Tag Archives: the Business

Bandits At 4 O’Clock

Steve Kent from The Business and Nick Austin, previously of Chelsea, were members of this band reviewed by Susan ‘Seething Wells’ Williams in the NME, 25 February, 1984. The lad was spot on about The Smiths.

Bandits At 4 O’Clock
Leeds The Bierkeller

Dear Reader,
YOU WIMP! So the manky Manc misery merchants – purveyors of itty-bitty dribble-chinned gumby rhumba-toons got your vote for this year’s Great White Hope, eh? Hey Man, You still into Combat 84? God how passé! Don’tcha know it’s ‘BünkerFunk’ this time around?
You spineless filth. You jellyfish. You make me ill.
There are bands out there comprised of eager boys still screaming their bollocks off over such hackneyed motifs as ENERGY! (groan) HONESTY! (yawn) and, of course, AGGRESSION! (simper) from whom we barely hear a whisper such is your obsession with transvestism, fringes, sexually transmitted diseases and plastic fascism.
Such a band are the Bandits. Four chaps who probably have the word PASSION tattooed in black and red across their tightly clenched buttocks. They have style, they have guitars held at cock height, they are devilishly spunky, they have tons of tunes and as such they are doomed to shatter on the thick woolly hide of your miserable parochialism. You should be ashamed!
If I could write bad ennuff I would defect to Sounds, knowing that there I’d find a readership hip to the latest in pig-ignorant machismo, a foible infinitely more attractive than your drooling over grey cerebral pap.
It’s a matter of taste, Pal.
I’ve got it. You haven’t.

Susan Williams

Skunk Rock ’81

Sounds, 11 July, 1981, reports the New Punk Conference.

Skunk Rock ’81

Fifty-seven assorted herberts packed into the ill-publicised New Punk conference in the Conway Hall, Holborn, last Sunday. Not exactly the storming of the Bastille but none the less a small positive step towards uniting the diverse factions of eighties pogoramists.
There they sat, a hairdresser’s nightmare of flaming pinks, crops, spikes and wigs (sorry Tom) – from Cardiff young speed-freaks the Partisans, from Bristol bondaged last rockers Vice Squad, all the way from Wearside a weary and scurvy-infected Olga Toydoll, and up from Herne Bay cyclopic skin hero Roi of Last Resort. Sadly other provincial faves like Blitz, the Strike, the Upstarts, the Exploited et al were either brassic or touring, but London was well-represented in the shape of various 4-Skins, Lee of Infa-Riot, and delegates from Clockwork Rebel, the Business, Angela Rippons Bum, Splodge, Combat 84, the Affected, the Docs, Twisted Moralities, TDA, the Gonads, the Bomb, the Elite and the Urban Dissidents – a veritable xeroxland jamboree.
First off on the subject of gigs, delegates proffered a variety of sympathetic local venues which Business manager Laurie Prior (WHUFC and bar) is currently investigating with a view to organising more Punk/Oi Festivals round the country, and establishing a permanent London punk venue where out of town bands can be sure of a gig. Meanwhile Lee Wilson is working on a Wood Green venue which could well become the Roxy of ’81. And it was felt that bands should stay in as much touch as possible and try and arrange gig ‘swaps’ with each other around the country.
Gary Hitchcock (4-Skins manager) bemoaned the ‘trouble’ tag attached to Oi bands when bands like the 4 Skins/Strike/Business etc had never had a whiff of same. Hoxton Tom reckoned benefit gigs were one way of clearing the band’s names while helping causes they believed in. he recommended the Prisoners Rights Organisation and volunteered to work with them towards organising a festival. Laurie Pryor undertook to contact Anti-Unemployment Organisations as the fight against the dole queues was a cause we all supported even if he/we didn’t agree with the politics of many of those involved in those organisations.
Mark of Barnet’s Clockwork Rebel claimed that much of the supposed antagonism between skins and punks was down to “widespread misunderstanding” and “things were definitely improving.” Later Chris of Combat 84 the propagation of Skunk Rock (Skinhead and punk) while Beki of Vice Squad reckoned that skins and punks got on just fine in Bristol, though Shane of same criticised ‘Strength Thru Oi’ (Too risky – Street Ed) as being “too skinhead orientated.” I agree to an extent and invited Vice Squad to co-star on the third Oi album ‘Carry On Oi’ to redress the balance. It’ll be the definitive punk/skin/Herbert mix coming out on Secret Records in September and I await their answer eagerly.
Gez Lowry was delegated in his absence (only the trusty Charlton-orientated On The Waterfront ‘zine had turned up) to co-ordinate a national network of sympathetic ‘zines. Sadly after a while everything dissolved into a private conflabs – only dodgy incident being the snidey activities of a mysterious and shady looking moustachio’d geezer passing amongst the ranks claiming to represent Secret Records (Secret have disowned him and so should you).
General conclusion seemed to be that punks and skins should work together against the common enemies, kids in every locality should put on their own gigs, form their own labels (or work with trustworthy independents), start their own fanzines, and work with good local causes if there are any – in other words, be active, keep things happening and don’t give up the fight!
And next time we have a Conference it’ll be a bit better organised. Honest.

Garry Bushell


The Business – New Mania

From New Mania no 5, 1981

The Business are a band from Lewisham in south London. Their only vinyl output at the time of the interview is two tracks, “Product” and “Suburban Rebels” on the Carry On Oi! LP, although they are due to have a single released on Secret records. This interview took place in a pub near Charing Cross station with Steve Kent, Quint Smith and manager Lol Pryor. So that’s the introductions over, let’s get to (the) business…

When did Business start?
October ’79, although we didn’t get serious until the next year. The first gig was in February that year at this girl’s party in Waterloo. We had been talking about forming a band for ages. We started off doing covers, before writing our own.

What were your first gigs like?
The first ones were just arranged through friends. We played at small pubs, gradually working up to better pubs. We played one gig at Guy’s Hospital.

What happened at that Rock Garden gig?
We were supporting a “Rough Trade” type band, called Vincent Units. We arrived at opening time, so by the time we went on, around 10.15, we was more than drunk. It was the first time we’d played up the West End and the place was packed with our mates. The owner said we were “generally unruly” and the sound engineer said we was the best band to play there since the Sex Pistols. The manager of the place didn’t have the guts to tell us to our face that we’re banned, he waited until he phoned us up the next day.

What do you think of the gig at the Bridge House with Cock Sparrer, 4-Skins etc? Cos I didn’t think the sound was really good.
Well, we nearly went home because we was being mucked about so much. The bloke at the place said we had to go on at 8 o’clock or not at all. When we went on the place was empty. If it hadn’t been Garry Bushell’s birthday we would have gone home. The guitar sounded like a ukelele. I think that gig done us more harm than good.

How did the gig at Southall with the Last Resort and 4-Skins come about?
We was going to do three gigs with them on an alternate headline basis. The 4-Skins headlining at Southall, Last Resort at Hastings and us at Crayford Town Hall. In the end that was the only gig of the three.

What happened when you got to Southall?
We didn’t get there until 8 o’clock. We got as far as the road to the Hamborough Tavern was in. There was a big traffic jam so we asked an Asian woman what was going on and she said there was an accident. Then about fifty Asians steamed into the van, so we wound the windows up and shot off down the road towards the Hamborough Tavern and ended up in the forecourt. We went into the pub, which was packed, and went straight on stage.

Did you get all the way through the set?
We only had 25 minutes to play and the singer just picked out the songs as we went along.

Who do you think was to blame for the trouble?
The police. They should have moved the Asians or called the gig off. Trouble could have been avoided.

After Southall, I suppose it was pretty hard getting gigs?
We tried lots of places. Some said wait until things cool down, and others said “no chance”.

Don’t you think you are now branded as “Oi!”, along with the other bands at Southall, even though your music is much different?
In our first poster we said we were an “oi-punk” band. Oi! is just something you get called, rather than something you are. Oi! is punk, 1981 punk.

Do you think you could appeal to a larger, wider audience than the other bands currently under the Oi! banner?
Yes. We appeal to the punks, the Skinheads and the herberts, the lads in the pub. It depends a lot on the area you live in. A lot of punk bands don’t want to get across to the 20-22 year olds who ain’t punk or Skinhead. No-one has really tried to get across to these people.

What sort of things do you write about?
Steve writes most of the words, but we don’t really sit down and try to write about anything in particular. We write about anything that’s in our heads.

Do you think the Oi! tag has done you more harm than good?
Being in with the Oi! tag did get us more gigs at first, as well as getting a record out. Now that’s all been cancelled out as no-one will put us on.

Are you signed to a gig agency?
No. We haven’t got much faith in agencies. They just get you gigs at places we’d try, but they take 15%. We just ring up places ourselves.

One side of your single is “National Insurance Blacklist”. What’s that about?
It’s about a blacklist for extreme trade unionists and rebels that cause a lot of grief for the government. They take the National Insurance number and when they go for another job, it cuts their chances down. (There is a monster said not to exist, they call it the Employer’s Blacklist.)

The other, “Harry May”, what is the story behind that?
Harry May is a well-known south London celebrity and ‘Robin Hood’, in no way a villain, contrary to rumours spread by the Metropolitan Police.

What is the deal with Secret Records?
A shady one! It’s an optional deal where, if the first single does well, then we’ll do another one. “Harry May” was going to be on the Oi! LP originally but Secret wanted to put it on the single.

What does the future hold in store for the band?
There are a couple of promotors in Dublin prepared to put on an Oi! package, so hopefully we’ll play there sometime. There’s also talk of New York dates sometime in 1982. Finally we’d like to find out whether ‘Crowd’s Favourite’ and Mickey have got a good thing going…

I sensed that this signalled the end of the serious conversation. So, I made my excuses and headed back to Charing Cross and boarded the train home…


Skinhead Culture

From Sounds, November 10th, 1984

The recent Desmond Dekker show at Dingwalls was something of a revelation. Down the front were a score or more skanking skinheads, not yer usual clods in combats with a tube of Airfix stuck in their back pockets and ‘cut here’ temptingly tattooed across their Adam’s Apple.
No, these sharp-dressed droogs were sporting whistles and brogues.
“The blokes were in Dogtooth, Prince Of Wales check or Tonik suits,” wiry Hard As Nails fanzine co-editor ‘tattoo’ Paul grins in delight at the memory, “and the birds were in Trevira, proper penny loafers and lacey tights. They looked the business.”
Just one of the many signs of a skinhead renewal taking place in our green and pleasant. Not so much a case of ‘Skins are back’, more a re-emergence of original skinhead ideals.
The degeneration of skinhead as a style over the last two years can be traced directly to the dissipation of 2-Tone and the failure of Oi! to rebuild after the Southall disaster, in particular with the demise of the original 4-Skins, the original Business, Blitz and the Violators.
As the skinhead scene turned sour, the cream of the last generation either went casual or straight, while the gumbies stayed as dumb as ever.
The new emerging skinhead scene is too sussed to dabble in dodgy political extremes, just as its exponents are too smart to settle for the scarecrow look when there’s still decent Ben Shermans and ox-blood Royals to be had. Best of all, it’s not just a London thing.
The main bands are Burial from the Scarborough area, and Red London from the North east (who are much better live than their wishy washy Razor vinyl outings would have you believe).
There’s also the Oppressed from South Wales (who are spirited but too derivative and stuck in 1980 for their own good) and most intriguing of the lot the Marylebone Martyrs, a South London soul/ska suedehead band kept out of this round up only by their lamentable lack of a guitarist.
Mobs to be proud of include the legendary South End Clockwork Patrol, the Britannia Scooter Club, and the Cardiff skins who populate the Lexington where the juke box jumps to the sounds of Trojan, Sham and the Cockney Rejects, the new skin scene remembering its roots enough to think as much, if not more, of ‘Tighten Up’ and 2-Tone as the sharper Oi! bands.
In London, sussed skins have congregated over the Autumn for the Wednesday night Revival Express at Gossips, featuring selections from the Trojan, Sue, Studio One, Coxsone, Stax and Motown catalogues, not to mention new cropped personalities like French Cyrille and Millwall Trev. having recently parted company with Gossips, the Revival Express will be re-opening at another central London location shortly.
Peaceful co-existance with Mods is another healthy development (doubtless fuelled by the on-going phenomenon of scooter skins), and the movement’s equivalent of Sniffing Glue (or Maximum Speed) is Hard As Nails produced by a couple of rogues from Canvey Island called Paul and Ian.


The front of the next issue is headlined ‘Sussed skins against the scum’ and features a smart skin with a neat Ben Sherman and a Trojan Reggae tattoo having ‘words’ with a typical ’84 scruff.
“I genuinely hope sussed people can take skinhead back from the scruffs,” says Ian over a pint of ben Top.
“Most so-called skinheads today are just bald punks. Skins had nothing to do wit bald heads, sniffing glue and birds in 18 hole docs.”
Both Ian and Paul are British Telecom workers in their early 20s and they insist that HaN is a style mag. They first started their ‘zine in August 1983, inspired by the Phoenix List, the weekly Mod news sheet/event guide.
“We wanted to create a focal point for sussed skins,” says Paul.
“In many ways it was a reaction against the skin scene, ” adds Ian, “which was dominated by the Last Resort or the Sun idea of skins rather than the real ’69 skin-ideals.”
“Even the TV reflected the glueheads, the bald punks rather than real skins,” says Paul.
Why do you think the skinhead movement went wrong?
Ian: “Because of punk. In some ways it was positive, it brought about the revival but too many people followed the wrong line.”
Paul: “Skinheads became just an extension of the punk shock thing with the bald heads and the tattoos on the forehead – it doesn’t make you look hard, it makes you a laughing stock.”
Ian: “Real skins have got more in common with Mod than with punk. The bald punks, the Last Resort skins, picked up a real moron element, people who think it’s hard to be ignorant.”
Paul: “Being working class doesn’t mean being a thick gumbie, that’s what’s been wrong with skin ‘zines before.”
Ian: “They’ve been patronizing, they’ve talked down to people. Y’know, pages with one big pic and twelve words. Or that Chris Ryan book with print like a Janet And John book.”
What about the positive side of skins?
Paul: “My great hopes for the future are Burial, the Redskins, and the Oppressed, even though their lyrics are a bit caricature.”
Ian: “Whether you like their politics or not, the Redskins are the only band with real chart potential at present, the only ones who can appeal to a wider audience like the Specials did. Sussed skins like the Redskins more for their music than their politics.”
Paul: “The Specials AKA are the only relevant 2-Tone band left – there’s always got to be room for reggae and ska in any skin movement.”
And the future?
Ian: “There’s a small healthy revival, or should I say continuation of skinhead ideas. There are pockets of people all over the country, but I hope it never becomes a mass thing again because then it’d become commercialised. Hard As Nails is about skinhead style first and foremost. We’re the Face of Oi! and the voice of ’69.”
Hard As Nails has appeared three times, firstly as a limited experimental run of just 75. The second issue sold 250 copies and the last one has sold 300 and will probably run to another print (send large SAE and 30p to PO Box 11, Canvey Island, Essex SS8 9RY for a sample). The next issue, the Xmas edition, comes out soon and pride of place inside it will be an interview with Burial.

Impressed by the merry Madness/early Specials style ska of ‘Old man’s Poison’ balanced by the bite of the more Oi-some ode ‘Friday Night’, I recently journeyed to Scarborough’s Elvanhome Club to catch Burial’s live act, which showcased a similarly spiffing split personality.
Variously consisting of nifty bluebeat beauts and beefy Oi! excursions, the highlight of the set came with the crazed calypso of ‘Sheila’, a number already described by one expert as sounding ‘like a head-on collision between a sulphate-charged Kid Creole and Bad Manners on a beano’.
Earlier we congregated for a conflab in guitarist Barney’s bedsit, attractively decorated with old Sounds skin features. As well as barney and Chris, there’s vocalist Mick, bassist Ashley and drummer Charlie. Also contributing live is moonstomping man-mountain Nick, a cross between Chas Smash and H from the Rejects days. He’s 22 and a shop steward, four years older than the others who are variously dole boys, industrial butchers, and in Chris’s case, ‘part time God’.
Inspired by 2-Tone and early Oi!, Burial hailed from neighbouring Malton and first gigged in 1981 as a four-piece, with Upstarts fan Barney (from Lefthouse near Middlesborough) completing the line-up in ’83 after leaving his first band England Today.
“The skinhead scene was a great laugh back in 1980,” says Ashley, “I don’t think it’ll ever be the same again.”
“It was dance music, ” says Mick, “and that’s what Burial are trying to bring back. I like everything from Rod Stewart to Motown. The 4-Tops and Diana Ross made the best music of all time – apart from Sham. That’s why our set consists of punk, ska and calypso. We’ll play anything that appeals to us, and our songs are all about everyday life.”
What about thrash?
Chris: “We’d never play that, it’s too boring.”
Barney: “Some of the message is good, but I don’t like the medium they use.”
Mick: “We did used to write songs about the bomb and that, but it got too bleeding miserable. My attitude is while we’re here, let’s have a laugh. Only about a hundred people have got any say about dropping the bomb anyway. I’m no coward but if I ever saw a mushroom cloud, well, I’m a butcher, I’ve got a knife on me all the time, and I’d cut me throat straight away.”
Their chief concern is the decline of skinhead music.
“The music declined because the bands got bloody bad, ” says Chris, “and so much crap was coming out. Too many bands were copying GBH and couldn’t play a note. There’s not one band left from ’81.”

Currently the band are trying to link with Weller’s Respond label and/or the Madness Zarjazz adventure – the nutty ones apparently being on the look out for a ‘really good’ skinhead band.
“We don’t want to sign with some two bob outfit,” says Barney, “just as we don’t wanna be confined to one sort of music. We won’t be categorised.”
Charlie: “We ain’t aiming to be pop stars, but we don’t wanna get stuck in a rut either. We wanna get across to people.”
And that means all people – no spurious North/South, black/white divides with these boys, who, like the HaN herberts, happily co-exist with Mods and admit to hankering after scooters when spondulicks permit.
“A lot of misleading crap has been written about skinheads,” says Barney, “due to an ignorant minority, and we’ve all got tarred with the same brush.”
Mick: “At our Stockton gig the other night I talked to a lot of skinheads and during the gig I made this speech.”
Barney: “What was said, right, was ‘You read in the papers that all skinheads are thick fascist thugs. I’m not a thick fascist thug. Are there any thick fascist thugs in here?’ There wasn’t one response. And Mick said ‘The way to do it is not fighting among ourselves, it’s unity.’ All the skinheads were chanting: ‘UNITED! UNITED! UNITED!'”
Music to the ears and the only way, repeat ONLY way, the new skinhead scene will survive and thrive.