A Brief Review of Rancid’s ‘Rancid ’93’

 

There’s a few music-related pieces I’ve got kicking about on my laptop from years gone past. I thought I would publish them here as I find I enjoy looking back on them. I always love going back to the music I loved whatever time ago: I will always love these bands, songs, and albums; and that, of course, is the fantastic thing about music. It’s like an old friend – or, as Joshua Waters-Rudge from The Skints sings in ‘Got No Say‘ (FM, 2015):

My records are my best friends
And my best friends are more like family

Yesterday I published a 2012 review of a Less Than Jake EP. I’ve also got a Capdown gig review to put up, from around the same time. A week or so ago I dug out a review of a Classics of Love gig from 2012, which I originally published on a blog I began at uni. Classics of Love was the most recent band of Jesse Michaels, who came to prominence in the East Bay ska-punk band Operation Ivy, who frequented the legendary 924 Gilman club. Jesse Michaels’ father, Leonard Michaels, was a writer, whose work I also happen to love.

The guitarist and vocalist of Operation Ivy, Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman, respectively, went on to form Rancid, who need no introduction. What follows is a brief review of Rancid’s 1993 self-titled debut album, back when they were a three-piece (Armstrong, Freeman and drummer Bret Reed). I stumbled upon this whilst looking for what I thought was a review of their most recent release, 2014’s …Honor is All We Know. That doesn’t exist: instead, there is an incomplete piece on their 2009 album, Let the Dominoes Fall. However, that search did bring up this brief review from 2011. Appropriately, this was the first Rancid album I heard (I went through them chronologically). This album is fast, raw, aggressive and still fucking great.

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Opening with the disclaimer “Let’s go!” is a suitable way of setting the tone for the album, as its reckless honesty and the determination present in forthcoming songs really highlights what was going through Armstrong’s head during conception. Wrancid93ith such haunting lyrics as “Who can I trust when I’m taught to take and not give?”, present in ‘Hyena’; the listener rarely has opportunity to shy away from the society in which the band’s current attitude was produced. The ferocity of songs such as ‘Injury’ is carried over into following tracks like ‘The Bottle’ by use of its gripping speed and screeching guitar riffs. The wailing high pitched notes of Freeman’s bass seem to try to escape him as quickly as Armstrong seems to be trying to run away from his past. Fortunately for him, he succeeds. Whilst ‘Injury’ is full of curses, this along with ‘Rats in the Hallway’ and ‘Another Night’ for example, portray a well-earned and bruised angst that deserves to be expelled by any means possible, and as it happens, the only way Armstrong seems to know is through sheer force and aggression. One must not forget Reed’s drumming on this
album and when one considers that the kit was purchased by Reed from a “junkie kid”, they instantly connect the energy of the rhythm to what one imagines a junkie to be bursting with.  Although admittedly lifted from Led Zeppelin’s ‘Moby Dick’, ‘Detroit’, with its bluesy bass line and carefree lyrics, is a nod to the solace found in the music that one assumes Armstrong and Freeman acquired in Operation Ivy. All in all, the album is exploding with a raw energy that is rarely found in punk rock of the 1990s. No one complained when Lars Frederiksen joined the band; without a doubt, the result was for the better; but this debut album is certainly an individually landmark release in its own right.

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