though I liked a lot of that music before I got into punk) so the song “World’s on Heroin” really spoke to me. So let’s look at the tracklist of LIVE Plus One.

Disc one, the ALL live record, was recorded in the Spring of 2001, mere months before this release would drop, at The Starlight in Fort Collins, Colorado. The location was undoubtedly picked due to its proximity to Bill Stevenson’s The Blasting Room studio where it was later mixed and mastered. The ALL tracklist has quality selections, though I must admit I’m the most familiar with the Chad Price ALL records so the songs that stick out are the ones of Mass Nerder--, the previously mentioned “World’s On Heroin,” “Fairweather Friend,” “Honey Peeps,” “I’ll Get There” and “Until I Say So” especially, and the songs of 2000’s Problematic like “Carry You,” “Crucifixion” and the deep-thinker “She Broke My Dick” that has some playful and enthusiastic crowd participation. It makes sense that these would be a big chunk of the set since they were the newest records and Price is the one leading the band in this era. We get some older tunes too though, like “Breakin’ Up” from Pummel, “Birds” from Percolator and standouts “Bubblegum” and “She’s My Ex” from Allroy’s Revenge.

Disc two, the Descendents live record, is a five-year-old set (at the time of the album’s release) from The Whisky A-Go Go in LA from the Everything Sucks tour. Why it didn’t get put out as a stand-alone release on the heels of that record is perplexing to me, that would have made more sense. It’s an equally good setlist, and more diverse than the ALL set, helped by the fact that the band has several more years in their catalog, and that the early stuff sprinkled in still sounds so wonderfully primal played by grown men who are now even better at their instruments.

The set is dominated by Sucks tracks of course and I’m not complaining. Anyone who claims that the pre-Karl Alvarez and Stephen Egerton-era records are best is just wrong. Of course there are great songs on Milo Goes to College but this is actually the place to hear them, played by the strongest lineup of the band. The Sucks tracks kick ass here, from the hit “I’m the One” to “Thank You,” for which the between-song banter appropriately consists of Milo just saying “thank you” before bursting into College stand-out “M-16.” In addition to “M-16” there’s a near-hilarious amount of their short sub-minute blitzkriegs like opener “My Dad Sucks” and “Wienerschnitzel,” and the classic “I Need Food.” After “Coffee Mug,” Milo exasperatedly says, out of breath, “Oh my god. DUDE you need to slow down!” It’s funny but this is the extent of the banter on this record and I was wanting more. They hit “Get the Time” and “Cheer” off the overall stinker of a record that is Enjoy, while leaving out fan favorites off ALL like “Coolidge” and “Clean Sheets.” Milo goes on a nice anti-religion rant before live staple “All-o-gistics,” listing out the band’s commandments like “thou shall not partake of decaf,” “Thou shalt always go for greatness” and “Thou shall not commit adulthood.” They close it out with College classic “Catalina.”

As a whole, the record is just fine and dandy. Both bands are tight, they rock hard, and the record gives a good encapsulation of what each band is about. However, Live Plus One is far from essential. (I didn’t own it, so clearly…) An essential live record is a rare thing. In fact, the ONLY live record I might call essential is Kick Out the Jams by MC5. Sure there are a lot of great live records—Ramones It’s Alive, Cheap Trick Live at Budokan, NOFX I Heard They Suck Live, They Might Be Giants Severe Tire Damage, but those all have one or more of the following: songs played better/louder/faster or recorded better than on early records (It’s Alive is so goddamn intense, and Cheap Trick has the definitive versions of “I Want You To Want Me” and “Surrender” on it), drastically different takes on their songs (TMBG, always) or hilarious between-song banter (NOFX). This record really doesn’t have any of these. It doesn’t fail in any department save for the banter which is practically non-existent, but the songs all just sound like a tight band playing the songs from the records. It’s fine. It’s well mixed, though the crowd noise during songs is often a bit loud, and unrealistically you wouldn’t be hearing the crowd during the loudest portions of songs, which happens sometimes here. The setlist is a great mix of stuff for both bands, but for the Descendents, the pre-Sucks stuff you could have heard on Liveage or Hallraker Live! so it’s a bit redundant, but is the best produced of all those records, so there’s that. The ALL disc is more important in that respect, because the Chad Price stuff had not yet been documented live.

ALL in ALL (get it?) this is a good record to stream, but not one you’d need to buy.