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a solid set of punk

Smash (Epitaph)
Offspring

Ahh, it's time to relax. And you know what that means: a glass of wine, your favorite easy chair, and, of course, this compact disc playing on your home stereo.

So go on and indulge yourself. That's right – kick off your shoes; put your feet up. Lean back and just enjoy the melodies. After all, music soothes even the savage beast . . .

Sounds more like something off a Barry Manilow greatest hits collection than an intro for an alternative/punk rock album titled SmashBy a bunch of Californians who call themselves Offspring.

Nevertheless, this is how the intro goes, and Offspring doesn't disappoint. There might be more maladies than melodies, but the energy, enthusiasm and attitude on this 14-song collection (15 if you count the "hidden" bonus track) is enough to turn even the most passive of listeners into a . . . well, a kind of socially responsible, semi-passive savage beast. More on that later.

Most everyone has already heard and been hooked by the leadoff single, "Come Out and Play (Keep 'Em Separated." In addition to the local air time this tune has received, it's getting much attention from MTV.

Don't be fooled into believing this quartet is a one-hit wonder just waiting to fade out, however. This is a solid set of originals, a must for any self-respecting punk rocker.

Along with the single, solid cuts such as "Self Esteem" (which is also getting local airplay), "Nitro (Youth Energy)," and "What Happened to You?" make this well worth the 15 bucks you'll have to shell out for a copy.

Toss in a capable cover of "Killboy Powerhead" (the Didjits), and the package is complete.

Best of all, this isn't punk for punk's sake. It plunges into a punk tangent, an alterna-reality where punk rockers actually have a sense of responsibility to go with their nose rings.

For instance, the single shows us the pros and cons (mostly cons) of gang violence. "What Happened" is an anti-drug song in the form or a narrative plea to an addict.

Meanwhile, tunes such as "Bad Habit" and "Not the One" carry that traditional rebelliousness attitude that made punk famous in the first place. It's just a little more thoughtful when done by Offspring, at least in most cases.

Hear that, Mom and Dad? The kids can thrash, and you don't have to worry about violence or drug addiction.

Or that pesky savage beast.

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