The Oi! Ain’t Dead compilation series has been running for a few years now, showcasing the best of contemporary international Oi! They’re solid comps proving that Oi! is thriving in the 2010’s. The music is traditional on these albums, true to its roots while still sounding fresh. For the fifth instalment they’ve stepped things up with the inclusion of exclusive tracks by punk/hardcore heroes Rancid and Agnostic Front. I came across it on Agnostic Front’s Facebook and was excited to see two legendary punk bands appearing on this great comp series. Agnostic Front are rad, I’ve seen them in recent years and their latest album is great although I was more interested in hearing the new Rancid offering. I ordered it soon after seeing that post and waited impatiently for the first new Rancid song since Honour is All We Know (2014).
Rancid have immersed themselves in the Oi! scene over the past few years and their inclusion on this comp is further evidence. It’s not that their love of Oi! is anything new or they’re only just becoming part of the scene so to say. Lars was skinhead back in the 80’s and has worked on albums by The Business and Cock Sparrer back in the 90’s and 00’s. Rancid also covered Blitz on their Radio Radio Radio 7″ (1993), and there’s probably tons of other references but I’m sure you get the point. None the less just recently it’s become far more obvious. Lars is a full on skin with a traditional Oi! band The Old Firm Casuals, he also plays guitar in Oxley’s Midnight Runners, you guessed it another Oi! band. It’s not uncommon to see him produce or lend guest vocals on some of the underground releases too. You’re more likely to see Tim wearing Oi! band shirts in the past few years too, I’ve noticed The Business and On File, he’s also covered some Oi! standards for his Tim Timebomb and Friends project too.
It does seem that Lars’ relationships with the elder statesmen of the original UK punk have got Rancid involved in this scene in a bigger way. The Rancid song ‘Fuck You’ was included on Oi! This Is Streetpunk! Volume Two (2012), this song was the first release since Let the Dominoes Fall (2009). It was a full on Oi! stomper, kind of like mid 90’s Rancid meets Cock Sparrer. It definitely felt like a return to form, back to straight up punk. What came as a surprise to me was their Randale Records release All the Moonstomper’s (2015). Released without any fanfare, I didn’t even realise it was a thing until it was out in stores. The fact that one of the biggest alternative band would put out a compilation on a small German punk label is pretty cool.
Apart from all of that, Rancid and the Old Firm Casuals have played Rebellion festival in Blackpool in the early 2010’s alongside the greats of UK street punk. Rancid probably wouldn’t have even been considered by the event when it started as a Holidays in the Sun in ’96. Back then Rancid were on magazine covers, their videos played on MTV and they were playing huge mainstream festivals like Lollapalooza. It’s great to see Rancid involved in and aligning themselves with more grass roots level punk now. Not that their success is anything to be ashamed of, that was a rad time for music when the mainstream actually accepted the real alternative (Social Distortion, Sick of it All and Nirvana etc), although today is different and Rancid are back where they belong (pardon the pun). They are well respected now in the scene and there are no shortage of Rancid shirts and patches through the pits at Oi! shows all over.
So yeah it’s hard to call Rancid sell outs or poseurs these days unless you’re an incredibly cynical crusty. Anyways that’s my rant about Rancid’s connection to Oi! Getting back to the comp it’s a little different to it’s predecessors in that it’s all US bands hence U.S.A. Attack! It opens with Agnostic Front, Miret sets the tone for the album proclaiming “this is for all you misfits, outcasts, rebels, hooligans and all you bruisers.” More of a straight up hardcore punk song, it’s a kind of a throwback to the Riot, Riot, Upstart era. Rancid’s track sounds like something that could have ended up on Honour is All We Know although a more accurate way to describe it would be Rancid playing an Old Firm Casuals song. Lars takes lead vocals on the track with Tim jumping in on backups. The track ‘Silence is the Only Rule’ sounds a little like The OFC cover of the Last Resorts ‘Violence in Our Minds’. It’s a solid punk track but it’s missing Matt’s signature solos, his bass lines are barely noticeable. Rancid’s comp tracks have always been solid and this is no exception.
It’s only a short release, 8 tracks. Concrete Elite put forward a heavy hitting Oi! Core track with ‘Above the Rest’ while Hard Evidence impress with their anthemic ‘Drums of War’. This by far my favourite on the release and it’s Oi! like this that’s keeping the genre going. It’s the kind of melodic Oi! you’d expect from Bishops Green or Marching Orders. Lars’ other band Oxley’s Midnight Runners perform the aptly titled ‘American Made’, a mid tempo punk song with some rock n’ roll licks, it’s sound very much in the vein of The Clash. No Resistance close with ‘Just a Little Bit’ a great melodic punk track with a subtle Celtic style. The track has an almost Oi! meets new wave feel of something the Angelic Upstarts could have put out in the early 80’s, it is a really killer track delivered with a lot of heart.
The comp is a fun listen and well worth ordering. Hard Evidence and No Resistance offer really memorable songs. I can’t emphasise enough how good those two songs are. It’s always good to hear new AF and Rancid and they’ve produced two well-crafted songs that fans will love. As a whole the comp has quite a bit of variety considering it’s showcasing US Oi! It felt a little like one of those old Give em’ the Boot comps, where you’d always get a cool Rancid song, maybe something from AF and amazing songs from bands you’d never heard of. The comp lives up to it’s title proving that Oi! is far from dead.