Throughout Rancid’s history the punk icons have developed an international following of fans and musicians alike. After years of planning, Smelvis Records founder Elvis Cortez (Transplants / Left Alone) faced the enormous web of artists influenced by Rancid head on and put them together for Hooligans United: A Tribute to Rancid. A majority of Rancid‘s catalog makes an appearance in this massive undertaking spanning two CDs or three vinyl records and a bonus digital download card. Whether the bands were an international phenomenon, or a local sensation Smelvis pooled them together in this release.
Hooligans United is not just a bunch of bands reproducing Rancid’s sound. The artists on this record throw their own signature onto their respective track producing a multifaceted release. Even with an impressive collection of 71 artists on this album (including bonus content) finding tracks that merely copy the original version is surprisingly difficult. However, the unique interpretations allow Rancid’s familiar style find its way into every last detail of the release. The marathon of covers last nearly three hours and take fan favorites into uncharted territory by branching into many different genres. In terms of pacing Smelvis Records’ Elvis Cortez and Rancid front man Tim Armstrong sequenced the album to allow the eclectic mix to smoothly transition between tracks and genres. Punk, ska, country, reggae, and psychobilly all make their presence known while keeping the iconic spirit Rancid fans have come to know and love.
The compilation boasts names like Death By Stereo, Street Dogs, Big D and The Kids Table, Voodoo Glow Skulls, and Mustard Plug alongside a few of Smelvis’s signature Spanish ska punk bands. It’s nice to see big names included but some of the most obscure and unique tracks come from bands that may fly under the radar.
Even without Rancid’s exclusively male vocals, female fronted offenders The Last Gang and The Interrupters give Tim Armstrong a run for his money. In a completely different direction; Rancid and country may have seemed like oil and water in the past, but Holy Ghost, The Tokyo Brave, and Kevin Seconds produce a Stagecoach worthy version of Rancid classics. Hooligans United also hops international borders to include tracks by Japanese punkers GOOD4Nothing and The China Wife Motors.
Death By Stereo’s aggressive version of “Rejected”, Manic Hispanic’s reworded “My Tia (Adina)”, and the heartfelt version of “Tattoo” from Black Rose Phantoms all stand out in this writer’s book. Partners in crime Rick Thorne and Assuming We Survive’s Adrian Estrella join forces for a compelling version of “Fall Back Down”. Koffin Kats, Mad Sin, and Motel Drive proved Rancid could have gone down the Psychobilly route too. A few reggae tracks including Authority Zero’s “I Wanna Riot” and The Bunny Gang’s “International Cover Up” round out the album making Hooligans United appeal to fans of other genres and super fans alike.
Overall the decision to have bands capitalize on their own unique flair works in the album’s favor. By the Barricade recommends Hooligans United for those Rancid fans willing to travel off the beaten path, and to fans of the bands featured. Rancid purists might need some time to adopt the new renditions, but after a few spins you’re bound to be singing along to the familiar tracks whether they are in Spanish or English.
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