photo & text by nacrowe
SMASH (review linked HERE), as i wrote about before, was a CONSEQUENTIAL record during the elementary school years my FAMILY spent in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. when in sixth grade my family moved to NIGERIA, that record was something i held onto as a cultural artifact of what i viewed as my home in essence. that EMOTIONAL sense of IDENTITY would later shift over time as i lived and worked in different hemispheres and never returned to SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.
what is interesting for me about IGNITION (EPITAPH, 1992), which was the preceding album to SMASH, is its INTENSITY and palpable sense of AGGRESSION. SMASH had some straight-up PUNK songs, but they also had some lighter more pop-friendly fare that was recorded with tongue firmly in cheek. unfortunately with subsequent releases they went down that road too far and in essence became a BONEHEADED, THIRD-RATE WEIRD AL YANKOVIC band. which was a pity. but on IGNITION, especially tracks like "NO HERO," "SESSION," "TAKE IT LIKE A MAN," "WE ARE ONE," "KICK HIM WHEN HE'S DOWN" and "L.A.P.D." there is sense of PSYCHIC and PHYSICAL VIOLENCE that DEHUMANIZES and DIMINISHES one's sense of IDENTITY and their relationship to SOCIETY. its a BRUTAL record and for my brother and i this is the DEFINITIVE OFFSPRING record.
in retrospect i find it funny that i discovered this record through a LEBANESE classmate in NIGERIA. even the intro passage to "DIRTY MAGIC" was the first thing most of my classmates learned on guitar at the time. it just goes to show how big THE OFFSPRING were as an international force back in the mid-1990s, even in NIGERIA, and long before the internet. that still blows my mind. learning about this PUNK ROCK record by a local ORANGE COUNTY band from a few cities away (specifically GARDEN GROVE) halfway around the world was an experience that totally re-contextualized how i viewed my own relationship to AMERICAN CULTURE and that game of telephone would continue for years down the line. even this act of writing a blog is my way of exploring such a phenomena to a certain extent.
if you are unfamiliar with IGNITION, definitely check it out. it has more to do with the HARDCORE PUNK of DEAD KENNEDYS and BLACK FLAG then the POP POP PUNK of GREEN DAY, NOFX or PENNYWISE. its pretty UNRELENTING affair with no comic relief whatsoever like much of their staggeringly disappointing later output.