An Album You Must Own: …And Out Come The Wolves

Punk’s resurgence in the early 1990’s is generally given credit to Green Day and The Offspring, both of which alive and well today. It would be foolish however to neglect Rancid, especially …And Out Come the Wolves, the best punk record of the 90’s.

Punk was born with the idea of stripped down ferocity, a collective grunt aimed to do or solve nothing in particular. So while left-leaning politics, a lead singer indistinguishable from Joe Strummer, and a band actually capable of playing their instruments well doesn’t sit well with the underground scum, it helped Rancid get big. They didn’t just get a record deal; they got the biggest labels in the industry into a bidding war that brought neo-punk to the heights grunge was falling from. Their career was brief and would only produce one good album, but oh, what an album it was.

From the moment “Maxwell Murder” bursts through the speakers, you’d be an overly sensitive person if you weren’t instantly hooked. It’s fast, loud, snarly, and an attempt to pantomime the bass solo will leave you with a hand cramp. “Time Bomb” is instantly recognizable as one of the best punk-ska songs ever released, and despite having no idea what lead singer Tim Armstrong is saying, “Ruby Soho” is a neo-punk classic.

The songwriting is, if anything, consistent. Rancid’s politics (“Do you know where the power lies and who pulls the strings?”), wordplay (trans-sister, trans-parents-see), and clichéd apathy (“When he rolled the dice, he never thought twice”) don’t inspire anything too grand. Their strength comes from their musicianship and ability to create a hook; there are at least six songs on the album that are liable to get stuck in your head at any point in the day.

If there is any downfall to the album, it’s length. With 18 songs, there are more than a handful of duds, but songs like “Daly City Train”, “Old Friend”, and “The Wars End” will give you a pleasant surprise. There isn’t as much ska as I would like, and though bands like NOFX bring much more intensity, no one does it with the craft of Rancid. It’s the best punk record of the last 20 years because it’s an enjoyable listen to the spirit of punk.

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