Rancid - All the Moonstomper's (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


All the Moonstomper's (2015)

Randale records

Curated by Daryl Smith of Cocksparrer, All the Moonstomper’s compiles pretty much all of the officially released Rancid ska tunes. The majority of the cuts are from the main Rancid LPs with a handful coming from more obscure sources.

At its core, Moonstomper’s proves that Rancid knows how to write a catchy tune. Really, it’s tough to find more of a banger opening for any album than “Timebomb.” Twenty years later and that tune still is a ripper proving that Rancid at its height really can rub shoulders with the legends (or almost, anyway). As the band rushes through 19 cuts, the elasticity and timeless rhythm is put to work and the band mostly succeeds.

“Daly City Train” and “Brixton” are as catchy as ever and even moreso, the band is able to slip some real street-level poetry into the upbeat. This songs might be danceable, but as Armstrong tells his tale of Django and the dice game, there are certain ghosts of Joel, Springsteen, and Waits in those edges. Armstrong might not quite have the nuance or depth of his characters, which come off more as Frank Miller archetypes than Henry Miller denizens, but what he lacks in fine penciling he makes up for in broad strokes- and that’s what makes songs like these so huge. You get what you’re going to get out of the song the first time you hear it, but because the message is so pure and universal, it cuts deep. “Old Friend” proves this within 15 seconds.

That being said, when Rancid strays away from the bigger albums and segues into their more recent outings, they run out of gas. “Life Won’t Wait” feels like it was made to be a trippy, vibed out ska number and there is no other form that it could have taken. By contrast, “Up to No Good,” off Let the Dominoes Fall feels like the band felt that needed to write a ska tune and this was a serviceable entry of the form.

Likewise, by the end, the songs sort of blend together. One feels as though the band could have done a little more with genre, taking more daring and weird moves ala The Specials’ “Ghost Town” or Choking Victim. Still, to be fair, a 58 minute ska album is a loooong ska album, so its tough to be fresh on every track with that much content.

The album was released with practically no fanfare. It’s an album by a fan made for the fans to enjoy. Wisely, Rancid isn’t pitching this as “A comp EVERYBODY needs to own.” People that want this will seek it out and they’ll enjoy it. There’s nothing really new or revealing about this, but that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with a fun record made simply to be fun. One does wish that Rancid would dig a little deeper for these off-kilter releases- how about a high fidelity live recording? How about the remaining rare b-sides and soundtrack cuts? How about the Silencers demo? How about a release of the Downfall demo? How about a 7-inch of the Tim Armstrong and Jesse Michaels single?

Even so, as a lark, this record kicks it out and doesn’t stop for breath… even though maybe it should once every six or seven songs.

Note: The title of this release baffles me. “Moonstomper” can mean someone who listens to ska, or a ska song itself. So, does All the Moonstomper’s use the word “Moonstomper” as a stand in for “Rancid ska songs” and has an erroneous possessive, or does it use “Moonstomper” as a stand in for “ska fan” and actually implies “All the Moonstomper’s [favorite Rancid tunes]” and just cuts off the object noun? Confounding.