Please note the items you are about to read consist largely of scurrilous gossip, vicious back-stabbing and idle speculation. As Jon Stewart might say, its stories are not fact checked. Its informants are not journalists. And its opinions are not fully thought through.
Feb 28. Vive Le Rock’s film festival takes place in London across a number of venues next month. These include: 21/3: Uncaged - Brix Smith and The Extricated, film & live band, the 100 Club. 23/3: Julien Temple presents Dave Davies - Kinkdom Come + Q&A, and Ray Davies - Imaginary Man Film + Q&A at Regent Street Cinema. 24/3: Descent into the Maelstrom - The Radio Birdman Story UK Premiere + Q&A, Regent Street Cinema. 25/3: The Go-Betweens: Right Here, Genesis Cinema, Mile End. 25/3: Here to be Heard: The Story of The Slits + Q&A, and A Shot of Whisky about the Whisky A GoGo + Q&A Regent Street Cinema. 25/3: Lee Thompson - One Man’s Madness + Live Band, 100 Club. 26/3: A Vision of Paradise + Lee Scratch Perry Live + DJs, Koko. 26/3: Here to be Heard: The Story of The Slits + Q&A, Art House Crouch End. 27/3: Bunch of Kunst: A film about Sleaford Mods + Q&A, Genesis Cinema. 27/3: Here to be Heard: The Story of The Slits + Q&A, Genesis Cinema. 28/3: Vive Le Rock Awards, O2 Academy Islington.
Feb 27. Waistrel wants more curry on the blog, so here we go – the first Gonads’ Ruby of the year! The band braved the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ Siberian snow storm for last night’s gathering, battling through blizzards, hail and ice (A light dusting of snow that didn’t settle – Factual Ed) to come together as true Gonads always do. Only Clyde Ward failed to get there, raising “unnecessary and preposterous doubts” about his commitment to our greater glory. So jolly was the atmosphere that some gig announcements may follow. Cheers!
*PS. In a shock twist, the proprietors of Sidcup’s esteemed Punk Rock Curry Club venue announced last night that they have BANNED Lee Wilson from their fine establishment permanently. When asked why, boss Feroze Mafani told us: “He has an unpleasant, surly air and meanness hangs around him like a shroud.” Yes, that’s true. Feroze went on: “Wilson complained about eating here in Vive Le Rock, which we must say is not a patch on Street Sounds. Also when he came here, he did not leave a tip. But what really swung our decision was his unpleasantness about deaf people. When we read about that on the Gonads blog we knew that we had to ban the rascal. He is a bad man, a very, very, very bad man.” Sad but true.
*Stunned Corbynista Wattsie Watts yesterday recalled the fateful day she, like her political guru, was targeted by an Eastern bloc Communist spy. “It happened in Weimar in East Germany,” she told this blog. “The agent looked like Buddy Ascott’s love-child. He took me to one side after we had played and started using espionage phrases.” What did he say, we asked in breathless excitement? “German cocks are bigger,” she replied. Mercifully she was not infiltrated.
Grumpy old man Waistrel has ordered us to end our Reasons to love Skinhead Culture series today, which is a bit of a blow because there was so much more we wanted to cram in. For starters: skinhead ink, skin stores and emporiums like Oi Oi The Shop, skinhead bars and pubs, Doctor Marten boots, the Skinhead Reunion fest in Brighton, Madness weekends at Butlin’s... We had also planned a detailed entry on the sub-cultures skinheads involved into – suedeheads, smoothes and bootboys back in the day; Glory Boys, Casuals & Scooter Skins etc the second time around. We haven’t had time to talk about SHARP or skinhead comedians or even our very own scarifying FrankenSkin. We haven’t mentioned fighting either. Now we don’t want to be seen as getting off on aggro, but no-one can deny that rucks were part of the culture, and some of them were pretty damn memorable. The main things we have missed though are probably CLASS – skinhead was always working class; and PATRIOTISM – whatever their politics, the vast majority of skins loved their country (which, idiots please note, isn’t the same as hating other people’s countries). Skinhead politics were more problematic, stretching as they did from the Trotskyite Redskins to Blood & Honour neo-Nazis. The extreme politics that polluted the scene in the late 70s & 80s onwards are the worst aspect of skinhead heritage. But in fairness, most skins wanted sod-all to do with it – then and now. Skinheads may be politically incorrect but on the whole they don’t dig dictators. “Fuck fascism before it fucks you,” was a great slogan, but talk to kids who grew up in the Eastern bloc and they’d be sure to add “Fuck communism” too. The last great thing about the cult is it’s strictly global. Everywhere you go, you will find folk with a love of skinhead culture, regardless of nationality or colour; brothers and sisters, united by class, beer and the shared love of the moonstomp.
Feb 26. The phone rings and it’s a reverse charges call from the Sandy Lane resort in sunny Barbados. “How many more days are you going to run this bally skinhead guff?” a plummy aristocratic voice demands to know. All week, we reply timidly. “By Victoria’s hairy quim!” shouts Lord Waistrel, for it is he. Then SLAM! The phone goes dead... Several minutes later it rings again and this time it is Sebastian de Toth, Waistrel’s latest lawyer. “His lordship is concerned that all this skinhead stuff is diverting the blog from more important matters,” says de Toth. Like what, we ask? “Like the wretched Sandie West’s attempts to take over the band by stealth, for starters,” he replies. “And vital Prankster business, curry nights, the quest for the PM’s scarf (and the Cell of Tel) and the urgent need to carry out Brexit with no delay and no surrender.” Sebby pauses for breath and then says: “It is Lord Waistrel’s command that you get a ruddy move on. If you must persist with the skinhead thing, run three items a day rather than one, including pictures of attractive ‘skin birds’ and make sure you find room for real news.” As ever Waistrel’s wish is our command...
This is the realest news we could find: fans of Wattsie Watts last night blasted Kim Wilde for “trying to steal Wattsie’s shtick”. This followed a press interview wherein the 80s pop star claimed to have “experienced something extra-terrestrial” a few years ago. She now believes “he’s going to beam me up”. Kim, 57, is quoted as saying she saw: “A couple of massive lights just above the clouds, going backwards and forwards in an extraordinary way” (Almost like a helicopter – Cynical Ed). She went on to say she has never been “quite the same” since. Kim, whose new album by complete coincidence is called Here Comes The Alien, went on: “I believe they’re here already or visiting, watching us. I haven’t gone loopy, I just can’t stop thinking about it.” Of course you can’t. A furious Fat Col denounced Kim, the daughter of fifties rocker Marty Wilde, for “trying to park her tanks” on “Wattsie’s ideological lawn.” He added: “Everyone knows that Wattsie Watts has cornered the market in alien-related mumbo jumbo, Corbynism, and other conspiracy cobblers. I don’t believe it myself for a very good reason. I have lost count of the number of times that I have stood in the woods waiting to be sucked up by something warm and alien but it hasn’t happened yet.” Hmm. Maybe try washing it, Col. As to Wattsie’s shtick, we intend to look into the matter thoroughly and report back.
And here are more Reasons to love Skinhead culture. No 8: The women. Our pictures speak for themselves.
No 9. Slade. The most successful skinhead rock band of all time were Wolverhampton combo Slade. And yes we know the image was a gimmick which they rapidly shed, but the brilliance of their songs have kept the lads popular with skins, ex-skins and boot-boys to this very day. Up until the 1969, Noddy and co had looked vaguely Mod, but under manager Chas Chandler’s direction they adopted a full-on skinhead look. It was a publicity stunt plain and simple, suggested by PR man Keith Altham – the same guy who had previously advised Jimi Hendrix to “spontaneously” burn his Fender Strat on stage. After changing their name from Ambrose Slade to plain Slade, their first single ‘Wild Winds Are Blowing’ flopped but the band did pick up a whiff of notoriety. Slade’s bovver-boy look meant clubs cancelled on them and the music press started to snipe, but the national press were writing about them and they began to net TV interviews. They were skinheads who didn’t play reggae. It was unheard of. Jimmy Lea told Gal: “We used to get skins sending us messages, ‘Play reggae or else’. Noddy learnt stage craft in about three dates! Imagine playing a Frank Zappa number to kids into Desmond Dekker and getting away with it!” They even did a cover of Nights In White Satin. “We used to do a lot of harmonies in those days,” Jimmy added. “We played the Marquee with Yes! We played this hippy place called The Temple. As soon as we started playing, all preconceptions were forgotten.” Slade got Top Of The Pops for their follow-up single, a cover of ‘Shape Of Things To Come’, but neither that or their third single, their own ‘Know Who You Are’ charted. It wasn’t until 1971’s ‘Get Down And Get With It’ — a beefed-up version of a 1965 Bobby Marchan R&B tune — that they landed their first Top 20 hit. “When we started playing that live we realised it was wiping the stage with all the others,” Jimmy recalled. “We thought, there’s something in this rock ’n’ roll…” That peaked at 16, but their equally foot-stomping self-penned follow-up ‘Coz I Luv You’, written by Noddy and Jim, hit the jackpot, making Number 1 in the UK and Ireland. “It was a piece of cake,” Noddy said. “We wrote in half an hour…And we didn’t want to bring it out! We thought it was too sloppy!” The hits kept coming: ‘Look Wot You Dun’, ‘Take Me Bak 'Ome’, ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’, ‘Gudbuy T’Jane’, ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’, Skweeze Me Please Me’, ‘My Friend Stan’, ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, ‘Everyday’, ‘The Bangin’ Man’, ‘Far Far Away’. 1974’s ‘How Does It Feel’ was the first that didn’t go Top Ten, peaking at 15. It was an incredible run, and they did equally well in the album chart. 1972’s brilliant Slade Alive reached Number 2, Slayed? And Sladest both shot to the top. They dropped the skinhead look pretty quickly though. “We had to change,” explained Noddy. “Because we couldn’t get enough gigs and no real TV apart from the odd gimmick slot; but we didn’t really drop the image we just took it a stage further to be more acceptable. I was still wearing braces – we were just more colourful.” They also grew their hair at the back, like a skin girl’s feather cut. Between 1971 and 1974 Slade notched up 12 consecutive UK Top Ten entries (six of them Number 1 hits) and three chart-topping albums, making them the most commercially successful British act of their time. They were more than a band, they were an institution. Slade’s big-hearted terrace anthems made them the kings of hooligan rock, and the biggest act in British Pop’s second golden age.
10. Films and plays. Skins have inspired a number of movies and plays, unfortunately most of them have stuck to the Daily Mail’s rancid vision of what skinheads were. This Is England was one of the better ones. Written and directed by Shane Meadows, the 2006 feature film concerned a group of young skins in run-down Grimsby. It’s set in 1983, well into the decline of the cult. The film gets a few things wrong, but it’s heart is in the right place. Alan Clarke’s Made In Britain, a 1982 TV play, centred around racist teen Trevor (played by Tim Roth) and inspired an angry response from Oi poet Terry McCann which (from memory) began: ‘Made In Britain was a load of shit/Call him a skin? I call him a tit/He didn’t even wear the right clothes/A middle class puppet/A second hand pose’. That said, Roth was a real talent. More authentic but less exciting was 1969’s Bronco Bullfrog, which follows East End skin and small-time thief Del, 17 and his mates Roy, Chris and Geoff. Del and Roy team up with Jo, known as Bronco Bullfrog, who is fresh out of Borstal, and carry out a bigger robbery. The rest of the film concerns Del’s relationship with Irene. It’s not a patch on 1971’s A Clockwork Orange – which encouraged some original skins to go droog – or 1979’s Scum.
Trevor Griffith’s play Oi For England was screened on ITV in April 1982 and began a theatre tour the following month. It’s set in Manchester during the 1981 Moss Side riots and centres on a skin band called White Ammunition. Trev’s play doesn’t adopt the Mail’s brainless all-skins-are-Nazis bollo and instead shows the differences between the kids and the political toss-pot who tries to recruit them. When Hollywood got their hands on skins, their efforts ranging from 1989’s truly awful So Proudly We Hail to the better American History X from 1998 about a young Nazi skin who sees through the bullshit. Whereas English playwrights have tried to uncover the real truth about skins, most foreign films have helped perpetuate the public image of the skinhead as a far-right thug. 1992’s Romper Stomper about Aussie skins was better made than most of this dodgy genre, but is still utterly suspect. Its TV series spin-off hits UK screens this year, just to cement that dodgy impression firmly in the minds of a gullible public.
RECORD Noos: DeeCracks’ Sonic Delusions LP is out now on Pirates Press... The Last Gang have followed up their ‘Sing For Your Supper’ single with their Fat Wreck Chords full-length Keep Them Counting... NOFX’s four-track EP ‘Hepatitis Bathtub’ is now available on vinyl again... and Voodoo Glow Skulls’ 20-year-old Band Geek Mafia LP has been re-issued on vinyl by Epitaph.
Feb 25. Hey you, don’t read that, read this! On day six of our series in praise of skinhead culture we get to 2-Tone, a movement built on the bones of 60s skinhead reggae with a look that was much closer to original skins than the bald punks of the 1980s. Rude boy style was sharp and smart. Rudies wore Levi Sta-Prest strides, or 2-Tone mohair ones. Braces, button-down shirts, black loafers, white or red socks. Harrington jackets, pork pie hats or Trilbies... They looked the business. The 2-Tone story is told at length in Gal’s book Dance Craze: Rude Boys On The Road from which this entry is adapted. Among its many attributes, 2-Tone was responsible for putting character(s) back into the charts, real larger than life lunatics like Buster Bloodvessel, a moonstomping Michelin Man shaped skinhead with boots, braces and a belly that quivered like a Quatermass mutation and who pumped out a massive 13-inch conger eel of a tongue – an awesome organ that Soho’s saddo mack-flashers could only dream of possessing. Neville Staple, the Jamaican-born chancer with the roguish smile and boxer’s physique, who rocketed around every stage in the land raucously roaring: ‘HUSH NOW RUDE BOOIIZZZE!’ Chas Smash, a crazed Cockney kid in shades and a pork pie hat who danced like he was all elbows, while fronting a human train of his Madness cohorts and hollering hoarse commands like “HEY YOU! Don’t watch that, watch this!” as if you’d want to watch anything else.
Pauline Black, a hyper-active, heart-meltingly gorgeous Essex-bred Rude girl, bouncing around the stage like an animated space hopper, running on pure adrenaline, and blessed with “the best voice that ever graced” the whole Ska explosion. And in Pop Dream imagery, out there fronting the lot was Jerry Dammers of the Specials, the 2-Tone ringmaster theatrically tipping his topper to Joe Public, unleashing a big toothless grin, and hammering at his Wurlitzer with the same insane nonchalance as Terry Jones on Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
2-Tone’s appeal was plain to see. It was unselfconsciously pop. It was overwhelmingly teenage. And the music was great. Live the Specials were animation itself, mixing energetic originals with such essential evergreens as Skinhead Moonstomp, Long Shot Kick De Bucket and Guns Of Navarone. 60s skins had danced to black music, but 2-Tone took Jamaican Ska and pop reggae and merged it with things that were quintessentially English to make something new and valid and exciting. Madness tapped into Cockney culture and brought in the sound and feel of seaside funfairs. Bad Manners were more like Arsenal fans on a stag weekend. While the Specials were punk in feel and bite, and Ska in the beat. They made punk attitudes danceable, the intensified the Ska... Going to an early Specials gig was like walking into a world where all the other colours had been banned, like Pathe News had broken out all over. Black and white were the only colours fit to wear during the winter of ’79. And the message was simple. On the surface it might have appeared to have all been purely physical – a case of, as the Madness slogan had it, ‘Fuck Art, Let’s Dance’ – but the intrinsic message ran deeper. 2-Tone stood for youth unity; black and white rudies and skins living it up together as equals without any middle class social worker patronising. In the Midlands especially, 2-Tone was a vibrantly human, street-level realisation of Rock Against Racism’s wildest wet dreams. That’s why neo-Nazis hated it. (Although ironically one of the worst violence incidents in this scene was Red Action’s brutal and misguided attack on innocent Madness fans at what was then Hatfield Polytechnic).
2-Tone seemed to happen overnight, although of course it didn’t. It was just that most of the build-up had gone on off-camera. The Specials debuted in the summer of 1978, supporting the Clash, but were held back by their manager, ex second-hand car dealer Bernie Rhodes (who was also the Clash’s manager). Rhodes reckoned the band weren’t ready to record or gig, and locked them away for almost half a year. He stuck them in the Clash’s rehearsal studios in Chalk Farm where they worked out four times a week in accordance with his master plan: to wait until punk was waning and ‘people were looking for something new’. This incarceration frustrated the band who reacted by tearing the phones out and generally smashing up the place. Their original drummer Silverton Hutchinson quit and was replaced by John ‘Brad’ Bradbury (instantly rechristened Prince Rimshot). After a disastrous Paris gig, the Specials sussed that Rhodes wasn’t as smart as he thought he was and got shot of him. They scraped enough dough together to record Gangsters on their own label under the nom-de-studio of the Special AKA. The song took and shook Prince Buster’s Al Capone, giving it a rock backbone and lyrics that were re-written to lambaste the departed manager. Jerry hit on the 2-Tone label name and Horace Painter dreamt up the smartly suited Rude Boy logo man, known to his fans as Walt or Walter Jabsco. The only hitch was that they didn’t have the cash to record a b-side. So they stuck a two year old tape by Neol Davies called ‘The Selecter’ on the flip side instead – it was a neat instrumental recorded in a garage. And that in turn gave Dammers the idea of making 2-Tone into a label in the mould of Motown and Stax with other acts, a sound and an identity. And what a roster! Madness, the Selecter, The Beat, the Bodysnatchers... (Bad Manners signed to Magnet instead).
Other contemporary bands had fused punk and reggae rhythms – notably the Ruts and the Members, but Jerry Dammers had the bigger vision. And what set Jerry’s dream of a punky reggae party apart was the sheer scale of it. As well as songs, 2-Tone had fashion, identity and a strong intrinsic morality. Arriving without the benefit of industry hype and totally bereft of pretensions, 2-Tone broke big in 1979, over-taking the New Mod bands to quickly become the next street music to capture the commanding heights of the pop charts. For a year at least. Incubating largely on the Mod circuit, within months the 2-Tone bands were vying with the then ebbing tide of disco as the mass dance music of the nation’s youth. It even revived the career of the late, great and much missed Judge Dread. (R.I.P. Alex). 2-Tone rose up like a rocket, and for many of the bands it seemed to fall away equally quickly. But the fuse they lit ignited scenes on every continent. The Specials and the Selecter in particular inspired the third wave Ska and Ska-punk bands like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake, The Pietasters, and Tim Armstrong’s Operation Ivy many of which are still going strong. That’s the problem with this kind of music you see. Once you get hooked you end up Ska’ed for life...
Feb 24. In praise of Skinhead Culture part 5: The Poetry. ‘Dead End Yobs got football, boxing or rock ‘n’ roll/If they’re any good at, to save them from the dole... ’ Garry Johnson’s opening lines of Dead End Yobs capture the spirit of streetpunk poetry perfectly. Here’s some background on the scene adapted from a piece that our Gal wrote for Stand Up & Spit about the Oi poets a few years ago: After Oi The Album came out, Garry Johnson sent me a copy of his DIY poetry collection The Boys Of The Empire. I thought it was brilliant, crackling with attitude and smart lines: ‘Born in a city of tower blocks/Alcatraz without the rocks’… To be honest he had me with Dead End Yobs: ‘But even if you make it, certain people will say/ “You’re still no good and you’ll be no other way/Cos you don’t talk proper, yer accent ain’t true blue/You was born in an ’ouse in ’Ackney with an outside loo.’ I had put Barney Rubble on the first Oi! album – ‘I like beans, I like sauce, I like sexual intercourse’. But that was just throw-away; just a laugh. Garry was serious, and his kind of street-poetry echoed what the bands were doing. It was a different way of saying the same thing. He felt exactly the same about it – ‘Oi is the voice of the dispossessed’, he wrote ‘a battering ram for the oppressed.’
So I met him down the Old Kent Road in early ’81 and absolutely loved the bloke. He was a real character; a proper speed-freak, as down to earth as a manhole cover, and sharp enough to realise that class not race was the real divide. His words were a window into a teenage world of unemployment, violence and little blue pills; of dead end yobs in stolen wheels. Garry had been into skinhead reggae and glam rock before punk; Bowie was his real hero, but he identified with the new bands totally. For him Oi was “about real life, the concrete jungle, the Old Bill, being on the dole, fighting back, having pride in your class and background.” He was a bit nervous about performing live – I had to physically push him on stage once at the Deuragon Arms in Hackney – but the words were always spot on. He was also funny, and bitterly anti-establishment. His work went from The Ballad Of The Young Offenders to Suburban Rebels (famously put to music by the Business) and threw in digs at Hitler, Churchill and the Royals along the way. If the system was stacked against us, so what? “Sod the system,” he said. “Gotta rise above it.”
Some people did moan about having poems on a blue collar punk album, but most of the feedback was positive. The other year I met a ex-skin doorman down in Bournemouth who was almost moved to tears by the memory of Gal’s contributions to those records; and I still get bands all over the world asking to get in touch with him because they want to put his poetry to music. Including Garry on those albums inspired a lot of other street poets to come forward – Oi The Comrade, Pierre the Poet, Attila The Stockbroker got involved for the fourth Oi album, Terry McCann, Little Dave, Jimmy Mack, Phil Sexton, Mick Turpin, Swift Nick, Dave the Boil. Not all of them were good, but I put them on to encourage others.
I loved Seething Wells too, despite his dress sense, and included him in a spread on ranting poets in Sounds, along with Garry Johnson and Little Brother in January ’83. Swells – real name Steven Wells – was angriest of them all. According to his apprentice Tim ‘Teething’ Wells, his poetry ‘never used a razor when a sledgehammer would do’. Swells’s poem Police Dog ended with the lines: ‘The constable snarls/The dog looks puzzled/I’m quite fond of puppy dogs/It’s pigs that should be muzzled’. As well as being an angry funny ranting scruffy genius, Steven (known to some reprobates as Spotty Swells) also represented a left-wing skinhead tradition that was generally over-looked by the mass media. He had an ANL tattoo and was a member of the SWP, as I had been in the 70s, back when the party had a sense of humour and weren’t so keen on rapists. Tim by the way is one of the best poets around, as well as being a mean Ska DJ.
So why did I encourage the Oi poets? Because I thought it was worth it; because a great poem can have more impact than a thousand words of rhetoric and because I thought the best of these angry backstreet poets were part of a working class poetry tradition that dates back to the Chartists and which sadly we seem to have forgotten. PS. The only problem with Garry was he wanted to be a singer – and he sang worse than I do. I encouraged him to give up his band (the Buzz Kids) and concentrate on the poetry, which he did, but this didn’t stop him recording ‘If Looks Could Kill’ for one of the later Oi! albums (that he compiled). It’s a memory that pains the lugholes even to this day.
Noos: Booze & Glory’s album The Reggae Sessions Vol 1 is out on vinyl from Pirates Press on 2nd March. Just before they finished their latest album Chapter IV, Mark, Liam and the Londonians recorded this reggae LP with Polish Ska band Vespa. It includes skanky versions of ‘London Skinhead Crew’, ‘Only Fools Get Caught’ and ‘Leave The Kids Alone’... Randale Records have released Noi!se’s debut album The Scars We Hide on LP and CD so you don’t have to order it from California... Randale have also just released ‘American Beat’ a new single from Lemmy’s rockabilly band Headcat – recorded and released in mono as the great man wanted.
Feb 23. Day four of our big Skinheads series concerns Oi. Oi was never just skinhead music. Oi defined itself as working class punk and its audience as “punks, skins and herberts”. The idea that it was just for skins came from the Daily Mail (who were also responsible for the big ‘all skins are Nazis’ lie). We were planning to run a big piece on Oi today, but then we remembered Gal published a definitive article on the birth of the scene on his own website more than a decade ago : So instead here are five reasons why Oi was utterly brilliant:
1) The Oi compilation albums. Well the first five at least, they trailed off a bit after Son Of Oi. For our money the third comp, Carry On Oi was the best, but then we were on that one. Compiled with backs against the wall, in the face of the 1981 backlash and its attendant maelstrom of media lies, this LP brought Blitz, the Business, the Partisans and Red Alert to the attention of the world’s grateful hooligan youth.
2) The anthems: ‘England Belongs To Me’, ‘Police Car’, ‘Razors In The Night’, ‘I’m An Upstart’, ‘Suburban Rebels’, ‘King Of The Jungle’, ‘Stark Raving Normal’, ‘Jobs Not Jails’, ‘ACAB’, ‘Joe Hawkins’... these songs have endured for more than three decades as a permanent reminder of the brilliance of the early Oi bands. And there are scores more just as good. Many classic albums too.
3) The diversity – Oi never had a uniform sound. There’s a world of difference between The Strike and Splodge, Oxymoron and Section 5, and The Crack and The Violators.
4) Hoxton Tom, Stinky Turner, Mensi, Max, Mick Geggus, Micky Fitz (R.I.P.), Steve Whale, Vince Riordan, Garry Johnson, Terence Hayes, PM, Lee Wilson (the round-dodger), Millwall Roi, Franky Boy, Tony van Frater (R.I.P.), Roddy Moreno, Deptford John, Peter Test-Tube – Oi threw up more colourful characters than Shakespeare.
5) The next generation. The BBC’s Story Of Skinhead would have the world believe that Oi was a short-lived phenomenon that self-destructed after the Southall riot. In fact 38 years after Oi – The Album, it’s still going strong all around the globe with scenes on virtually every continent. Oi touched tens of thousands of working class kids, because its message was universal, and influenced killer bands like Rancid and the Dropkick Murphys. Modern Oi stretches from the Old Firm Casuals to Perkele. It extends from the catchy streetpunk anthems of Booze & Glory to the hard-hitting wallop of B-Squadron via Lion’s Law, Stomper, The Templars, Bishops Green, Grade 2, Gimp Fist, Marching Orders, the Generators, Argy Bargy, Jenny Woo, NOi!se, Street Dogs, RUST, the Harrington Saints and many more. And we ain’t even mentioned The Toydolls, Evil Conduct, Patriot, Prole, The Press, the Burial, the Warriors, Crux, The Ejected, Discipline, Resistance 77, the Lower Class Brats or Tommy Schitt & The Punishment Fuckers. A definitive list of bands would take all day to type. Dead in 1981? We think not. Oi lit a blue touch paper that still ignites in the hearts and minds of teenage tearaways to this day. Long may it burn. Next time: The Poets.
*If you’re going to London Rebellion tomorrow, the evening stage times are: THE LAST RESORT, 7.40pm; the COCKNEY REJECTS, 8.50pm; COCK SPARRER, 10.15pm. We’re on at half-time during the England vs Scotland, Six Nations clash; at Arkwright’s Bar, Rainham. Invitation only.
*In other news Wattsie tells us she has taken up yoga to “help me communicate with aliens”. Fat Col was the first to suggest she braced herself for a good long probe.
Feb 22. Reason to love Skinheads # 3. The literature. Quite a few books are associated with skins, not all of them are much cop. Let’s talk about the biggest and then the best. Richard Allen’s 1970 novel Skinhead sold a phenomenal one million plus copies in paperback, and spawned 17 further novels. The back-cover blurb sums it up as ‘a book that portrays with horrifying vividness all the terror and brutality that has become the trademark of these vicious teenage malcontents’. These were words certain to horrify the press and other self-appointed guardians of public morality, but for the nation’s young tearaways they were an enticing advert. Allen’s books were basic pulp fiction, very much of their day. They were published by New English Library and the most surprising thing about them was they were churned out not by someone involved with the scene, but by a Canadian hack whose real name was James Moffat. Moffat penned nearly 300 novels using 45 different pseudonyms, including Etienne Aubin (The Terror of the Seven Crypts) and Trudi Maxwell (Diary of A Female Wrestler). He wrote sci-fi novels under his own name too, but Moffat’s Joe Hawkins youth cult books easily outsold the rest. There were 18 in the series: Skinhead (published June 1970), Suedehead (1971), Demo (1971), Boot Boys (1972), Skinhead Escapes (1972), Skinhead Girls (1972), Glam (1973), Smoothies (1973), Sorts (1973), Teeny Bopper Idol (1973), Top Gear Skin (1973), Trouble for Skinhead (1973), Skinhead Farewell (1974), Dragon Skins (1975), Terrace Terrors (1975), Knuckle Girls (1977), Punk Rock (1977) and Mod Rule (1980).
Moffat’s skinhead books were clumsy and sensationalist and the viewpoints expressed tended to be pretty reactionary – the subject matter was inspired by British tabloid reports of the cult after all. But that said, they were easy to read and the Hawkins character caught on with a generation who identified with his lifestyle. The son of an East End docker, Joe and his gang fought pretty much everyone you can think of, from football rivals to hippies via the Old Bill. Skinhead Girls delivered the equally aggressive Joan Marshall, while Boot Boys served up a terrace firm called The Crackers led by Tom Walsh. Other ex-skins followed their fictional footsteps. Johnny Holland rolled up in Glam, and Steve Penn in Terrace Terrors. Mods, the very last of the series, centred on Joe’s illegitimate son Joe Watson who, aged 13, saw bikers gang-rape his mum, with the expected consequences...
The collected works of Richard Allen were reissued in a six volume set by George Marshall’s excellent ST Publishing in the 1990s, and a BBC documentary about his life, Skinhead Farewell, aired in 1996. (George was the man behind the much-missed Skinhead Times and Pulped). More recently the Joe Hawkins legacy was extended by the Hawkins & Joseph clothing brand, the coolest new logo on the scene for years and very much a labour of sussed skinhead love.
More recent skin-driven novels include John King’s 2008 book Skinheads, based around Ska-loving veteran skin Terry English. It’s about skinhead as a way of life, a story told through three generations. As well as mini-cab boss Terry, there’s Nutty Ray who loves Oi and Chelsea football hooliganism, and Terry’s son Lol, Ray’s nephew, who is a 15-year-old baby skin. Politically this book is the antidote to Joe’s stereotypical views. Socialist Trevor Griffiths’s play Oi! For England was published as a book by Faber & Faber in 1982, but we’ll come back to that when we do Skinheads on Screen. Other great fictional skinhead characters include the Super-Yob cartoon strip – initially a parody of Superman – written by GG & Col and published in Street Sounds; and Skinheed which ran in early issues of Viz comic about a young skin who becomes “an inhuman monster”.
For a US perspective, see Skinhead Army (2007) and Hated & Proud (2009), novels written by Sab Grey of Iron Cross. Other decent books worth checking out are our Gal, Garry Bushell’s definitive youth cult study Hoolies (with chapters on original skins, late 70s/80s skins and Oi), George Marshall’s Spirit Of 69, which took a lot of its source material from Sounds, and Garry Johnson’s The Story Of Oi which includes his eye-witness account of the Southall riots. There will be more about Garry J when we get around to skinhead poetry. As for the others, Nick Knight’s Skinhead book has a terrific guide to the clobber but the article on Oi by sociology professor Dick Head, sorry Dick Hebdige, is utter cobblers. Come back tomorrow for more on the real thing.
Feb 21. Reasons to love Skinheads # 2: The look: Sta-Prest strides, cropped hair, Ben Sherman shirts... the classic skinhead look has endured throughout the decades as the epitome as working class style. Back in the golden years of the late 60s, all skins aspired to possess a decent suit, preferably a mohair, 2-Tone or Prince of Wales check affair, worn with brogues, and later loafers (we’ll do footwear as a separate entry). The all-time favourite skinhead coat was a sheepskin – Crombies didn’t really catch on until suede-head time. Hair was razor-cropped, but heads were never shaved bald. The razors were set to different lengths, one to five, with the number-one crop being the shortest. The favourite shirt was the Ben Sherman with button-down collar and back pleats. Bens were usually checked (never white) and worn with the top button undone and the sleeves turned up once. Brutus check shirts and later the humble Fred Perry were also acceptable. Smarter skins replaced Levi’s red-tag jeans with Sta-Prest trousers. That was the look for going out; for work, football etc the original skins opted for DM boots, braces, any shirt, army or RAF great coats, a Levi’s or Wrangler jacket, or a donkey jacket.
Andrew McClelland, a former skin from Woolwich, southeast London, says: “Everything had a name. When you went out at night you went in your Ben Sherman shirt, your Levis, your Doctor Martens or your Squires. Even when we went down to Margate you could always tell our chaps. We all looked the same, like a uniform, in sheepskins, white jeans and boots.” For Charlton boy Chris Weeks and his mates, getting the right look was essential but hard for working-class kids on low incomes. He says, "I couldn’t afford a proper Ben Sherman, so my first shirt was a Brutus. They looked just as good and 39 shillings and 6d [£1.98] you couldn’t go wrong. I got that shirt Harry Fenton’s in Eltham High Street. After I left school I got a job at Burton’s in Bexleyheath and so finally I could afford my first handmade mohair suit and proper Bens. The manager didn’t mind me crop because he said it reminded him of his days in the RAF. I got my first Crombie overcoat in Burton’s, because I got staff discount. I got my two pairs of Sta-Prest strides in Millets, one white and one a dark green pair. My Levi jeans cost 59 shillings and 6d [£2.98]. They had half-inch turn-ups. Levi’s ruled in London, but in the Midlands Wranglers were more popular. I had half-inch braces, one blue pair and one red pair, at 12 bob [60p] each. My DMs were Burgundy with yellow stitching and had to be polished with Kiwi brown polish. Also in my wardrobe was me Squires jacket, made by Harrington, my black Royals [brogues], my black Gibson lace-up basket weave tops, and my cappers with screw-on thick rubber soles – a lot like the boots I had a few years later in the Guards... To complete the look I had to have a Trilby titfer which I nicked out of Selfridges up London. I was with a girlfriend from Chislehurst and I just walked in, tried it on and walked out wearing it.” The scamp. Older skins with more ready cash pushed the smartness with a mod’s attention to detail. Tonic mohair suits were the ultimate in style. They were worn with handkerchiefs in the top pocket. Suit jackets would be single-breasted with as many as five buttons, large (four-inch) pocket flaps with ticket pockets inside. Tomorrow: skinhead literature.
In a related story, the London International Ska Festival has just announced TROJAN – Trojan Records’ official club night 2nd birthday, with Eddie Piller (of Acid Jazz and round-dodging fame) and Mistah Brown spinning 100% rare and classic Trojan sounds. It’s at the Social in Little Portland St, London W1 on Saturday 17th March. Much like the Yeti, entry is free. (Trojan Records’ official club night hits London's west end on the second Saturday of every month.)
Feb 20. As promised today we start a fortnight of articles in praise of Skinhead culture. Here is Number One in our Reasons To Love The Cult: The original music. Skinhead reggae remains a class apart from most contemporary sounds. Skins evolved from the Hard Mods, or Suits, of the mid-sixties whose musical tasted centred around American soul music and Jamaican Ska. Young skins gleefully embraced the pop-reggae of their era, their massive buying power making international stars of super-talented Jamaican performers like Desmond Dekker and Jimmy Cliff. These golden years produced immortal classics like ‘Liquidator’ by the Harry J All-Stars, Dekker’s ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ and ‘Return Of Django’ by the Upsetters – all massive sellers. Max Romeo’s ‘Wet Dream’ reached the Top Ten in 1968 despite a BBC ban. The po-faced Beeb also censored our old mate Judge Dread (R.I.P), who continued the rude reggae legacy in the early 70s. Other great artists of the time included Prince Buster, Lee Perry, Symarip, Nicky Thomas, Dave and Ansel Collins, Boris Gardener, the Bleechers, Laurel Aitken, Freddie Notes, King Stitt, the Maytals, the Pioneers, Clancy Eccles, Andy Capp, John Holt, U Roy, the Soul Sisters and the Ethiopians (we could go on).
Even phony “skinhead” releases like ‘Johnny Reggae’ by the Piglets stand the test of time, and there wasn’t a skin worthy of the name who didn’t own a copy of Tighten Up Volume 2. Original skinhead music was pure pop reggae, as timeless and guileless as it was simple and joyous. Much of 2-Tone’s success a decade later came directly from adopting these early gems. Tomorrow: the look.
*More trouble is brewing for Lee Wilson, who now appears to have upset the deaf/Deaf community. Slippery round-dodger Lee outraged deaf readers of Vive Le Rock by making remarks seen as “outrageous and discriminatory” by deaf activists. Jon Barker of the anarcho-syndicalist Deaf Liberation lobby is calling for D/deaf protestors to picket the next Infa Riot show and continue to do so until “deafist and disabilist bastard” Wilson makes an unqualified apology. Fat Col tells us: “This protest could really nobble the Infas as they have a lot of deaf fans... well, let’s face it, to listen to that shit you’d have to be.”
*Remember this pic from the back of our Old Boots album? Well Murray – the kid in the corner flicking the V – is now a recording artist in his own right. Check out Ashdown on Spotify. It’s not punk but the boy’s got real talent.
GIG Noos: New Model Army have been confirmed for the Great British Alternative Music Festival along with Bad Manners, Sham 69, The Blockheads, The UK Subs, The Members, and the Rezillos. The fest is at Butlin’s in Skegness between the 5th and 8th October. Knobbly knees supplied by that tedious old ham Bob Geldof who is up there with his shower.
Odd coincidence. Two days after we mention Diabolical Liberty, a writer in today’s Daily Mail discussing sci-fi and fantasy comic novels says of the book: ‘Nothing has made me laugh like Diabolical Liberty, a gloriously funny fantasy romp by English author G. Llewellyn Barker’.
Feb 18. Fat Col calls in a state of high enthusiasm that a layman might mistake for drunkenness. Inspired by the Benny Hill Statue Campaign, Col has come up with a scheme to erect a statue of Micky Geggus on or near the old Bridgehouse site. “It could be Stinky Turner,” he says. “But a statue of Mick flashing a V sign based on the cover of Oi! The Album would be a blinding image and a permanent monument to the enduring power of the Rejects and the glory that was Oi.” A brilliant idea we say. “Yes,” he says, slurring slightly. “All we need to make it happen is a sculptor, council clearance, and the small matter of the money... maybe the Arts Council could help.” Hmm, don’t count on it. So what will you do next, we ask? “Me?” he replies indignantly. “Don’t talk daft! I ain’t doing nothing, mate. I’ve already done the hard part – thinking of the idea. It’s over to the Rejects now.” Oaf. “But when it’s done you’ll thank me,” Col says. “And then we’ll raise a statue of Neville Staple in Coventry.” Here’s hoping.
Wattsie calls. She has been suffering from a trigger finger problem meaning she has had to put up with injections into her ligaments and endless uncouth suggestions from Fat Col regarding what to do with her hands. Now her specialist has told her that the condition is the result of her “Viking genes”. Blimey. That explains all the raping and pillaging she gets up to.
Feb 17. In the continued absence of StreetSounds we’ve decided to allow the magazine’s book reviewer, Rula Mansford (AKA “Bookworm”), to write the occasional piece for us on new books, good books and anything else that floats her boat. And here is her first literary dispatch. Bookworm writes: ‘There are a lot of bloody expensive books about. Growing Up With Punk will set you back an eye-watering £30. It’s massive, bigger than the usual coffee table size, collated by Paul Weller’s sister Nicky and Barry ’77 Sulphate Strip’ Cain among others, and full of various big names talking about their memories of the punk years. There’s Rat Scabies, Hazel O’Connor, Billy Idol, Glen Matlock , Hugh Cornwell, Captain Sensible, Gal Gonad, Clem Burke, Toyah, all three ex-members of The Jam, Gaye Advert, Graham Fellows and even Martin Freeman, who was five when punk started. Pricy yes, but not as expensive as Twilight Of The Mortals, a lavish photo book about Killing Joke. This coffee table sized offering is the work of photographer and former DJ Mont Sherar. It’s a beautiful labour of love and a must-buy for Killing Joke fans. It covers the band from the start. The book comes in soft-back and hardback format (for £40 and £80 respectively) and there is an ultra-deluxe ‘Analogue’ Vinyl package too which has two 7″ singles on coloured vinyl in a gatefold sleeve designed by Steven R. Gilmore himself, with each band member represented by a track – and that’s £140. All together I counted more than 200 photos. It’s an incredible tribute.’
She goes on: ‘But my favourite book from last year was Diabolical Liberty by G. Llewellyn Barker which is the funniest sci-fi comedy romp I’ve ever read. It’s about a teenager office worker who is plunged into a living nightmare. Framed for a murder he didn't commit, Tom Scrimshaw is forced to take on clueless cops, corrupt courts and a spiteful troll who looks like Ozzy Osbourne. While he is hunted by the authorities, his friends race to the rescue. But suffice to say not all of them are on his side... Diabolical Liberty is part crime thriller, and part comic fantasy with more levels than The Shard. It’s young punks against a crazy world! Diabolical Liberty was part-serialised in the early issues of Street Sounds with reviewers mentioning it in the same breath as Neil Gaiman and Pratchett. It’s very fast and very funny.’ More Bookworm soon.
One final Sandie West story works as a footnote to this. Trying to help the Diabolical Liberty’s publisher, Teddie Dahlin, Gal asked Sandie for the contact details for any film producer she knew who was involved in fantasy films. Sandie came up with a name and a copy was duly sent. When our boys got out to LA, they were puzzled to see that Sandie had taken the reviews from the back of Diabolical Liberty and incorporated them into the film script for Get Your Gonads USA. Says Gal: “It made no sense at all. These were segments of book reviews dropped at random into the documentary voice-over for a film about us. It was nuts, and alarm bells rang immediately. But here’s the bigger mystery – how did Sandie get hold of a copy? It’s not on sale in the USA. It won’t be found in any bookstore out there. So it’s 99.9% probable that the book she quoted is the one Teddie sent to the alleged Hollywood producer. Did he even exist?” Hmm. A cynic might suggest that Sandie thought to herself ‘possible movie? I’ll have that!’ but we’ll probably never know. In the crazy world of Sandie West anything is possible. The good news is a genuine big-hitter now wants to pitch Diabolical Liberty to the likes of Netflix and AmPrime.
Random Noos: Bad Religion are dropping hints about a new album. Greg Graffin just tweeted that he and Brett Gurewitz are in the studio. The simple message was: “New songs in the pipeline….” It will be their first release since 2013’s True North... Napalm Death’s Utopia Banished has been re-released on vinyl by Earache Records... and those magnificent Macc Lads are reforming for Rebellion.
Feb 16. Here is demonic director Sandie West with our pal Matt Worley in Los Angeles earlier this week. She appears to be telling him the story of the pimp we met in Las Vegas – “You wanna smell my sissster... ?” Anyhow, West filmed Matt talking about the 1980s Hard As Nails skinhead fanzine for a new edit of her Flowers In The Dustbin punk documentary. He was in town for a punk and Oi fanzine conference. Or so she thought. We certainly can’t confirm the rumour that he was actually there taking witness statements for a class action suit for alleged negligence against the director in respect “of multiple injuries and psychological damage” suffered by the Gonads USA during our November experience...
Random Noos: Rats Nest have launched their Bandcamp where you can download their EP for free... Saxon reissue their first 3 albums - Saxon, Wheels of Steel and Strong Arm Of The Law – on 30th March. They’ll be available on vinyl and CD, and will come with 24page booklets containing lyrics, rare photos and memorabilia... And T.S.O.L. will release a live album in June; Live At The Observatory was recorded during the band’s 5th January show at The Observatory in Santa Ana, CA. It will include all of the tracks from their 1981 self-titled EP and Dance With Me.
Feb 15. The memoir of Control front-man Iain Kilgallon is the subject of a major bidding war between publishers both here and in the USA, according to sources close to the unassuming Scot. As well as his many other activities and achievements, it seems that the singer with the world’s most successful streetpunk combo has also somehow found the time to pen a nail-biting autobiography. Our spy at Penguin Random House has leaked details of the book’s many fascinating revelations. These include the story of how in 1975 the young Iain, who was barely out of primary school, hit on the classic punk rock fashion look and sent his sketches of mohair jumpers, safety-pins and bondage pants to Malcolm McLaren who stole them all and made a packet. In 1980 the still youthful Kilgallon journeyed to California where he taught a young Billie Joe Armstrong how to play the guitar. In 1987, the multi-talented vocalist became resident DJ at London club Shoom where he single-handed created the rave scene. A year later, he scored the winning goal for Wimbledon when the Wombles beat Liverpool in the FA Cup final upset; he was in goal at the time. In 1980, Iain led the liberated people of East Berlin to freedom after initiating the fall of the Wall. Skip forward to 2001 and our bold hero conquered Everest in an afternoon while touring Nepal with Beerzone as part of their hush-hush sixty-date Far East tour. “Every venue was sold out with scores of disappointed punters turned away,” he notes modestly. The following year, Kilgallon won gold for curling in the 2002 Winter Olympics... And on it goes. There is even a chapter where the great man submits to “past life regression” and discovers that he was the first man on Juno Beach during the D Day landings and served alongside Admiral Nelson on HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. “These stories barely even scrape the surface of Kilgallon’s amazing life, there is so much more” says our spy, who goes on: “He was the third man to walk on the moon after Armstrong and Aldrin and it was Iain who really discovered Higgs boson at Cern. The bidding war and the buzz about this memoir make the furore around The Hitler Diaries look tame.” Blimey.
Noos: The East End Badoes launch their exciting new album with a party at the 100 Club. El Tel and his pups will be supported by the wonderful Geoffrey Oi!Cott, Watford’s Knock Off and the Violators (surely not the proper Violators from New Mills? – Knowledgeable Ed). This magnificent convention of talents takes place on Saturday 14th April when sadly we will be busy washing our hair... There are new three generation of Ska shows featuring Stranger Cole, the Neville Staple Band and our favourite rude-girl Christine “Sugary” Staple. The dates are: 5/4 Glasgow; 6/4 Liverpool, 7/4 Sheffield, 8/4 Oxford, 12/4 Leicester, 13/4 Brum, 14/4 Islington O2 Academy, 15/4 Bournemouth, 19/4 Milton Keynes, 20/4 Skamouth... meanwhile the wonderful Susan Cadogan plays the Skagate weekender in Margate this July along with the Heptones and many more. Early bird tickets still available.
Feb 14. Warning! Motorists are advised to steer clear of Plumstead in south east London this morning as the area is likely to be gridlocked by a convoy of Royal Mail vans, FDX couriers, DPD lorries and other delivery men... according to Fat Col. “It happens every year,” the big oaf claims. “Women just can’t help themselves from sending me Valentine’s Day presents. I get everything from crates of beer and boxes of cigars to sides of beef. I believe the PM has the same problem in Essex. We are both god’s gifts to females everywhere.” The self-styled ‘Addicks Adonis’ goes on: “Sadly they are all wasting their time because there is only one woman for me today.” Who, we ask breathlessly? “Shiragirl!” he replies. “She will be the next Mrs. Gannon. When she comes over here to do stand-up I will be her warm-up man... although not on stage, know what I mean?” Unfortunately yes. Despite pledging his undying love to the sassy New Yorker, this has not prevented the blubbery beer-hound from sending his traditional Valentine’s messages to various English roses. These include: ‘Oh Wattsie I really fancy you/Like every other mister/How about we get together for a threesome with your sister?’, ‘Roses are red, Sandie/Violets are blue/I’m using my hand but thinking of you’. And ‘Beki, our love is like something out of a Western/I’m hoping a blow job ain’t out of the question.’ What a sexist pig, eh girls. No prizes for guessing which one of them replied: ‘Roses are red/Violets are twisted/Bend over Gannon, you’re gonna get fisted!’
In actual noos: the new Stomper 98 album Althergebracht (German for traditional) is released by Contra on 30th March... Filf (the ex-Macc Lads) play the New Cross Inn on 31st May, supported by Monkish... the UK Subs and Crazyhead have been added to the line up for this year’s Bearded Theory fest line-up, which also includes the Ruts DC, the Bar Stool Preachers, Donkey Dom and Pizzatramp.
Feb 13. Gal’s new Rancid Sounds show goes out tonight featuring Templeton Pek, Lion’s Law, Buster Shuffle, The Beat, NOi!se, Lunar Bay, Arthur Kay & The Clarks, Addictive Philosophy, The Barefoot Bandits, Old Firm Casuals, us, the Cockney Rejects, The Crows, Nine Dart Finish, The Slackers, Lover and Nick Welsh – 11pm on 2nd City Radio. And listen out for his studio assistant, the mysterious “staff nurse Susie”.
Feb 12. Stiff Little Fingers have just announced an extra date at the Dublin Academy on the 24th August supported by the Defects. That’s the day before their big Putting The Fast In Belfast 2 show on the 25th. The Belfast line-up consists of SLF, the Damned and the Buzzcocks plus The Defects and Terri Hooley... in other punk noos, Birmingham’s Templeton Pek release their new album Watching the World Come Undone on 23rd of this month through Drakkar Records.
But what of Control, you ask as one? What are the world’s most popular street-punk band up to? The ever modest Iain Kilgallon tells us that he is currently writing the band’s new album in between his busy schedule of gigging in Europe, running a hot tubs hire firm and a venue in Scotland, canoeing, sorting bookings for local hotels, and masterminding cruise weekends while no doubt working against the clock to end famine in the Yeman, cure dementia and take human teleportation to the next level. Somehow the great man has also found time to launch “two new side project bands”. More details when we have them.
Feb 11. Here is the news in headlines: Jubilation in Poplar as Terry Hayes reunites the East End Badoes after a negotiated settlement... our pals the Lower Class Brats to play the big Punks Against Trump weekender in June, headlined by TSOL, in Pomona, CA; they’re using the slogan “Making Punk Great Again!”... meanwhile Trump’s alleged porn star lover Stormy Daniels is currently on her own “Make America Horny Again” nightclub tour... Mott the Hoople will headline Kent’s Ramblin’ Man fest this summer... the Crows debut album is now mixed and mastered... early bird tickets for the Madness House of Fun weekender on sale now, from here.
In other news, Jethro Tull star Ian Anderson has told today’s Daily Star Sunday about the time he thought he’d been shot by a deranged fan. He said: “We were on stage in the USA and I felt a thud against my chest. I looked down and saw blood. My first thought was that I had been shot and I wasn’t feeling any pain because the adrenalin had kicked in.” The veteran prog-rocker went on: “I was wearing an open neck shirt and as I carried on singing I tried to feel for the wound. Instead, to my surprise, I found a string. I’d not been hit by a bullet but by a freshly used tampon!” (Tsk, and to think we only get licked!). The incident happened, as such outrages generally do, at an arena in the New York area at the height of the band’s 70s fame. Singer Ian also told the paper he’d had a pint of urine tipped over his head as he waited to perform at the Big Apple’s Shea Stadium. “I had to go on stage stinking of another man’s pee,” he said. “Another time a fan thrust a rose into my eye cutting my cornea, which left me temporarily blinded. But nothing comes close to being hit by a used feminine hygiene product.” Anderson, 70, caught fan’s imaginations with his on-stage persona – a mad-eyed minstrel in a cod-piece standing on one leg and playing the flute. The great man once told us that he plays naked under his cod-piece but has had to replace it several times over the years after it went mysteriously missing – “much like the Gonads’ famous stage cock”.
Talking of the stage cock, we had to turn down the extremely dodgy dildo that Sandie West procured for the US live shows because it was too big to fit down Gal’s trousers. Says Clyde: “You could have shattered concrete with that thing. It was so big it had an elbow. The only way Gal could keep it down was to tuck the tip of it into his sock.”
Feb 10. You can listen again to Gal and Clyde’s big interview over on Punk Rock Demonstration – it’s show number 620. Incidentally, Jack’s playlist for the show starts: 1) The Gonads – I Lost My Love To A UK Sub 2) The Gonads – Gob 3) The Gonads – Buy Me A Drink You Bastards 4) The Gonads – Oi Mate 5) The Gonads – Valhallaballoo 6) The Gonads – Pogo Till I Die... and then it goes downhill with the likes of The Penetrators, Ruby, Chelsea, The Unseen, Anti-Flag and Corrupted Youth... Various theories have emerged about what the 9minutes and 56seconds of chat mysteriously missing from the webcast might consist of. These include subversive thoughts on leading politicians, whistle-blowing revelations on the biggest names in punk and Oi, a live and dangerous Splash Mountain style Golden Goblets demonstration, two minutes of fire-eating, an a capella medley of Music Hall hits (including but not confined to A Muvva’s Lament and Two Lovely Black Eyes), the shocking truth about the Gonad they call The Golden Shot, even more shocking true tales from the 1980 2-Tone tours, five minutes of Long Good Friday quotes, the jokes of Bernard Manning, the failings of Roland Duchatelet, a debate about Wattsie’s conspiracy theories and whether they inspired The X Files or vice versa, pies or eels – you decide, and an uncensored and frankly unnecessary Derek & Clive style discourse on the scene’s hottest women and the order they should theoretically be “seen to”. This is just idle speculation, folks. It’s possible the interview’s real censored moments were much worse.
Four-fifths of brilliant Brazillian street-punk band Blind Pigs are back as Armada, and their dynamite debut album Bandeira Negra is now out on vinyl courtesy Pirates Press. Blind Pigs, once dubbed Brazil’s answer to Rancid, called it a day after a pivotal band member died back in 2016, but now the surviving four have returned. The lads sing in Portuguese but say “Language barriers are nonexistent, music speaks for itself! Oi!”
STOP PRESS: Gal has re-launched the Benny Hill Statue Campaign. He writes on his blog: We need to raise just £60,000 to erect a larger-than-life bronze Benny in Southampton. So it only takes 6,000 of Benny’s fans worldwide to donate £10 a-piece and we’ll make the statue a reality. And this time there is no artificial Kickstarter time-limit. The statue campaign is now linked to an HSBC bank account and you can donate via PayPal button. We will keep going until we hit the target. No-one involved will receive a fee except for the sculptor Graham Ibbeson. And no money will be wasted on admin or event organisers’ expenses. We will stage fund-raising events, big and small, later this year to help raise the cash. If we top the target, all extra funds will be donated to charity. In an increasingly po-faced and puritanical world, there has never been a better to time to honour this humble comedy genius who brought laughter to millions. You can donate any amount to the campaign here, or via the button on Gal’s website.
Feb 9. There have been super exciting developments on the GBX front with two UK labels and several foreign ones expressing high interest in the debut album. Consequently Gal and Clyde will be back in the studio in the next few weeks to record demos of numbers like ‘Fat Man Ska’ (working title), ‘Federales’ and ‘Full English’. (‘Shona & The Alien’ has already been demoed). A tight-lipped Fit Bird refused to reveal which labels the lads are talking to other than to say that they’re “not the normal rubbish.”
Feb 8. Bands are being sounded out for a “definitive” global streetpunk compilation to “draw a line in the sand about what Oi! is and where it is going”. The compilers want “visionary” acts, they say. One tells us “We seek to underline the true meaning of Oi which was and will always be working class rebel rock.” She goes on: “The mass media constantly tries to reduce the working class to chavs and louts. But we know that the real threat posed to the status quo by original Oi was the fact that it gave a voice to brighter kids like Micky Fitz, Mensi and Garry Johnson who saw a bigger role for us proles than just being factory fodder and jail-birds. It’s time to make some history again.” The working title for the comp is Oi! A Class Apart. “Racist bands and other reactionary dinosaurs need not apply”, she adds sternly.
Unreliable rumours: Club Ska will be coming back to the 100 Club shortly... a new Bowie-themed Garry Johnson novel is “weeks away”... Frankie Flame to record new album with a sitar fusion band under the name of Frankie Goes To Bollywood... Blimey.
Here's a tasty teaser of Booze & Glory’s new project, Reggae Sessions Vol. 1. Release status? Soon come.
Feb 7. Eddie Oakes from veteran US Oi! band Patriot has unexpectedly quit the North Carolina group after nearly three decades. Last night tattooist Eddie posted this statement on Facebook: “I am saddened to announce that I have stepped down as the vocalist for Patriot after 28 years. I have a number of reasons for doing so and have not come to this decision lightly. I do wish the other members all the best with no hard feelings for whatever they decide to do as a band.” First Terry Hayes, now Big Ed... this is starting to be a bit of a trend. Anyone seen Gal lately?
Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators has been arrested for domestic assault. According to today’s New York Daily News, Manitoba has been charged with crimes related to allegedly choking his ex-girlfriend Zoe Hansen, 51, the mother of his teenage son. Manitoba, 64, faces three counts of third-degree assault and one count each of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation and second-degree harassment. He is due back in court on 26th March in state court, Manhattan.
In record noos, the Circle Jerks are releasing a re-mastered version of their fourth album, Wonderful, on vinyl. It’s out on 2nd March via Porterhouse Records.
Feb 6. Gal recorded his new Rancid Sounds show tonight. Big thanks to “staff nurse Susie” who stepped in as a last minute replacement for matron who has gone down with shingles (we’re not making this up). The show will go out from 11pm on Valentine’s Day over on the rapidly expanding 2nd City Radio. More details to follow. The next Sounds of Glory show – due on air on 21st Feb – will be a 70s rock retro special...
Gal and Clyde’s interview with Jack was webcast on LA’s Punk Rock Demonstration in the early hours of this morning, but conspiracy theorists have alerted us to the fact that a section of their dialogue was missing. Precisely 9minutes and 56 seconds were cut from the show after a legal intervention (we’re still not making this up). But why? It’s the biggest mystery since Roswell. We cannot currently even hint at the censored content but if at all possible the full transcript will be made available to Club 77 members in the Easter bulletin.
Feb 5. It has come to our attention that the PM’s big East End Badoes announcement has been withdrawn from Facebook (although naturally it is still available to read on this blog). This, we surmise, means that there has been a backdoor attempt to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the crisis which will keep El Tel at the helm of the Badoes, place Cherry on a much-needed diet, and put the band on course for festivals like Stockholm’s PSK in May. We’ll let you know If the negotiations are successful. If not, we’re guessing that Ben Mitchell will have to go back to EastEnders...
Gig reminders: the Rumjacks play the Underworld on Thursday. Discharge at the New Cross Inn on Saturday. The Damned are at the Kentish Town O2 Forum on the 17th.
A minor cash-flow problem means Nads Ads may be reinstated on the blog for a few weeks. To place your advert, and pay for it, please contact Fat Col in the Swan. Please note: bitcoins are not accepted but he is partial to those giant milk chocolate halfpennies.
Random Noos: Japan’s Shonen Knife release a live album called Alive! in Osaka on 4th May via Good Charamel Records... Melted release new album Thin Skin on 16th March... reggae legend Susan Cadogan is set to release a new studio album in April.
Feb 4. Hallelujah! Lord Waistrel has finally relented and given us the go-ahead for a gig. Just the one... Our first and possibly only English show this year will be at the Holroyd Arms in Guildford, Surrey on Friday 28th September, supported by No Lip. Wannabe flag girls please form an orderly queue. Walk-on darts women and F1 grid girls welcome.
Feb 3. Advance warning: Gal and Clyde’s big backstage interview with Jack of Punk Rock Demonstration will be broadcast on Monday (the 5th) at 7pm Pacific time, here. We’re told that the lengthy grilling has been brought forward a week because of the “shocking revelations” and “incendiary views expressed” but when we asked Gal for clarification he claimed he was so utterly pickled at the time he can’t remember anything that he said, and “may have been possessed by the spirit of Sid Vicious... or worse Fat Col.” Sadly Clyde was not contactable as he is in the Arctic region of Canada recording with an Inuit throat singing duo from Nunavat. Here are the drunken fools with Shiragirl and Jay The Tripod backstage in Alex’s Bar, Longbeach, where it all happened.
Unsurprising movie update: James Franco is not, repeat not, now going to star in the punk rock movie Get Your Gonads USA, as Sandie West (dictatorial director and spa siren) tells us he is “laying low because of recent sexual harassment claims”. Damn and we’d have bet the house on that signing coming good... .
Red-hot rumours from disreputable sources: Gal and Shira are discussing a joint stand-up show in Camden this August... Terry Hayes is said to be working on a solo EP... Clyde is only recording with the Nunavat duo because of a terrible mix-up. Seems Gal told him that he wanted the brand new song he’s written on the GBX album. “Make sure we get ‘None Of That’ on the album,” he said, and the line was bad...
Record Noos: Pirates Press have re-issued the first NOi!se album The Scars We Hide on vinyl. The 2014 debut has 12 songs: Rank And File, Glass Half Empty, The Truth, So I Drift Away, Silenced Voices, Statistic, Pawn In The Game, Plastic Friends, How We Made It Through, Bottom Of The Barrel, Different Road and The Future's Waiting.
Feb 2. STOP PRESS. Terry Hayes has triggered Brexit on the East End Badoes. In a short statement posted on his Facebook page and headlined ‘The East End Badoes: An Announcement’, the great man writes: ‘With deep regret I am forced to announce today that the East End Badoes are breaking up. Our new album is very strong and a wonderful showcase for the band who are all extremely talented musicians. However it is also the last album that I will make with this line-up. There is no personal animosity involved in my decision. It has just become apparent that musical differences mean we must go our separate ways. I wish my former band mates success in their pursuit of fame and commercial success. Terry Hayes.’ The devastating news comes as a complete shock to everyone in the UK Oi scene, not least the band members. One well-placed source tells us: “Terry Hayes is the East End Badoes. He is the only original member. The band lives or dies by his say-so alone.” It is not known what the former Badoes will do next but the PM is believed to be working on new material which our source tells us will be “true to the spirit of Oi, hard-hitting and uncensored, with plenty to say.” Blimey.
Feb 1. It wasn’t just Blitz and Infa Riot who watered down their sound in the 80s in a doomed and misguided attempt to become pop stars. This rare footage shows Animal and the Anti-Nowhere League doing exactly the same thing: The shame, the shame...
Belated R.I.P. to drummer Steve “Grizzly” Nesbitt of Steel Pulse who died on 18th January aged 69. The band posted on Facebook “It is with a heavy heart that we must pass the sad news that today, our brother, our friend, our time keeper for so many years, original founding member of Steel Pulse, Steve “Grizzly” Nisbett has passed away suddenly. As we the Steel Pulse family far and wide have lost someone so close to us, we will still take the stage in a few hours on the Jam Cruise, knowing that the joy that Grizz had bringing the Steel Pulse music and message to our beloved fans around the world, will continue on today, and his spirit, love, and love for you all will ring out across the seas, touching your heart and ours. Bless Grizzly, Rest In Power!” Nesbitt joined Brummie rebels Steel Pulse in 1977 and played drums and percussion on their debut LP Handsworth Revolution, their classic True Democracy from 1982, and Babylon the Bandit which won the Grammy for best reggae album of 1987.