Saturday, February 2, 2008

Who Loves Sham 69 ?

Sham 69 were less commercially succesful than the Sex Pistols or the Damned, but as second wave British punk rockers they were highly influential on the development of the working class, skin-head Oi ! movement where songs resembled calls to arms and football chants rather than carefully crafted commercial rip-offs.

Given this difference from the art schol punks it's pretty amazing that their first single, I Don't Wanna in 1977 was produced by John Cale of the Velvet Underground.

Their best album by far, is pretty unusual for punk, a concept album, That's Life (1978), based on the day in the life of one of the lads, through being sacked, unemployment, getting pissed, coming good, ect. Hurry Up Harry is classic football chant, and Everbody's Right Everybody's Wrong captures the pathos of inner city life in the late 70's (Modern Version ? A Grand Don't Come for Free by The Streets)

Violence was common place at their gigs, causing them to stop playing live in 1978 at Middlesex Poly, when white power skinheads rushed the stage.

Later on they would fade away from punk and sound more like the Who or the Stones ('Adventures of the Hersham Boys'), lead singer Pursey also dabbled in metal, joined remaining Pistols ('Sham Pistols') before the ressurection of the band in 1987.

In 2007 they finally broke up for good after bitter in-fighting.

Image: Courtesy Polydor

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