Band: The O.C. Supertones
Label: BEC Recordings
Reviewed by: Brandon Jones
2. Supertones Strike Back
6. What it Comes To
8. O.C. Supertones
9. Away From You
10. Little Man
11. Who Can Be Against Me
Editor’s Note: I was not supplied with the CD of this album. This review was written off of a digital download. I have heard that they CD has some special liner notes.
I really don’t know where to begin with this review. It could go so many different directions and it’s hard for me to put my words to print. Here’s the deal, one of my all time favorite bands (I have a lot of those you know) and a group I literally grew up with in High School years, has decided to reunite for a series of special shows this summer. In celebration of this reunion tour, the band and their long time label BEC Recordings decided to hastily put together a selected group of songs into a “new” Greatest Hits package that is different from “Unite” a few years ago, or so it seems. Here we go.
“Reunite” starts off with the classic original Supertones anthem “Adonai”, with it’s steady ska beat and infectious horn lines. This was literally the first OC Supertones song I ever heard them play back when they were still called Saved with their nifty little Superman logo t-shirts and sweaty Church basement shows (Mission Hills baby!). I remember seeing this band for the first time and thinking to myself, how the heck is this band NOT Signed? Well it wasn’t too long after those first shows I saw them play as a “Ska” band that they did indeed sign and then changed their name to “The Supertones” then to “The O.C. Supertones”. This song is still special to me because it brings back so many warm memories of seeing them play in front a few hundred fans in a sweaty church basement in Mission Viejo, CA. back in 1995. The O.C. Supertones were a different sort of ska band and that’s what made them so darn special. They mixed up classic ska, jazzy horn lines, punk beats, and rap-influenced rhymes. It was like a mixture of Beastie Boys, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Fishbone. It was that special blend that truly separated the band from their peers and made them all the more special with fans of the genre. Even non-punk/ska fans got into the band with their 1996 debut record “Adventures of The OC Supertones”. This band truly brought people of all shapes and sizes together under one roof, worshiping our Creator with an infectious horn line and ska beats. Adonai was just that special song and it definitely needs to be on this album, especially in the track 1 position.
“Supertones Strike Back” is the second song on this greatest hits package. It originally appeared on the band’s 1997 hit genre defining record “Supertones Strike Back”. With it’s Metallica like intro and skapunk beats, it brings more warm fuzzy feelings to my soul. I remember hitting up the local Christian bookstore in Mission Viejo, CA. (a store that Matt Morginsky worked at, which I later got a job at as well) the day the album hit, being overcome with joy at the first track which happens to be this same song, and instantly cruising around southern Orange County with the windows down and the stereo blazing. It was summer time music and the perfect soundtrack to a warm sunny beach day here in Orange County. I spent many months cruising to this album and watching the band’s shows grow larger and larger by the day. In 1997, The OC Supertones were huge, playing sold out gigs at Churches around Southern California. They weren’t necessarily hitting the club circuit but when they did play a Church show, thousands would show up, all dancing side by side drenched in sweat with a smile planted wide across the face. Supertones Strike Back was the anthem to my 1997 summer and I have many fond memories of it.
“Unknown” is up next as the third track and it’s another classic off of “The Adventures of The O.C. Supertones” (1996). It’s a classic and spirit filled by nature. “But I didn’t know about Jesus. I tried to be like God, but when I tried, I failed. And every time I fail, and fail. I Know I rail a nail straight into the cross of Jesus. Straight into the wrist of Jesus. And now it’s 1996, a hard year to be a Godly man It seems the more I speak the Word, the less they understand. You got to know about Jesus…” Another song I remember dancing it up to clearly back in the summer of 1996.
“Resolution” is the fourth track on this album and comes from “Supertones Strike Back”. This song is a classic Supertones skapunk number with a hint of organ and more catchy horn lines. Back on this album if you didn’t know, the band had three horn players and the saxophone that is heard here is awesome.
“Hallelujah” is the fifth track on this album and comes from “Chase the Sun” (1999). It is my least favorite track on the album. There is just something about this song that always annoyed me for some odd reason. I guess it’s just too “happy” if you know what I mean.
“What it Comes to” is up next as the sixth track and from “Loud and Clear” (2000). It is another least favorite track of mine. It also features Toby Mac on guest vocals. I never really understood this song, I mean I get the lyrics and all but the rest of it just sounds lame. Toby Mac doesn’t make it any better, sorry folks.
“Grounded” is the seventh track on ReUnite and comes from “Chase the Sun” (1999). I love the lyrics to this song. “War rages on through generations. All of these Christians abandoned their stations. A whole world around us, that we’ve ceased to reach. An army of soldiers we’ve neglected to teach. But it’s dim and not pitch black. The Truth will prevail. If our God is for us how can we fail. No surer hope has ever been rested. But for our adversary’s worthy prepare to be tested…” “Kids in Universities drowning in apostate philosophy We need apologetic instruction, mental reconstruction, Ignorance reduction, to halt the mass abduction. Evangelical mind has been scandalized, Wisdom and truth have been vandalized by the un-evangelized. No truth in a world that is randomized, Expose the lies no matter how they’re disguised……” Hoo Hah. Evangelism has never been clearer than on this song by The O.C. Supertones. Classic.
“OC Supertones’ is the eight track on this album and another classic that stroked my memories. This song is everything about The OC Supertones in a nutshell. Orange County baby. This one features special guest vocals from Pegleg of The Dingees in case you weren’t aware.
“Away From You” is the ninth track and is another song I have never been too fond of. It has back up vocals from Crystal Lewis. For some reason I just couldn’t completely get into this song back when it was released (and now). It originally appeared on “Chase the Sun” (1999)
“Little Man” is the tenth track on this album and another classic from “The Supertones Strike Back” (1997). I remember seeing the video for this song on some MTV show back in the day and thinking about how far they’d come, that they actually had a video on MTV. It was surreal. Oi!
“Who Can Be Against Me” is the eleventh track on this album and originally appeared on “Adventures of The OC Supertones” (1996). It was a classic then and still a classic today.
Finally, the album concludes with their strongest song of all time, “Unite”, with it’s bass heavy groove and boomin’ beats. This is the song that I remember incited the crowds to mass hysteria back in the day. It was all in good fun but seriously; the place would erupt into pandemonium with the first guitar lines. It was nuts. “Unite” originally appeared on “The Supertones Strike Back” (1997).
Well we’ve finally reached the end of this review. I’m usually not too fond of “Greatest Hits” records especially considering that this is from a band who already had like two prior greatest hits records in their past. It seems somewhat weird to have a brand new Greatest Hits record but I understand why they did it. A lot can happen in 5 years of being gone from the scene (their farewell show was in 2005). Boy did I miss them. This is a great introduction to the band if you’re a young kid and you’ve never heard the band before in other editions. If you want to start somewhere with The O.C. Supertones catalog, get “Supertones Strike Back”, then buy “Chase the Sun” and follow those up with any other album in their arsenal. I think this nostalgia thing has gotten a bit out of hand the past year or so, with countless bands getting back together again all for the sake of reliving some former glory. For The O.C. Supertones, that is perfectly acceptable in my eyes because I think they left far too soon. When The O.C. Supertones and Five Iron Frenzy broke up early last decade, it left a ska wide hole in our scene and many were left scratching our heads. I think for them to reunite in 2010 and tour the country at various festivals, is fitting for a band that helped define this music scene. It’s a shame that ska basically died when these two “Super-groups” called it quits. They inspired thousands and touched the hearts of many more including myself. This band will forever live on in my heart as one of the first Ska groups I ever heard (outside of No Doubt and Mighty Mighty Bosstones) in the Christian market and a favorite of mine still to this day. Think of “Reunite” not as just a Greatest hits record, but as reintroduction of a band that was sorely missed by thousands of like minded music fans across the globe. Sure, these songs only cover four albums, but it’s the classic lineup we all love, after all. So just how many original members are there in this reunion tour? Well, Matt, Tony, Darren, and Jason started The O.C. Supertones as a ska group in 95′ and those same four members are carrying on with reunion alongside original member Daniel Spencer’s brother, and former Pax 217 guitarist Jesse Craig. So the core of this reunion is original, and those members as a collective group recorded “Adventures of the OC Supertones, “Supertones Strike Back”, “Chase the Sun”, and “Loud and Clear”.
Overall: I give this album an 8 out of 10 just out of my love for The OC Supertones and for the fact that they are granting us fans one last time to catch them live. It’s not a 10 because a few of the chosen songs on here are not my faves and for the fact that I already have all these songs. If you’re a new fan, this is a good opportunity to check them out. If you’re a long time fan, you’ll probably want to skip it (unless of course you want the perfect mix). The O.C. Supertones were always a group that was ahead of their time and had a grasp on originality that many of their peers lacked. The strongest Supertones albums were I believe their first four. However, even though by the time “Revenge of the OC Supertones” rolled around in 2004 with an all-together different lineup, there was something special in the songs on that record. A certain progression was felt that wasn’t evident on prior releases. “Prince of Peace” is my favorite O.C. Supertones song and it’s a shame that it wasn’t included here. All in all, this is a solid Greatest Hits album and a proper re-introduction into the band by fans and newcomers alike. Now stop reading this, go out and buy a Supertones album, and get ready to skank it up this summer at a festival gig near you!! “Skankin to the beat, we’re the Supertones…”