I’m having anxious feelings with another new Rancid album release looming. I just don’t want be hurt again. I’ve ranked their albums from worst to best to reflect on what makes for a good Rancid album. I only counted studio full-lengths on this list; no EPs, splits, side projects, etc.
8. Let the Dominoes Fall
Definitely a low point for Rancid. I remember waiting 6 long years for Rancid to make a new album, only to realize that I had changed so much in that time and Rancid hadn’t. It sounds like a b-sides album (Rancid’s actual b-sides album is awesome), filled with songs that would fit in their other albums but just weren’t good enough. They try a few acoustic songs on this one, they aren’t that good, that’s the only thing that sticks out as different on this album.
Fav. Songs: New Orleans, Last One To Die
7. Honor Is All We Know
Fav. Songs: Evil’s My Friend, Honor Is All We Know
6. S/T (1993)
The only studio LP without Lars, this album has busier bass parts to fill out Tim’s sparse guitar work, giving the whole album a different sound than the others. Though not as polished as the other Rancid LPs, the album has a completely unique sound to it.
Fav. Songs: Adina, Rats in the Hallway, Rejected
Everybody jumped ship on Rancid with this album. At this point they each had dozens of side projects, and were appearing in Good Charlotte music videos; but despite all this the album undeniably good. Some familiar territory is charted, with the G.B.H. like ‘Out Of Control’, and the ‘Out Come The Wolves’-like ‘Otherside’, but the band steps out of their comfort zone with a bunch of organ lead soulful break up songs. This aspect is probably what alienated so many listeners, but I think it’s just another example of Rancid reinventing themselves and staying interesting. If you’re new to Rancid, don’t listen to the hype, this is a good album that you should eventually listen to. A word of caution, a skinhead named Rob does a rap in one song.
Fav. Songs: Tropical London, Travis Bickle, Born Frustrated
4. Let’s Go
‘Let’s Go’ is the first Rancid album that had songs that could conceivably transcend the punk community and reach a wider audience. ‘Radio’, ‘Salvation’, ‘Nihilism’ were all minor hits. The songs have a more of a street-punk vibe, with a lot of ‘heys’ and gang vocal choruses. ‘Tenderloin’ is the best song Matt Freeman sings, ‘St. Mary’ is one of the best Lars Frederiksen lead tracks in the cannon. The only flaw of the album is at 23 tracks, with limited variety, some of the songs start to sound the same.
Fav. Songs: St. Mary, Tenderloin, Dope Sick Girl
3. S/T (2000)
On Rancid’s 3rd self-titled release they reinvent their sound channelling UK-82 second wave punk. At first glance, the opening track ‘Don Giovanni’ appears to be Tim screaming ‘Enemies! Like Don Giovanni!’ ten times and then ending; I now see as a sort of flag, letting the listener know this album is going to be an inward turn back to their punk roots. Rancid manage to find plenty of variety in the corner they’ve backed into; from the almost singles ‘Let Me Go’ and ‘Radio Havana’, to the pissed off howls of ‘I Am Forever’ and ‘Loki’. Rather than try to write a catchier ‘Time Bomb’, or regress outwardly with their own ‘Sandinista!’, Rancid made album without radio singles, filled with minute long rippers.
Fav. Songs: Not To Regret, It’s Quite Alright, Young Al Capone
2. …And Out Come The Wolves
There’s not much I can say about this one that hasn’t been repeated ad nauseam. All of Rancid’s most popular songs are on it, and every song is essential. Don’t just skim the singles on this one, ‘Lock, Step & Gone’, ’11th Hour’, and ‘Olympia WA’ are just as classic as ‘Ruby Soho’ and ‘Time Bomb’. This is a good first Rancid album to listen to. Also, the first song has the best bass solo ever.
Fav. Songs: Maxwell Murder, Listed MIA, The 11th Hour
1. Life Won’t Wait
Rancid were under a lot of pressure after the commercial success of ‘…And Out Come The Wolves’, instead of writing a watered down pop record, they synthesize various elements of world protest music with their brand of punk. While AOCTW was primarily autobiographical, ‘Life Won’t Wait’ shows Rancid taking the perspective of third world refugees, lumpenproletariat criminals, and striking coal miners. It wasn’t an easy album to digest, at first listen I didn’t like it. But each song on this is a passage to a whole other world of music, and can act as a ladder for the listener. While the thick reggae of the title track isn’t as catchy as ‘Time Bomb’, it has more depth and a more profound message. This is not only the best Rancid album, but a contender for best album of all-time, but don’t listen to this album first.
Fav. Songs: Life Won’t Wait, New Dress, Black Lung
Fingers crossed for the new Rancid album, here’s a playlist until then: