The indie album chart from Sounds, 30 April, 1983.
Backs Against the Wall zine, number 5, 1989 looks back at skinhead through the turbulent 80s. The zine’s editor, Dudley, was at the forefront of ‘sussed’ skinhead.
In the last four – five years in Britain there has been a fundamental shift in the evolution of the Skinhead phenomenon. There have always been skinheads, since the revival in 1977, that have been predominantly interested in dressing to much the original way of ’69 – ’72, and listening to a lot more to 1968 – ’73 reggae (tagged together to be known as skinhead reggae) than punk/oi.
In the early 80s these skinheads were, let’s say, ‘content’ to live their own lives while the racist punks who call themselves skinheads fooled the media, and therefore the public, that a stiff right arm was essential to being a skinhead, of course to people in the know this was more of a fairy-tale than someone suggesting that Engand had a good football team.
The main focus of the inevitable split that was coming was Hard As Nails zine and Skrewdriver. Skrewdriver were and are the big motivators of the underground (very underground) nazi movement that the racist punk ‘skinheads’ flocked to, more interested in racist politics, banal music and paramilitary uniforms than the years old natural idea of skinhead as lovers of slick dress, football and melodic beat music as in early ska, reggae, two tone, soul, and some punk and oi.
Hard As Nails took the views that a large number of skinheads held, and became the vocal point for the premise of 1969 style and music updated to the 80s through the then emerging new ska bands. As it was the first zine inside the skinhead scene that openly questioned the nazis right to use the name of skinhead when it was plainly obvious that they were not skinheads, HaN came in for the expected moronic criticisms that they were splitting the skinhead scene and were commies anyway. The logic being that anyone who is not a nazi must ne a commie, it takes more than one brain cell to see through this pathetic attitude, unfortunatly nazis brain cells do not often exceed the singular. As for splitting the scene, it is repulsive to most normal thinking people (and skins) to associate in any way with nazis.
Since then Skrewdriver have continued to sink lower and lower into out and out stormtroopers and even further away from an accepted skinhead way. While Hard As Nails is long gone, other zines have taken up its message, Spy Kids, Backs Against The wall, Street Feeling, Rough & Tough, Traditional Lemonheads and perhaps the best Zoot. Ska bands have sprung up in abundance and most encouragingly from all corners of the world, Britain, USA, Germany, Italy etc. Ska gigs have in the last six months become the norm rather than the exception, including the highly successful series of ska festivals held in London, which look set to continue, for the rest of the year at least.
There are regualr do’s and events up and down Britain playing non-stop 6Ts ska, soul and skinhead reggae. The talk of who’s got the best gear, Bens/Brutus/crombie etc is as of much interest as the latest record release or how your football team did on saturday.
The numbers of these true skinheads in Britain is growing every day, enough to make the optimistic feel that 1989 is gonna be our year again, first 1969, then 1979, it’s gotta be ain’t it.
From California to aris, London to Munich, Cardiff to Savona, Glasgow to Dublin, Manchester to Tokyo, it’s the sound of NOW, fuck the goose-step, DO THE MOONSTOMP.
This poem by the much missed Jon Beast, along with Daz Brown, featured in Wake Up, number 5, 1985.
Give Them Enough Dope
From the skinheads who like kicking mods
To the ‘arty’ punks in black
‘Anarchy’s’ become another term
To stencil on your back
The music is just a catalyst
To get the message across
Try teaching these diffrent factions
And the message will be lost
The Pistols didn’t mean it maaaaaaan
I’m sure that they all knew
They were being marketed
Now can’t you see that too?
You pay five quid to stand and pose
With three hundred more like you
You swear you’re all individuals
Just WHO is conning WHO?
Buy a tee shirt for five ninety nine
Be moody, never smile
You’ve seen Alien Sex Kitten 14 times
And think that punk is vile
So you think you are all rebels
But underneath you’re all the same
It’s not the way you wear your clothes
It’s the way you use your brain
You’re always worried about your eye make up
Or the right soap for your hair
If the revolution started tomorrow
You’d be discussing what to wear
The Exploited didn’t mean it maaaaaaan
They only did it for the glue
They learnt it from the Pistols maaaaaaan
And now they’re exploiting you
AND NOW THEY’RE EXPLOITING YOU
Jon Beast and Daz Brown
The cheery as ever NME reviews Vicious Rumours, 5 December, 1987.
The Sickest Men In Town
(Link LP only)
An LP devoid of musical worth, humour and charm from a sarf London skinhead cabaret combo with an alarming propensity to strip off and pretend to shout when a camera is pointed in their direction.
Over anachronistic Lurkers-style guitar, Vicious Rumours sing about ‘good times’ on the pull, on the piss and on the job. Their act is clearly based on the Macc Lads, but i don’t think you’d catch even those numbsulls chorusing, “You’ve gotta whip it out of your pants/You’ve gotta whip it out of your pants/You’ve gotta whip it out of your pants/And dangle your plums.”
Venereal disease, pregnant girlfriends and not getting their ‘share of the women’ would appear to be the only stumbling blocks Vicious Rumours envisage ever having to circumnavigate in life. It is time they addressed themselves to the very real problem of having made a ludicrously poor LP.
The Notsensibles from Burnley profiled in The Wool City Rocker, June-July, 1980.
They’ve brought out two singles ‘Death to Disco’ & ‘(I’m in love with) Margaret Thatcher’, both on their own Redball Records label. The second of these went to no.5 in the Sounds alternative charts. I’m told that they’ve also got an album now out that’s called ‘Instant Classics’.
A fun & slightly anarchic band with a rough & raw sound, they’ve not had an easy time finding venues in their area that’ll accept them. Several of their early gigs were prematurely terminated by management at the venues. Through The Collective they have helped to build up an active scene in the Burnley/Nelson/Colne area.
The band & The Collective had sizeable write-ups in The Guardian & The Artful Reporter last January & the band has regularly had good coverage in some of the national music papers – notably Sounds.
Having worked hard over the past two years in what was a very low-profile local rock scene, they’ve built up a solid following, but are still short of gigs outside their home county. They’re currently trying to line up some Yorks. bookings & should be over here in the autumn. If recent reviews are anything to go by, they should be worth catching.
The Bad Brains did a blistering tour of Britain in 1983. Soundmaker, 21 May, 1983 reviews one of the gigs.
Sometimes being original, nay unique, can work against you. A black New York Rastafarian hardcore punk reggae band? You’ve got to be kidding me! Terrible memories of Pure Hell remain as a warning against facile cross-cultural fertilization of cultures, an insult to both Punk and black music.
On of the great things about the Sex Pistols was the bravado with which they mashed up their audience with the heaviest in dub before they went and played some of the most wonderful rockist white trash music to be played for years. Punk and reggae always went together, even if they were at opposite ends of the spectrum. It took 2-Tone to play music that truly stood midway between Punk and Reggae, but it did that by going BACK. Two steps forward, three steps back – great music.
It’s still possible to experience music that proves that all of these so-called “opposing” styles are merely marketing ploys, aids to help people who don’t have ears to choos the music they consume. That experience is THE BAD BRAINS. (Or is it Bad Brains – everything is in flux round here). What do you get?
You gt four black New Yorkers who know what they’re about, who play their instruments, who actually (in these jaded times) like what they play. They play punk songs, surreally short, which introduce instant chaos in front of the stage. Through these thrashes whines a guitar that screams, moans, cries, lush wild and heavy.
Is this the Small Faces circa 1966 or is this Jimi Hendrix? Is this Garageland thrash or Psychedelia? Are these obviously skillful musicians parodying the excesses of incompetent white tributes to R ‘n’ B or have they heard something in that – something they want to make themselves? I would argue the latter. The punk they play is too sharp, the explosions too lovingly honed and directed for this to be lazy satire. The singers gestures are magnificent, this is a man who has learnt from the source: anyone remember Iggy Pop?
The reggae they play – welcome respite from the adrenalin surges that surround it – is clipped, modern, militant. What Misty would sound like if they lost their woolliness, their community-centre safeness. The singer raps about the revolution (“You have to go to it – it will not come to you“) and racism, transfixing moral lessons that hark back to the revivalism of Jerry Lee Lewis, the apocalyptical poetry of Aretha’s dad (the Reverend CL Franklin), the challenge of the MC5.
The audience was stunned. So was I.