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NOFX/Rancid 

BYO Split Series Volume III (BYO)

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If Rancid is punk's conscience, NOFX is its libido. The former sings of union-busting and genocide in Rwanda; the latter touches mainly on beer bongs and porn, dropping such feminist-baiting lines as "Catherine [MacKinnon] should get busy porkin' that dolt Andrea Dworkin/I think they both need a good, hard fuck."

Consequently, a pairing of the two, where each covers the other's songs, sounds like a match made in mohawk heaven: punk's politics colliding with its sexuality to form a balanced, brawling whole.

But though there are definitely some puerile thrills to be had in hearing Rancid's ultra-earnest Lars Frederiksen sing "Don't ever take, away from me, my pornography" on "Vanilla Sex" or NOFX's womanizing Fat Mike raging against sexism on album highlight "Antennaes," all-too-often this comp sounds forced. This is most obvious on NOFX's somnolent ska version of the incendiary "Radio" and Rancid's godawful take on "Don't Call Me White." Marred by Matt Freeman's terrible strained vocals, which sound like they were recorded while he was on the toilet, the song demonstrates why Freeman's voice has largely been absent from the last couple of Rancid records.

Still, the material here is so strong -- all 12 cuts are damn near punk classics in their original form -- that the damage is limited. Kind of like Rancid's capacity for sex talk. And NOFX's motor skills.

More by Jason Bracelin

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