In true anti-establishment style, West Coast US punks Rancid have spurned the concept of releasing a greatest hits package, oozing with their biggest commercial successes. Instead, their pal Daryl Smith of London East-end street-punks Cock Sparrer, has curated a 19-track record of album cuts, B-sides and rarities. All the Moon Stomper’s, named after lyrics from Rancid’s 1995 single “Roots Radicals”, ironically does not feature that track. It’s like a mini “fuck you”.
Almost a quarter century ago, childhood friends Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman formed Rancid in Berkeley, California after the dissolution of their first band of note, Operation Ivy. Armstrong’s roommate Brett Reed joined as drummer and the band were a three-piece, until they found Lars Frederickson in 1993 off the back of a recruitment campaign for a second guitarist. Rancid, as we’ve come to know and love them, were born.They have always said that they’re friends first and a band second. Twenty-four years later, the original line-up still not only remains, but actively plays on the live circuit. The only change being when Gurewitz, who left the group amicably in 2006, was replaced with former the Used drummer Branden Steineckert.
In total, Rancid has released eight full length studio albums; half of these have representation on All the Moon Stomper’s and half do not. Offerings from Rancid’s self-titled debut, their sophomore Let’s Go, their second eponymous record and also their most recent release …Honor Is All We Know are all notably absent, but rest assured, there’s an even smattering of the rest of their impressive back catalogue within this assortment.
In 1995 Rancid released …And Out Come the Wolves, which went gold in five months. “Daly City Train”, “Old Friend” and “Time Bomb” all appear on All the Moon Stomper’s. The latter has become a rough and ready anthem that’s been used in movie soundtracks, on a video game and has even been selected by UFC fighter Antonio Banuelos as his entrance music, which plays thunderously as he makes his way into the octagon, fully intending to crush his opponent.
Armstrong set up Hellcat Records in 1997, a subsidiary of Epitaph Records in a joint venture with Epitaph owner Brett Gurewitz, guitarist of Bad Religion. This year also saw Armstrong wed Aussie teenager Brody Dalle, who formed all-female punk band the Distillers and signed to Hellcat Records the next year. 1998 was the year that Rancid’s fourth album, Life Won’t Wait was released; the title track plus “Hooligans”, “Cocktails” and “Corazon De Oro” all surface on All the Moon Stomper’s.
2003 was a hard year for Armstrong. Dalle divorced him for Queens of the Stone Age main man Josh Homme, a move that Armstrong says he was completely blindsided by. His heartbreak was captured in the cathartic Indestructible, released the very same year. “Red Hot Moon” and “Memphis” were chosen for All the Moon Stomper’s, originally from an album dedicated to two major influences of Rancid; Joey Ramone and Joe Strummer, who both sadly passed away during the writing and recording of Indestructible.
Rancid kept the world waiting for a whole six years before their next offering, Let The Dominoes Fall, came out. This album was recorded at George Lucas’ Skywalker Sound Studio in San Francisco and hit #11 on the Billboard 200 chart, making it their highest charting album to date. Stax Records organ legend Booker T. Jones guests on “Up To No Good” and this plus “I Ain’t Worried”, “Liberty & Freedom”, and “That’s Just the Way It Is Now” all close the compilation. If those 15 aren’t enough, there are also a few hidden gems crammed in too, including “Brixton”, “I Wanna Rot”, “Stop” and “Things to Come”.
Rancid have had an extremely colourful career, warmly regarded as a Californian foursome who eat, sleep and breathe punk rock. They not only contribute to the genre; they champion it. A true band of brothers who stand shoulder to shoulder and have little time for the media, but a lot of time for their fans. This collection of songs is an accurate reflection of their accomplishments, spanning over three decades and celebrating their commitment, to forever sticking a safety pin into the eye of ‘the man’.