The other day on Twitter, there was one of those “what did you learn from your dad” type things. Most of it was emotional bollocks about “how to be a man” and all this. Here’s what mine taught me: never trust a stupid man in a uniform.

Something tells me that Rancid would approve.

Towards the middle of “Tomorrow Never Comes” (don’t panic, it’s about 10 minutes in) comes “It’s A Road To Righteousness” and on it, the three singers lay out their manifesto. “First rule: stand up to power”. Yet, with all due respect to my dad, it’s the chorus that sums them up: “Ya can’t teach loyalty. It’s an honour bestowed”.

It’s clear, on this, that more than ever you’re either one of them, or you’re against them. And if you’re one of the family this is wonderful stuff.

I’ve been one of them for over 25 years. In ’95 I was worshipping The Wildhearts, and as you should I began exploring what I considered to be similar. I found “….And Out Come The Wolves”. Sorted.

Fast forward 27 years (eeek!) and I still worship the Wildhearts but I love punk rock more than ever. Lucky then, that Rancid are so damn good at it, really.

Kicking off with the title track, it’s immediately classic East Bay punk. Spitting its ire at you, but making it fun, there’s an absolutely filthy solo, just dive in. The water is disgusting.

And so it goes. ”Mud, Blood And Gold”, sounds like the most menacing gang around. Wanna take them on? You’d best come heavy.

“Devil In Disguise” is typical, though. So catchy you need to go to the clinic after. “Beware who’s around you hiding in plain sight”, sings Lars Fredericksen (I think, if I’m wrong, just don’t touch the face), there’s a feel of an East Coast band. The same cannot be said of “New American”. Blue collar, proudly working class and the bass of Matt Freeman is right to the fore.

Everywhere you look there’s a highlight, “Bloody And Violent History” is a classic, though. Yet, haven’t they always had this sense of bond? “You can’t trust a total stranger” goes the hook and through it all, Rancid has remained fiercely independent, never losing their loyalty to their community or each other.

It’s all fast and furious, of course, but “Don’t Make Me Do It”, is fast, furious and violent.

Elsewhere, there’s the odd bit of light and shade. The sense of urgency on “Drop Dead Inn” is palpable, “Prisoners Song” is more mellifluous and all the singers seem to be enjoying it, just like Drummer Branden Steineckert clearly enjoys “Magnificent Rogue” and don’t panic but “One Way Ticket” has a sort of country feel. “If I leave here I’m a failure”, they sing, “if I stay here I’m gonna die”. And perhaps the best line on an album full of sloganeering sees this one drawled. “You never back down, until they put you in the ground, close the coffin door on your face”, this is a perpetual struggle and our boys are right here with us, they might even bring “Eddie The Butcher”. He might be real, to be truthful, I’d rather not ask…..

And there are no let-ups. “Hear Us Out”, is 90 seconds of positivity. “We gotta stick together regardless!” they sing. It’s the only way. In a vile world, we have that at least.

“When The Smoke Clears” ends it all, and seems to suggest a clarity of thought that’s always been there in their music. That’s highlighted by a line on “Live Forever” where they sing “get to the show, do what we know!” And you know that these four men have, for decades been brilliant at being Rancid.

They don’t do bad records. “Tomorrow Never Comes”, however, even by their standards, is a classic.

Rating 9.5/10

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