Ever sit back and look at your record collection of a favorite artist and consider which albums are the best? So do we! Rank & File is our way of telling you which albums are great and which ones are garbage (at least in our opinion). There are really no correct answers here, it’s all just a matter of taste, but inevitably, there will be parts of the list that you will completely disagree with, so make sure to let us know how you would rank the albums. Of course, when compiling a ranking system such as this, there have to be some guidelines in place. For Rank & File, they are:
- No E.P.’s (with rare exception)
- No Singles
- No live albums
- No remix albums
- If an artists discography is huge (i.e. Rolling Stones, Prince) only the top 5 will make the cut.
5. Let’s Go (1994):
1994 might just seem like any other year, but for music and more specifically punk rock, 1994 was a turning point. This was the year that punk broke back into the mainstream, thanks in no small part to seminal releases from Bad Religion (Stranger Than Fiction), The Offspring (Smash) and Green Day (Dookie). These three albums pretty much dominated rock music that year, but I would argue that Let’s Go, the second album from Rancid was the most important punk rock album of 1994. The addition of second guitarist/vocalist Lars Frederiksen on Let’s Go really completed the bands sound. I’ve always loved the way Tim and Lars split vocal duties in Rancid. They’re like the Jagger/Richards or McCartney/Lennon of punk rock and Let’s Go is where it all started.
4. Indestructible (2003):
Rancid’s 2003 album Indestructible caught a ton of shit prior to it’s release because the band signed a distribution deal with Warner Brothers to try and get the album to as many people as possible. Despite the fact that WB logo or name was never displayed on the package, punk rockers were up in arms about Rancid “selling out” and so on, but one spin through Indestructible proves otherwise. Indestructible maintained the band’s signature sound but was also the groups most personal album to date. Tim Armstrong had just gotten divorced and the bands close friend Joe Strummer had recently passed, giving Rancid plenty of material to write about. Indestructible is an album about friendship, love and the power of music and it’s fucking awesome!
3. Rancid (2000):
Rancid’s fifth full-length is easily the bands most intense record to date. 22 songs cover a mere 38 minutes of playing time, with many of the songs clocking in at well under two minutes. The result is a blistering set of balls out punk rock that leaves nothing standing in its wake. Now, it’s been suggested that the albums intensity was a reaction to the bands previous LP, the experimental Life Won’t Wait. Maybe that was the case, but it’s not like Rancid was a massive departure for the group. The focus on songwriting is still there, as is the band’s unique sense of melody and direction, it’s just boiled down to the bare bones and listeners are left with the definitive blueprint of what a modern hardcore/street punk record should sound like.
2. …And Out Come The Wolves (1995):
Probably like most of you reading this list, this was the album that introduced me to Rancid. I was intrigued when I heard “Ruby Soho” so I went to the record store and bought the album. I was still fairly young when Wolves was released, so I had no idea who Rancid was (let alone Operation Ivy) but from the minute “Maxwell Murder” ripped out of my headphones, I was hooked. I had never heard anything like this before. Tim and Lars’ voices seemed to be speaking directly to me, the music was heavy but full of melody and Matt’s basslines were jaw-dropping. Wolves was one of the eye-opening albums of my young musical life and still is one of the most important albums I have ever purchased to date.
1. Life Won’t Wait (1998):
…And Out Come The Wolves helped introduce me to punk rock, but Life Won’t Wait showed me what punk rock could do. Although all of Rancid’s records feature some sort of ska influence, Life Won’t Wait showcased the more experimental side of the band. Featuring guests like Buju Banton and Dr. Israel, the album sounded like it was tailor-made for the world’s heaviest dancehall. Life Won’t Wait also experimented with different sounds, like the bass-heavy plodding of “Crane Fist” and the rockabilly swagger of “Lady Liberty.” It’s a stunning listen from beginning to end, one that takes you on a journey through the history of punk rock’s different sounds and textures, making it one of the most diverse and enjoyable punk rock albums of the last 20 years.
Just missed the cut: Rancid (1993), BYO Split Series vol. 3 (2002), B Sides and C Sides (2007) and Let the Dominoes Fall (2009)
What do you think? How would you rank Rancid’s albums? Let us know in the comment section below and make sure to follow Gutter Bubbles on Facebook and Twitter!