The Redskins, Attila the Stockbroker, Seething Wells: Right to Work March, Southwark, London

RIGHT TO Work Marchers, like punks, skins and soccer herberts, are apparently fair game for any Old Bill trying to keep his ‘nick-nick’ quota up before afters start.

Hence the van-load of plodders judiciously guarding the kerb outside the gig all night, and occasionally pulling the odd crop or orange jacket for heinous crimes like ‘breathing’ or ‘thinking’ or things equally subversive. It’s amazing with so much mindless mugging in South London that they can spare the men to give young protesters such close ‘protection’. And doubly annoying when the cause was so worthwhile.

Tonight’s gig was just part of a whole wider campaign, the Right To Work’s ‘Jobs Not YOPs’ march round London. It’s something most people support, to cop a cliche, ‘unconditionally but critically’. Unconditionally because the Youth Opportunities Programme is undoubtedly a big slave labour rip-off and critically because they fear the whole campaign is just a recruiting front for the ultra-left.

They shouldn’t worry. The most prominent political demonstration at the gig was a bunch of pissed punks hoisting up the black flag of Anarchy. And besides, every time the SWP recruit someone a bit near the mark they kick ’em out anyway. Ask the Cockney Reds.

I don’t like the SWP any more than I like the LPYS but the fact remains that together they’ve organised this righteous campaign, which is more than anyone else has done, and in practice the Campaign’s become the tool of young working class kids, skins, punks, headbangers and herberts of various political preferences who’ve made it their own megaphone.

Alexei Sayle had already been on splitting sides by the time we arrived, but that was almost compensated for by the rampant word-wriggling of our old mate ‘Uncle’ Attila, Stockbroker of this parish. Though not on the same excellent form as when he demolished the Stratford Poetry dooberie the other week (probably cos he had nothing to fight against) the first bootboy of verse was still provoking entertainment, with his rib-tickling poetry rubbing coarse shoulders with such outrageous odes as the cruel, yob-handed ‘Willie Whitelaw’s Willie’ and a spirited kicking of Bob Dylan, via that old party favourite “Your raincoat, you prat, is blowing in the wind”, a mighty v-sing to long mac poseurs everywhere.

Sadly his prole partner in rhyme, the sartorially inelegant skinhead sonneteer Seething Wells, fared less well, as his equally inspired (and even, more JCC-reminiscent) verse was drowned out by the baying hordes of disco morons at the back.

Considering as the march was supposed to be a demonstration of youth solidarity against draconian Tory gangsters (etc), this narrow-minded not to mention unthinking yelling for “Abba” and “Donna Summer” was particularly depressing, especially when ditties like ‘Aggro Britain’ are so spot on and relevant. If the Anti-Disco Campaign had been there we might have seen a ruck of earth-shattering proportions. Swells oughta call, Sounds‘ll listen mate.

Thankfully the ferocious Redskins had no such opposition, bashing out fiery salvoes of uncompromising protest with such gusto that any latent heckler was sent packing for the boozer rather than risk their wrath.

Only two things detracted from this, their (contrary to rumour) debut gig. Firstly they ain’t skins (let’s be charitable and say their crops have grown out) and secondly they specialise in a grim late-Jam sound rather than a more populist punk styleeee.

Weller is obviously a seminole influence on the band. Perhaps he oughta sioux. Sorry – I’ll bin the puns. Though they’re not apache on their mentors (sorry), their anger hit home hard from the off with Thatcher, DJs, bosses, Crass, and nazis (“the only skin slogan is skins hate the NF”) all feeling the heavy lash of singer/guitarist the somewhat weedy Chris Moore’s defiant tongue.

The Redskins are a tight, abrasive trio who make a harsh heavy sound that mirrors their harsh heavy politics. I reckon they’d communicate more if they allowed for more melody and less metal because when they do, as with the encore number, a savage pounding mix of Pasti and the Rejects, or the almost bouncy ‘Dream Control’, they make all the connections, not just the verbal ones.

Still, the skins and punks down the front were well-impressed by this mostly promising debut. A little more colour, a little more light and shade as well as the black, and you’d be much more effective, chaps.

And get yer bloody hair cut!

© Garry BushellSounds, 6 March 1982

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