Man, this was a throwback and I loved every second of it. This album came immediately before …And Out Come The Wolves (which I love unreservedly), but I didn’t get it until after. Go figure. Anyway, the energetic and dirty, sloppy but not sloppy at all punk-ska-Clash hybrid that Rancid does so well is on full display here.
The singles from this album were Nihilism and Salvation*, but honestly any of the 23 tracks here could have been singles. Billie Joe Armstrong gets a writing credit on one track (Radio), and Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion) produced and co-engineered it. It was intended to be a double album but got condensed to one CD.
* Salvation also appeared in Guitar Hero II for XBox 360, for the video game fans out there.
How do you follow up a stone classic like …And Out Come The Wolves (which I love unreservedly)? You go back to the studio and keep that ball rolling, that’s what!
But you don’t stop there. You record in Jamaica, and up into the States in New York, San Francisco, LA and New Orleans. You get help from Buju Banton, three of the Specials, Dicky Barrett, the Slackers’ Vic Ruggiero, Billie Joe Armstrong, Dave Hillyard, Marky Ramone, and even Wil Wheaton (among many, many others). You record over 50 songs and narrow the pile down to a final 22. You make the cover art an homage to John Lennon’s Rock ’N’ Roll and Neil Young’s After The Goldrush…
But most importantly, you write friggin’ strong songs that sound like Rancid, but also branch out sonically and add reggae and ska even more strongly into that Rancid sound. We know they love the Clash and it’s here too (hey, London’s Calling from Sandinista…). First one I heard, way back then, was Bloodclot. I was sold.
This one and …AOCTW are way up there as Rancid’s best works. Bloody brilliance.
Say what you want, there’s a part of me that takes pleasure in those 90’s punk-like bands like the Offspring, Green Day and Rancid. Wait. Maybe it’s not even fair to lump Rancid in with those other guys. Well, whatever. I love ’em, no matter what the purists might say.
This record is the one Rancid album I love from top to bottom and know every word. Every track is solid and banging, alternating between in your face punk rock and swinging ska. Armstrong’s vocals are suitable shredded and shitty, a calling card in the best Shane MacGowan tradition indeed, and Frederickson’s bass is so restlessly all over every track, it’s tiring! There are huge hits here too, like Roots Radicals, Time Bomb, Olympia, W.A., and Ruby Soho, and there’s a ton of other tracks that should have been huge too. Not a bad one in the bunch. Jim Carroll even turns up, on Junkieman (fitting, since that’s where the album title came from, don’t you know. Of course you did).
Anybody who owns this, or has in the past, will know what I mean. As close to perfection as they ever came – and that’s saying something, since all of their records are worthy of very high praise, indeed.