Redskins, Anti-Social Workers, Claire Dowie, Skint Video
NME, 23rd July, 1983
Brixton Old White Horse
At the door, an anarcho-newsboy does the hardsell: “Class War – only 10p”, “Cheap at twice the price,” muses a Redskin as he eyes the modest assembly of sedentary lager-slurping punters. They may be the converted but they’re hardly the stuff Revolutions are made of.
With the redthirsty Thatcher hatchet already poised over the GLC, you can bet your booties that GLC/Arts Council-assisted do’s like these decidedly left-field New Variety packages will among the first things to go, after Red Ken.Tonight, all the right (sic) targets were raised and shot down with predictable accuracy.
Skint Video, an amusing two-man hit squad, had a jab at Nuclear War, Chas and Dave, ‘Monarchy in the U.K.’ (sing it Charles) and a cautionary ‘Message’ about running down the NHS: “It ain’t so super/Sometimes it makes me wonder why I keep from joining BUPA”.
Claire Dowie, a gamine figure, was not so much a poet but a feminist cartoon mouthpiece for the Trials and Tribulations of Womanhood. She’s original and talented with a wry sardonic line on bedfellowship., PMT and would-be mugges’ victims who feel ‘stood up’ after not getting raped, robbed and murdered on the ten minute walk home, but she got rather cringe-making when she ploughed into a confessional spiel on the Big O (orgasm, not Orbison, dear).
The Anti-Social Workers, four young persons of various cult-persuasions, had the novel idea of singing and toasting over tasty dub tracks courtesy of the Mad Professor and suchlike. I suppose the novelty lay in their being white and the sentiments expressed – ‘Hands Off Poland’, ‘Coexist In Peace’, ‘Get Out Off Your Bunker And Look For Work!’ – but when the lead ranter started in with the Joe Strummer style delivery, I remembered The Clash, just when I’d forgotten them.
So far, so safe. The better Red than dead Skins put a little venom into the proceedings. The Redskins are the perfect scour, the leftie loofah to the Thatcherist scourge. Their brief set wasn’t their zenith musically (the trio sounds best when augmented by brass, as on their single and Peel sessions) but it demonstrated a pulverising abrasiveness guaranteed to clean clear round hose irritating U-turns to combat Tory kling-on. (If only.)
Young, proud, undiluted in spirit, The Redskins aren’t exactly the epitome of finesse. They use the skinhead image to suggest resolve, bravado and hard conviction. It gets up the nose of blue-bloods for a start. Then, Chris Dean’s gruff bark is a rallying cry to ‘Kick Over the Statues’, ‘Unionize!’, and ”Take No Heroes’, every song a sloganeering anthem, with ‘Reds Strike The Blues’ the ‘piece de resistance’ – a whirlwind of revved up rockin’ protest.
The Reskins’ extremism brings a welcome flush to the rather pallid complexion just now, and when they come up with those hit-tunes, it’ll be red skies over Romford. Until then, rant against Thatcher (you know it makes sense) and don’t let anyone convince you that politics and music don’t mix. They’d have you believe that ‘Devil Woman’ had never been written.