'OC Life': Who Did It Best? D.I., Offspring, Zebrahead and Rikk Agnew

Categories: Punk as Fuck
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There's not a lot of songs that encapsulate living in Orange County better than "O.C. Life," written and originally released by Adolescents guitarist Rikk Agnew in 1982. Since then it's been covered by everyone from D.I., Offspring and Zebrahead as the quintessential protest song for the antipathy that envelopes the county.

So every once in a while, we dust it off, listen to it, and marvel at how, 30 years later, all the words still ring true. "The limits of your mind is where the county line ends / Listen to the media present it all as fact /  Following the lead cause you don't know how to act / Travel in a straight line cause you don't know your own way / They'll get you in the end before you know you'll have a say."

But who did it best? After the jump, the original and three covers are analyzed side-by-side.

Rikk Agnew's original is raw yet melodic. As a guitarist, he's credited with double tracking the melodic lines on his guitar, an octave apart. Now an extremely common sound for punk bands, it was, in the early 1980s, signature Agnew. This version? Solid, angry, and brash.
D.I. covered "OC Life" in 1985 on their album Ancient Artifacts, released in 1985. This version of "OC Life" is sped up and more frenetic, but a still a very faithful cover.
Offspring's version, released three years ago, is slickly produced, from the drum-count intro to the affected vocals. It's okay, with the acceptable amount of rage, but suprisingly safe for a punk song.
Zebrahead's rap-rock take on the song, with its call and response that must work great for songs, also works well for me.

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17 comments
Guest
Guest

I lived in LA. It sucks ass. I end up in IE every now and then for one reason or another. It sucks ass. I grew up in OC, and I believe it's just a better place to live with saner people, more diversity (unlike LA which has NO diversity, just racist enclaves) and  a better standard of living. People who complain about it... well, I don't know what to say for them except they're just wrong.  Cool song though.

Sarah Lish
Sarah Lish

WOW... Now, we are comparing bands on who suffered more. Forget about the music, how could possibly be relevant if the artist didn't go through the predetermined emotions and/or situation? But enough with that...

Comparing the 4 different versions is easy. Who did it best? Rikk Agnew did. He wrote it, he recorded it and he continues to play it better than his counterparts. He doesn't ruin it with his own interpretation (after all it was written with his interpretation). Zebrahead needed a relevant song for the Orange County movie soundtrack and since none of their music would do, they figured they would cover someone else's song. As far as The Offspring, they always wanted to cover a Rikk Agnew song (since the Adolescents were supposedly the band they were the offspring of). Unfortunately, each member had to put their own little creative spin on it and that leaves us with the monstrosity they recorded. Listen to the over done cymbal after the the first chorus...     

Sophie
Sophie

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Wastherein714
Wastherein714

I agree with 909 about RATM for sure, but to say it's "hard to believe that any of them really felt the anguish"? First of all, it's statistically impossible for there not have been one who "really felt the anguish". The reason the original OC stuff still sounds awesome and is still relevant is because it was real, unlike 90% of what's being shoveled out today. Your 909 is showing Jeff.

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Bwalrus
Bwalrus

Ummm....the DI version isn't a cover as that lineup of DI included both Rikk and Alfie Agnew.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Offspring's version, released three years ago, is slickly produced, from the drum-count intro to the affected vocals. It's okay, with the acceptable amount of rage, but suprisingly safe for a punk song.The Offspring have always been "Safe" for a punk band.  (Dare I even call them that) 

I never had an afinity to any "OC" bands.  I mean not everyone in the OC had a charmed life but I find it hard to believe that any of them really felt the anguish they wrote and sang about on the level of a Minor Threat, Flipper, the Germs, Dead Kennedys, Suicidal tendencies... Etc.  Im not saying they sucked by any means.  I just thought their lyrics were a little disingenuous.  Even fast forward to the 90's and Rage against the machine... Zach de la Rocha was from Irvine... What did he really have to be that angry about? 

kirkwagen
kirkwagen

@Guest Dear Guest: OC is actually a "put Your suburb's name" here, not necessarily Orange County (otherwise I would have said ORANGE COUNTY. And ...It's dikklox like You Who this song talks of, so take Your "wrong" and stikk it up Your arse Muahh aaa haaa!! ;)

kirkwagen
kirkwagen

@Sarah Lish You tell 'em Sistah! Listen to this Woman everyone, She speaks the truth!

kirkwagen
kirkwagen

@Sophie Would You like My dikk in Your ass Sophie?

909Jeff
909Jeff

hey i never said it sucked but its kinda hard to be so angry when your raised behind the orange curtain (as I was)... To me, its fake angst... But everyone has a story right? 

Trust me Travis Barker lived in Corona and i have always disliked him. he just seems like such a whiny bitch!  

kirkwagen
kirkwagen

@dfasdgdsgHey dsafegdgsfsda... Gimme all Your shit for free cuz I'm a fukkin rokkstar ;)

Lbose
Lbose

Sure, but Rikk did the original one solo, so it's still a separate and later version that counts as a cover. It's like, when Sting performed solo songs while on his reunion tour with the Police--that's still the Police covering Sting songs.

rickjnoble
rickjnoble

@909Jeff - you are clueless.  back in 1986 (i was in high school), there was a toxic dump (McColl) in fullerton, ca.  i was on a committee that was giving the congressman shit (bill dannemeyer) because hills were sliding nearby and people found little kids playing in dirt that had benzene in it.  chevron corp (la habra) was trying to obscure water table results.

you think its ok if 5 year olds play in toxic sludge, provided they are oc kids?  guess you'd think those kids (now in 30s) have "false anguish".   wake up dude, you have a "bullet in the head".

kirkwagen
kirkwagen

@909Jeff  Really once again? have You ever met Zach? Have You ever been to Irvine? perfect place for rebellion, it's a fukkin Big Brother state. Our anger is on a worldwide level ov injustice and bullshit military/political fukkstix. A "comfortable Home City" is hardly a reason to not be angry. Obviously You are a Sheeple. I'm so sorry for You. Peace out 909~

kirkwagen
kirkwagen

@909Jeff Yeah Jeff, Rikk here. It's the fukkin idiots that were My peers and civilians general attitude that made it sukk. bakk when Jeff if You tried to be an individual (where You born yet?) You got torment constant, with no real allies. read above for the synopsis that "OC" can be "ANYWHERE", it's not geographical, it's social and OC just happened to be My Suburban nightmare...SO FUKK OFF 909 Luv Rikk 3:)

kirkwagen
kirkwagen

@Lbose Really? Who the fukk cares about this shit, it's a fukkin punkrokk song, so all versions sukk equally, just like this article is just a fukkin punkrokk article done by a useless piece ov ragshit called the OC WEEKLY...Luv n kisses Rikk Agnew

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