NOFX / Rancid
BYO Split Series Volume III
This record brings a big ol’ goofy smile to my face. The third (and undoubtedly biggest) in BYO Records’ Split Series finds modern-day punk rock legends NOFX and Rancid each taking on six of the other’s songs, and damned if it doesn’t make me nostalgic as hell. I spent a whole lot of time not only listening to the original versions of these songs, but making them a part of my life, ’til I knew all the words without even thinking about ’em, singing along with friends or at a show, at the top of my lungs. These two bands — and in particular, several of these songs — bring up all the good memories of my life as it was six-to-nine years ago (and thankfully, none of the bad ones).
The presence of these two bands looms so large on the punk scene that if you don’t already have a good idea of what the record will sound like, you don’t know punk rock. NOFX are the template that a million bands since have based their sound on — a hooky, melodic, and snotty brand of fast — and often funny — punk rock. Rancid play a more “serious-minded,” Clash-inspired breed of punk. Both bands have been known to throw bits of ska and reggae into their sound (Rancid more so than NOFX), and both are instantly identifiable once you’ve heard a few of their songs.
Interestingly, while you wouldn’t think of NOFX as a politically-minded band, Rancid actually manage to dig the more politically-themed tunes out of the NOFX catalog — it’s easy to forget that NOFX aren’t all lesbian love songs and puns, but Rancid’s barnstorming takes on the likes of “Vanilla Sex” and “Don’t Call Me White” drive the point home. And while I’m a little disappointed that they skipped the original ska bridge on one of my all-time favorites, “Bob,” the enthusiasm is so obvious, and Tim Armstrong’s gravelly voice sounds so good, that it’s impossible to stay mad.
For NOFX’s part, they pick a varied group of tunes from Rancid’s diverse catalog, from the smooth reggae of “Radio” to the classic straight-ahead punk of “Olympia WA”; from the sweet, organ-laden “Corozon de Oro” to the shout-along “I’m The One.” Both bands stay true to the spirit of the originals while bringing their own distinct personalities to the material.
If you have preconceived notions about what this record will sound like, you’re probably on the right track, except that it’s even better than you’ll expect. I’m now as geeked up about these bands as I was nearly a decade ago, and that’s really saying something. More!