Good Riddance - For God And Country (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Good Riddance

For God And Country (1995)

Fat Wreck Chords

If you're a punk of a certain age, you remember a time before the Internet, when finding out about new bands required hard work, dedication and a little bit of luck. Back then, you couldn't just pull a computer out of your pocket, navigate to and find out about all of the coolest new bands. So what did you do? You read zines, if you could get your hands on them. You talked to people -- not via a keyboard and monitor, but face to face. You picked up compliation CDs to check out the newest bands bubbling up under the surface.

So what does this have to do with Good Riddance's debut full-length? It provides important context, because Good Riddance is a band that owes a debt of gratitude to early Fat Wreck Chords compilations, without which they would never have been as popular. You see, Good Riddance is a band that in many ways was in the right place at the right time. And they weren't the only ones. If your band was on Fat in the mid-90s, as NOFX played to larger and larger crowds and hawked Fat comps at every show, your band was getting its music out to a large audience hungry for exactly what you were offering. In Good Riddance's case, it was helpful that the band differentiated itself slightly, by adding a political flavor to the classic Fat sound pioneered by the aforementioned NOFX, along with others like Lagwagon. Tracks like "United Cigar" and "Mother Superior," which both appeared on uber-popular Fat comps, certainly helped to build interest in Good Riddance's first album, For God And Country, but holding audience interest over a three-minute burst is different than holding it over the course of whole record.

For the most part, Good Riddance succeeded in replicating the quality of the two "singles" across the record, though For God and Country is not without its flaws. On the positive side, Russ Rankin's lyrics were more than competent and offered an alternative to the somewhat more vapid lyrical content associated with many other Fat acts. Rankin's convictions are strong and he articulated his points well, which helped to separate Good Riddance from other, less accomplished acts off the Fat assembly line. The album also opened with particular strength, as "Flies First Class" both served to establish the band's musical approach as well their identity as a political punk band.

Musically, the supporting players also showcased their competence, though they weren't helped by the production, which sounds on the whole to be somewhat hollow. That's surprising, given that producer Ryan Greene was the wizard behind the big sound that was so synonymous with Fat releases of the time.

For God And Country is a good record, though it's not likely to be described as "great." While Good Riddance would move in a heavier direction on future records, further differentiating themselves from the rest of the Fat roster, they don't do quite enough on their first attempt to stand out that much. Admittedly, the band was not helped by the lackluster production, but regardless of that fact, For God And Country seems to lack the edge of the band's later records, and that hurts its ability to hold up in the long term.