NOFX - Ribbed - Live In A Dive (Cover Artwork)


Ribbed - Live In A Dive (2018)


No stranger to controversy or TMZ appearances, NOFX have never actually suffered from any of their sometimes-questionable antics. Except for when Fat Mike’s Cokie the Clown made fans at South By Southwest “drink pee” getting Fat Mike banned from one particular venue in the process. Then we have the recent Vegas incident. That didn’t go over so well and, at least for now, NOFX is unable to book any large gigs in the United States. Regardless, these actions have only served to push the band into the mainstream spotlight for better or worse.

All this may actually further sales and attention for NOFX’s third(!) live record in their storied career. Fat Mike’s label started this fun and highly marketable series in 2001 with No Use For A Name and the last entry in the series was in 2005 with Lagwagon. After 13 years of hibernation, NOFX decided it was time to bring back the “Live In A Dive” series complete with the cartoon/comic artwork. This time around by artist to the punk rock stars, Mr. Chris Shearer.

Recorded 6 years ago in LA, NOFX’s version of the “Live In A Dive” series differs from the normal “greatest hits” live formula here and instead focuses on one record from their storied career, 1991’s classic “Ribbed”. NOFX’s second live record “They’ve Actually Gotten Worse Live” was a welcome addition to the band’s discography thanks to them playing b-sides, rarities and deep cuts while altering the sound of some of the songs to give them a fresh take. This album does zero of that and instead is played straight through with little to no deviation from the original recording with the exception of Kody Templeton stepping in on vocals for “I Don’t Want You Around”. Which is fun but completely unnecessary, which, to be completely honest, sums of this album.

91’s “Ribbed” record was heavily influenced by Bad Religion’s “Suffer” thanks to Fat Mike’s love of that album and Brett Gurewitz’s production. It was also the first NOFX album to really cement the sound that NOFX would later become popular for, “melodic hardcore” (in Fat Mike’s words), with a healthy dose of pop sensibility and Bad Religion style “oozin’ ahhs”. It was also the last album with Steve Kidwiller on guitar. When this album was announced it was interesting to see what El Hefe might do with Steve’s parts. Spoiler alert, nada, he left them exactly the same, which is a disappointment considering how long Hefe has been playing some of these songs.

Another hope was that we would get a better sounding version of “Ribbed” and this recording delivers on that. Recorded by former manager and sometimes sound man, Kent Jamieson and mixed by the very talented Cameron Webb, this live version gets to use all the recording technology not accessible or even invented in 1991. We are treated to a louder, crisper and punchier version of “Ribbed” which is far preferable to the band re-mastering an old record. “The Malachi Crunch”, “Nowhere”, “Just The Flu” and “Cheese/Where’s My Slice?” still hold up as blistering, fantastic songs in the NOFX catalog and a higher quality re-recording is a nice treat for fans. That’s not to say they don’t play a little sloppy here and there but they keep it together for the most part. Anyone that has seen NOFX live more than once can attest to the fact that it’s a crapshoot with what you’re going to get from these guys.

NOFX is known for their on stage banter but we are subjected to a little less on this album then the previous two which probably won’t upset any one when it comes to replay value. The usual self-depreciating humor is present with the band pointing out their mistakes and boredom with playing self-professed “terrible” songs.

Ultimately, Ribbed defined the NOFX sound in 1991 and was an important and influential record for younger bands coming up in the 90’s such as Lagwagon and Propagandhi. The choice to cover it live is understandable. Did they need to record it live and release it 27 years later? Not necessarily. It’s a fun gift for long time fans of the band of which there are plenty.

Perhaps this is the low-key release that NOFX needs after the much-publicized backlash of the Vegas quips. It’s an inoffensive throwback to NOFX’s glory days as a band that was helping pioneer another wave of punk rock that would, as it turns out, be here to stay.