NOFX/Rancid
BYO Split Series Vol. 3


4.5
superb

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
July 17th, 2006 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist


NOFX/Rancid - BYO Split Series Vol. 3

While writing my review for the new Between the Buried and Me covers album, I mentioned for a cover to be good it has to either be of a good song in the first place, or, the idiosyncrasies of the covering band must complement the song they're covering in such a way as to render it better than, or at least different in a positive way to the original. However, after critically listening to NOFX and Rancid's split cover album, I think that for a cover to be great, another condition applies; the covering band must have a certain intimacy with the song, such that both the songs can be listened to back to back, and be enjoyed for their similarities, and cherished for their contrasts. There has to be a special connection between both bands to enable one to cover the other's song and make it truly amazing that is difficult to describe. Though, as way of example, every single song on this BYO split CD provides an exhibition of that delicate touch required to write a great cover song.

The general formula for this album is that Rancid and NOFX cover 6 of each others most popular or fun songs. NOFX had a scattered selection of songs, choosing from albums that span Rancid's whole career. Rancid doesn't hit any recent material, each song pre-dating Heavy Petting Zoo but reaches fairly far back, all the way to S&M Airlines for "Vanilla Sex" and Ribbed for "Moron Bros," which is usually as far as non-die hard NOFX fans are willing to go anyway. The two bands have very overlapping styles, especially in these two periods. NOFX and Rancid both mix punk, pop punk, ska, hardcore, and rock, though the obvious overlying end result is punk, or pop punk, I guess. However, both bands seem to have carved out their own special recipe for mixing those genres. Rancid goes more the way of The Clash by having a more classic feel in both their punk and ska, while NOFX has more of a distance from older style punk as they were bellwethers for the melodic punk Fat Wreck style they almost single-handedly established in the early 90s. Because of common influences but different end results, the recipes are flipped, which means hearing the tight, catchy NOFX songs performed by a sloppier more "punk" group, and the Rancid songs being rendered less rough hewn yet more refined by NOFX's sheen. It's this reinterpretation of each other's styles and songs that fosters the intimacy I mentioned earlier. Not at any point does either band compromise or undermine themselves or each other, which seems am impossible task when covering songs, but somehow they pull it off.

The NOFX side is particularly enjoyable for me. I'm less familiar with Rancid's collection, owning only two LPs and scattered mp3s, but I've noticed that their top few songs are true gems of punk songwriting. "Corazon de Oro," "Radio, Radio," and "Olympia, WA" are some of Rancid's three best songs, and they're the most wistful and ballad-like as well. NOFX plays all three of them beautifully, leaving no heartstring unpulled. Even the campy reggae version of "Radio, Radio" doesn't lose its wonderful punk qualities as Fat Mike harmonizes with his whined background vocals. Some of Rancid's best fast songs like "Maxwell Murder" and "It's Quite Alright" don't make it on this album, which was disappointing, however, the ones selected "I'm the One," "Tenderloin," and "Antennaes" are also pretty great. NOFX's tighter formula takes the edge off of the faster tracks (whereas they complement the longer, slower ones), but overall they are played well, if, a little watered down.

The Rancid side is a little offbeat. Like I mentioned earlier, it plays more like a greatest hits from 1987-1994 collection because of the choices, but those ones still sum up a lot of NOFX's musical diversities and achievements. While I've never liked "The Brews" as much as other NOFX fans, I was pleased with all of the other choices. More obscure favorites like "Lori Meyers" and "She's Gone" didn't make it of course, but the ones left here are great. Rancid benefits from having Matt Freedman, who is a sick bassist so where there are typically guitar solos and leads, Freedman fills in like on the awesome rearranging of the instrumentation on the intro to "Stickin' in My Eye." Also, the sloppier punk feel helps out a lot songs like "Bob" where Armstrong's weird, faux-British accent slurs words like "about" in unusual yet fun and memorable ways. Rancid's 3 three vocalist technique also divides the songs well with the worst vocalist (Freedman) taking over only one track, "Don't Call Me White," whose angry, witty lyrics benefit from his rough, barking shouts. Lars Friedrikson, ironically takes over the Jewish anthem "The Brews" and "Stickin' in My Eye" while the unofficial frontman/lead vocalist Tim Armstrong takes the remaining three.

These songs represent so much that was and still is important with good punk songwriting. A slight technicality in the speed of the drumming and little riffs thrown in, amazing youthful, witty lyrics, and incredibly catchy chord progressions and octave melodies. They are inherently good but are also taken to the next level. This album is most enjoyable based off of how the songs are different from the originals rather than how similar. The soft, wind down at the end of "Bob" makes the song feel as wistful as "Olympia, WA" and the gang vocals mixed way the hell up on "The Brews" give that song the proper gang feel that suits the lyrics and even the chord progression. NOFX too reinvents Rancid by really laying on the fake Jamaican accent thickly on "Radio, Radio" and what I consider the best moment of the album, Eric Melvin's octave guitar melodies on the chorus of "Olympia, WA." Inserting these subtle changes and inflections requires choice. I feel that because NOFX and Rancid have a special bond, in what they represent for punk, and also in their actual musical style, they share that special link that allows them to make the right choices, which makes their songs even more special and poignant to a nostalgic listener like myself. So, if you have enjoyed either of these two bands in the past, or even if you're just encountering them for the first time, I recommend this as a must have album, just because of how god damn right it feels. It takes me back to being 15, which, while not that long ago, was a distinctive, Fat Wreck-laden period of my life that enjoy reliving through this album. Though this album is extra special to me, I still think there's a lot on this album to appreciate and admire for even lukewarm fans.

Recommended Tracks: Olympia, WA; Stickin' My Eye; Corazon de Oro; Don't Call Me White



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user ratings (27)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
kno_kontrol
July 17th 2006


448 Comments


great review for probably the best split ever.


RandyfromPennywise
July 17th 2006


752 Comments


Agree with your recomended tracks 100%, Olympia is great and Stickin', love Matt's bass intro improv to it. Nice work. Personally I don't rate it 4.5, I'd give it a 3.5 or 4 but still a good review buddy. I like the "lukewarm fans" tag! I can relate to the "Fat Wreck-laden period" somewhat as well, even though mine was probably more an Epitaph-laden period. I like the way you write, you express yourself rather well, and differently when required.This Message Edited On 07.17.06

NortherlyNanook
July 17th 2006


1285 Comments


This looks like a really fun listen.

Shame about the first track. I just can't stand I am the One from Let's Go, but Tenderloin is pure awesome. I oughtta try downloading a few.

Rockafella
July 17th 2006


88 Comments


Personally I find this to be a pretty good album but Rancid's cover of Don't Call Me White is just terrible.

NortherlyNanook
July 17th 2006


1285 Comments


Argh. I just listened to Tenderloin, and it feels just so empty without Matt Freeman's awesome bass work. Such a shame.

RandyfromPennywise
July 17th 2006


752 Comments


I hate Rancid's Don't Call Me White as well.

I thought Fat Mike really didn't put enough effort in on bass in this one, Matt shat all over him from every angle.

Zebra
Moderator
July 17th 2006


2647 Comments


Every Nofx song that made it onto this split are awesome. This should be entertaining to say the least, I wonder what Rancid is gonna do on the soul influenced part on Moron Brothers.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 18th 2006


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dudeeeeeeeeee, Fat Mike always got shat on by Matt. Everyone knows that. That's not the point. It's about reinterpreting and that's whats going on here. I guess also if you don't like his vocals you won't like Don't Call Me White, but for some reason I love it. Maybe you just need a whinier whiter voice to sing "Don't Call Me White."

TurnTheOtherWay
July 18th 2006


459 Comments


I can hear Matt Freeman singing Don't Call Me White in my head, and it's not pretty. This sounds an interesting split, even though I don't like Rancid that much anymore. Great review.

RandyfromPennywise
July 18th 2006


752 Comments


Yeah I know Matt is a supremely talented bassist but personally I think Fat Mike is (can be!) equally as creative and probably close to matching Matt's technical ability, he just doesn't play lead bass... I think the bass in The Decline is better than Matt's blistering stuff, i.e. Axiom, Maxwell, White Knuckle, even though White Knuckle Ride is probably the fastest thing I've ever heard on a bass, maybe excluding Classical Thump.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 18th 2006


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well, Matt isn't as tight of a player, but that's part of his appeal.

RandyfromPennywise
July 18th 2006


752 Comments


Yeah, and I also think his lack of 'tightness' or maybe the slightest of slight slopiness adds to his speed, and also gives him some individuality in style. Meh both great, love playing both of their lines.

Angry Balled Fists!
July 18th 2006


33 Comments


I prefer Rancids taken on NoFx's song tbh. I think Bob is the best cover ever.
I didn't like the Radio and Corazon de Oro' covers too much.

Great review.

smokersdieyounger
July 18th 2006


672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

In the liner notes, Fat Mike says that he could never have played Matt Freeman's Bass lines. Good, but not that good.

kno_kontrol
July 18th 2006


448 Comments


you are missing the point, they took rancid songs and made them sound like NOFX songs. Is the bass the highlight of NOFX? No.

RandyfromPennywise
July 18th 2006


752 Comments


^ Yeah exactly right kno kontrol, the roles each instrument plays in the two bands vary a lot.

kno_kontrol
July 18th 2006


448 Comments


of course Im right, my username references the best Bad Religion album.

RandyfromPennywise
July 18th 2006


752 Comments


Haha, I'm right 'cause my name is the bass player from Pennywise.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
July 18th 2006


16088 Comments


Hahah I'm right because I'm god in Middle Earth.
Oh wait I'm just a loser nevermind.

RandyfromPennywise
July 18th 2006


752 Comments


Well I just looked up what Ilúvatar is.

What's that old saying?... If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?



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