Twenty years ago ska-loving punks the world over were still in mourning over Operation Ivy’s breakup when word got around that Op Ivy guitarist Tim “Lint” Armstrong and bassist Matt Freeman had started a new band called Rancid. Though preexisting Op Ivy fans would make up most of the initial audience for the group’s debut album when it was released the next year, Rancid would go on to become one of the most commercially successful punk bands to retain more than a modicum of credibility in the scene. To commemorate the group’s accomplishments, Pirate Press Records is releasing a box set to end all box sets: the band’s entire catalog remastered and pressed on 46 seven-inch singles, available on red, white, or white-with-red-splatter vinyl. In defiance of the very definition of its title, Rancid Essentials, the set includes not only such seminal albums as Let’s Go and . . . And Out Come the Wolves but also the less-than-essential 2009 record Let the Dominoes Fall in both electric and even-less-essential acoustic versions, plus the rarities collection B Sides and C Sides, whose title alone fairly screams “you can go ahead and skip this one.” The mail-order-only white-vinyl version comes with a Louisville Slugger emblazoned with the Rancid logo, making it to my knowledge the only band merchandise released this year that you could conceivably beat someone to death with.
Rancid fans who don’t want to lay out the presumably ridiculous amount of money the entire set will cost—pricing info hasn’t been released yet—but who still want the experience of listening to an entire album-length recording while turning over the record every two songs can purchase individual albums as multisingle sets. For a more a la carte experience, or in case you’re a truly maniacal completist, each of the set’s 46 singles will be available as a stand-alone 45 pressed on virgin black vinyl.
Preorders begin tomorrow, and while this is obviously the most ridiculous thing ever, if someone picked me up a copy I wouldn’t be mad at it. Xmas is just around the corner, you know.