Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Art of Punk: …And Out Come The Wolves

…And Out Come The Wolves is arguably Rancid’s most loved and career-defining album. Released on 22nd August 1995, the album is coming up to its 21st birthday. I should really have written this post a year ago when the album turned 20 (except I wasn’t writing for this blog a year ago). The band celebrated …And Out Come The Wolves’ birthday, last year, by touring the world and playing the album in its entirety, as well as releasing a 20th anniversary edition of the album on vinyl (it’s gold!).

But now is still as good a time as any to write about such a brilliant album and an album with such iconic artwork as well. Featuring the classic stencil-style Rancid logo in red on top of a high contrast black and white image, the cover artwork for …And Out Come The Wolves is undoubtedly one of the most well-known album covers in punk rock – and probably 90s music in general.

Photographer and graphic designer Jesse Fischer is the man credited with creating the …And Out Come The Wolves artwork, as well as being a successful photographer for other Epitaph Records bands throughout the 90s – including NoFX, Pennywise and The Offspring. Check out his Discogs page to see just how many great bands he was involved with photographing.

The logo that appears on …And Out Come The Wolves has been in use consistently since the release of Rancid’s second album Let’s Go in 1994 – although the logo used on their very first album, released just a year before, is not so different as it still embraced the stencil-style font. It’s probably a small and insignificant detail for most people but I love how the Rancid logo is properly rough-around-the-edges and has additional ‘paint’ splattering outside of the letters themselves. It’s particularly noticeable on …And Out Come The Wolves as the red logo is so dominant on top of a (mostly) white background. And, of course, this imperfect and rough typography is the perfect match for Rancid’s music.

The album title itself appear to have been scribbled with a black biro and is far from perfect handwriting. It gives an impression of anger and adds a personal aspect to the artwork – much like the handwritten, and complete with mistakes, lyric sheet (see below).

As notable as the Rancid logo and typography is, it is of course the image on the cover of …And Out Come The Wolves that is most iconic. While the rough typography does a fine job of representing Rancid’s music, it doesn’t do quite as good a job as the tattooed, mohawk-wearing punk who graces the artwork.

You might recognise actual body position of the punk – sitting on a low step, arms crossed with his head resting on his arms and therefore concealing his face – from Minor Threat’s 1981 self-titled EP, designed by Susie Josephson and the band’s drummer Jeff Nelson. It’s no coincidence that the Rancid album features similar artwork as it was intended as a tribute to the renowned hardcore band.

The black, white and red theme continues throughout the rest of the artwork. In fact this is a colour scheme that epitomises Rancid – although their last album Honor Is All We Know used green alongside black and white, rather than red (notice how the album title imitates the …And Out Come The Wolves typography though!).

As I mentioned briefly above, the lyrics sheet – which in the case of the 20th anniversary vinyl edition appears on the inner sleeve – appears entirely handwritten and includes plenty of scribbles to indicate that it was written in ‘one take’. Although all one chunk of text, it’s easy to see where each track’s lyrics start as the title is larger than the rest of the text – and for 19 tracks I think this is necessary!

Oh, and did I mention the record itself is gold?