(Owned & Operated)
by Scott Hefflon
A collection of 22 greatest hits, as requested by ALL‘s many online fans (fancy that, nerdcore kids sit in front of their computers? Who’da thunk?), all lovingly remastered by the dynamic duo, Bill Stevenson and Stephen Egarton. Spanning the years, the singers, and the nuances of style, ALL encompasses, ahem, the all of ALL. Some songs here may be unfamiliar to newer fans, and some may perk the ears of long-term fans who either took a breather (eight full-lengths in eightish years, all filled to the rim with pop-punk gems is kind of a lot to keep up with), or missed a record due to being dirt poor that year, or the mighty powerhouse that is Cruz records didn’t get the album into your local record store. So here’s yer chance to catch up, kids.
With all the lyrics, songwriting credits (for a change, it actually matters who wrote what song), the now-mandatory Descendents/ALL Family Shrub, not to mention a slew of photos spanning the years and the facial expressions, ALL is a necessary item for collectors as well as the merely curious, especially if you take into account the remastering. While the first couple ALL records were crisp and clean, the songs from those records were given a little more warmth and full-bodied umph here. Some fans may like the originals better, but those fans can skip the track, grumble a little, or throw on the original if it bothers them so fuckin’ much.
Another interesting tidbit is that Scott Reynolds, vocalist in the second incarnation, is represented far more than any other. Milo only puts a brief appearance in on one track, but that’s not surprising, seeing as he’s never been an official ALL member despite lending a vocal or two on pretty much every record. Scott’s dominance may be because he’s the fans’ favorite vocalist, he put out more records with ALL than any other singer (although Chad will tie him next record), or because fans wanted to hear songs they were having trouble finding. Let’s face it, Cruz ain’t no Interscope or Epitaph (not that Owned & Operated is, but let’s not go there). Scott has a much more sensitive-guy, melodic rock voice, and his band (Goodbye, Harry) has never hit the mark the way ALL did/does. Ditto with Dave Smalley, who gets a mere four songs, but seeing as he was only in the band for a full-length and an EP (I consider ALLroy for Prez an EP cuz of the eight songs making up the 20 minute CD, “Just Perfect” had been on ALLroy Sez…), that’s about right. And seeing as only a few tracks from his band (Down By Law) have ever strummed the heartstrings the way he did in ALL, perhaps four songs is his best representation.
OK, I feel like a Trekkie, reading far too much into this stuff. ALL is a great greatest hits record, hitting highlights over the years, offering diversity, semi-rarities, and showing the spectrum of a band that was pop-punk before there was a word for it.
(PO Box 36 Fort Collins, CO 80522)