photo & text by nacrowe
there is something LOOSE and FUN about listening to the second RANCID record LET'S GO (EPITAPH, 1994). for all intents and purposes the band came on my radar in 2000 when i moved to KUWAIT and fell in with a group of friends that were big on EPITAPH and FAT WRECK bands like PROPAGANDHI, ANTI-FLAG, PENNYWISE, LAGWAGON, RISE AGAINST, MILLENCOLIN, NO USE FOR A NAME, BAD RELIGION and NOFX among others. up until that point my foray into PUNK ROCK beyond the 1970s originators were HARDCORE groups like DEAD KENNEDYS, BLACK FLAG and DESCENDENTS as well as POP PUNK bands like GREEN DAY, BLINK-182 and NEW FOUND GLORY.
so it was a bit of an education. i always think of music as a social phenomenon that is very much centered on relationships and exposure. for me geographically, there was a period of seven years growing up where i attended something like five schools, many times on different continents. so ive always learned about stuff out of cultural context, which is interesting.
for me, the act of discovery for the LET'S GO album is invariably linked to my experience first seeing them play live in VENTURA in 2001 on the VANS WARPED TOUR. there is just something undeniable about the SPARTAN quick-in-quick-out song construction but loose on-the-floor feel of tracks like "SALVATION," "RADIO," "LET'S GO" "THE BALLAD OF JIMMY & JOHNNY," and "NIHILISM" among others. thematically these songs center around stories celebrating their EAST BAY community that serve almost as allegories about living life under the duress of society's thumb. THE CLASH influence is absolutely undeniable in terms of sonics and SOCIO-POLITICAL OUTLOOK but TIM ARMSTRONG in my opinion is a much more TALENTED songwriter than JOE STRUMMER ever was. going back to his days in OPERATION IVY ARMSTRONG has had way with MELODIC and lyrical hooks that are both UPBEAT and EMPOWERING while being intensely EMOTIONALLY CHARGED. even at this early stage he was a force to be reckoned with.
seeing RANCID live and hearing them play these songs shortly after hearing them for the first time was a thrilling experience and a defining cultural moment of my late teens. that summer was amazing and its still crazy to think that only a month later 9/11 happened and the world shifted, as did my time in KUWAIT. listening to this record again just reminds of that period before everything became so tragic and heavy over the next few years.
LET'S GO is a record definitely worth checking out.