The Ripcordz - Are Go(d) (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Ripcordz

Are Go(d) (2004)

Mayday (Union Label Group)

I didn't find The Ripcordz latest material all that interesting and took a rather disinterested stab at their 2003 release What If We Held a Revolution and Nobody Came?. The title was appropriate, as the band's second generation Exploited / GBH sound really didn't seem all that interesting on the disc. For a latecomer to the band like me, their first record Are Go(d) is shockingly different to say the least. Here was a young, vibrant punk rock band playing a surprisingly dynamic set with their influences lying somewhere between the Misfits, D.O.A. and early Social Distortion. Let's be clear though that these bands are influences and not (at that time) peers, for while Paul Gott and company certainly improved as time went on their early recordings weren't exactly audiophile material.

The album, recorded between 1986 and 1988, features a nice selection of irreverent and infectious tunes. Paul Gott had a much more snotty tone in those days, less guttural than in the band's later work. The sing-along opener "Elvis Death Cult" is wonderfully funny, if for nothing else its chant/chorus. A pair of choice punk'n'roll songs follows it, particularly the rockabilly driven "Break It Out." I'm still in disbelief that "Second Change," a heartfelt rock song with a rather a vulnerable acoustic opening (think The Replacements' "Here Comes A Regular") is the work of the same band that's around today. There's a haunting cover The Adverts' "Gary Gilmore's Eyes," given a totally different feel by Paul Gott's growling vocals, which are far enough from TV Smith's so that the song takes on it's own character.

Are Go(d) gets by more on energy and catchy songwriting than it does on the musical prowess of the band. The liner notes make it clear that this record, recorded for 700 dollars at a Concordia University radio station, was created in less than ideal circumstances. The band's bassist even dropped out before recording, with Gott having to fill in just "as the tape started to roll." By the time the Ripcordz first album was released he was the only original member still in the band.

This reissue, padded with six bonus tracks, is an interesting slice of the Montreal punk scene in the mid to late 80s. While the Ripcordz have always been an underground phenomenon (and are sure to remain so) they've been a consistent staple of the Canadian punk scene. This is part of our history, warts and all.