Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Rancid [Epitaph, 1993] **
  • Let's Go [Epitaph, 1994] ***
  • . . . And Out Come the Wolves [Epitaph, 1995] A-
  • Life Won't Wait [Epitaph, 1998] A-
  • Rancid [Epitaph, 2000] ***
  • Indestructible [Hellcat, 2003] A-
  • Let the Dominoes Fall [Hellcat, 2009] **

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Rancid [Epitaph, 1993]
punk rant at its streetest ("Rejected," "Adina") **

Let's Go [Epitaph, 1994]
scattershot rads in the U.S.A. ("Harry Bridges," "Burn") ***

. . . And Out Come the Wolves [Epitaph, 1995]
Third time out they're as far ahead of the Offspring as they are behind the Clash. Musically, their oi-ska 'core has got it going on--the 19 anthems start catchy, rev up the guitar in the middle, tail off to catch their breath, and climax with two war chants and a piece of personal invective that I hope isn't about Green Day because that would be petty. But their words only go halfway, which matters when you honor the literal and print your lyrics--their stories vague out, their slogans implode, and their politics have no future. Even in punk terms, they're not great singers either. Not only won't they change the world, they won't change rock and roll. Which is no reason not to wish them well. A-

Life Won't Wait [Epitaph, 1998]
With punk revivalism deemed almost as uncouth as frat-boy ska in these postalt times, the three-year hiatus since . . . And Out Come the Wolves may have flattened the rep of one of the few bands to get either style right. That's how pop works--you work your claim, times change, you lose. But art is more forgiving, and aesthetically, this beaty disc is an improvement--snakier in the bass and loopier in the vocals, careening forward in a lovely confusion that never approaches thrash or march (well, maybe march). Whatever their ideas about black lung, glass-pipe murder, baseball bats in Poland, liberty failed liberty, and love redeeming love, they make you glad they have feelings about them--and convinced that for once you know the difference between feeling and pose. A-

Rancid [Epitaph, 2000]
What if a Clash record fell in the middle of a stock exchange and nobody could hear it? ("Radio Havana," "It's Quite Alright"). ***

Indestructible [Hellcat, 2003]
The Clash invented punk politics, and got pretty complex about them. Rancid ran with punk politics, which in Berkeley were burned into the subculture as deep as the three-chord forcebeat. Their big ideas and deep convictions are about their scene, not their society, and they devote their warmest album ever to celebrating and justifying that scene, which they rightly see as global. Sure it would be nice if they put their all into offing Bush, but it would also be nice if the Democrats did. Instead, Rancid offer an inside look at a ready-made dissident voting bloc, toggling back and forth from defeated to defiant as they pursue their little happinesses. Wesley Clark is so smart I'm sure he can get this constituency to the polls. A-

Let the Dominoes Fall [Hellcat, 2009]
Solidarity forever ("East Bay Night," "Civilian Ways"). **