It's now fourteen years since The Orange County Supertones made their grand entrance into the music scene with their brand of ska to follow the musical trends of the mid-90's. Incidentally, The Supertones were not only the very first Tooth & Nail Records signing that this reviewer would ever get into, but the band soon captured audiences of all kinds and ages. In fact, by 1998, they were headlining the opening night of Creation East Festival. Not bad for a band that mixes punk, ska, and rock together for a delicious concoction.
The band hung up their instruments five years ago, nine years after debuting. Sadly, ska was merely a trend and while it waned, The Supertones struggled to adapt to the fickle ears of music listeners and eventually had to call it quits. In 2010, the band is reuniting to play a few festivals this Summer across the globe. To honor their reunion (the band isn't officially back together, however), BEC Recordings is hoping to fuel the flames and give fans and potential new ones something "new" to pick up. Simultaneously, ReUnite: The Best Of The Orange County Supertones seems like a re-do attempt of their 2005 hits collection, Unite - which was eight songs longer than this effort, but included a pair of truly disappointing updates of two of the band's fan favorites ("Adonai" and "O.C. Supertones"). ReUnite, quite thankfully, includes the original versions instead, despite the fact that the recording still sounds very, very rough (especially by today's overproduced, auto-tuned standards) and rather dated. But that is truly the charm of these songs anyway - they appear here in their original, purest form.
ReUnite still feels a bit slim to include a mere twelve tracks. However, at the same time, it's being described as a representation of the band's set list when they play festivals this Summer, so in that sense, the focused selection here makes sense. Still, just two years ago, the label also released a 2-disc Ultimate Collection of Supertones' work, so it just seems unnecessary to offer a third collection from the band - especially in the digital age when all of these tracks are already available on iTunes or Amazon and can be purchased individually or as collections. So, as a collection, it really does offer the band's most stand out songs from their career, which was undoubtedly their earlier years. Still, there's nothing on this record from their final two albums with the bulk of these songs being from their first two records - Adventures of the O.C. Supertones and Supertones Strike Back. All diehard Supertones fans will have the band's first four records and, therefore, each of these songs already. When Supertones toured their final run in 2005, they had announced a possible final EP, and it would have been nice to hear something new tacked onto the end of ReUnite or just some other buying incentive for fans (Old demos? Alternate mixes? B-Sides? Something!). But this is a project apparently entirely aimed at potential new fans who see them perform this year.
As a mix of songs, ReUnite does trim any fat to focus on the band's most recognized songs. It leads off with their most memorable ones - "Adonai" and "Supertones Strike Back," and includes other favorites like "Unknown," "Resolution," "O.C. Supertones," "Little Man," "Who Can Be Against Me," and "Unite" (incidentally, all from their first two albums). And from when the band moved into more pop radio-friendly territory, those hits "Hallelujah" and "Away From You" (featuring Crystal Lewis) also find a home here, even though they aren't necessarily as strong as some of the songs that didn't make the album's track list. Lastly, "What It Comes To," featuring TobyMac, and "Grounded" are also included. Still, despite its intent to represent their Summer set, songs like "Grace Flood," "Louder Than The Mob," "Jury Duty," "Sure Shot," and "Wilderness" are all sorely missed.
As a 2010 live reunion souvenir, ReUnite does the job to give new fans a taste of what the Supertones did during the most memorable years of their career. However, that's really all ReUnite is good for. If you're a longtime fan who owns their first four albums, there's nothing new here and no reason to pick this one up. Also, if you're looking to get into the Supertones and don't know where to start, this collection is a decent way to go, but the 2008 Ultimate Collection would probably give you the best bang for your buck. It's exciting to have the Supertones playing a few reunion shows this year, and ReUnite does a decent job honoring it.- Review date: 5/17/10, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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