Title - 'The Albums' [4CD Clamshell Boxset]
Artist - The 4-Skins
For those not in the know, The 4-Skins are an English working class Oi! band from the East End of London, England.
Originally composed of Gary Hodges (vocals), 'Hoxton' Tom McCourt (guitar), Steve 'H' Hamer (bass) and Gary Hitchcock (drums), they formed in 1979 and disbanded in 1984 – although new line-ups formed in 2007 and 2008.
Many of their songs dealt with violent topics, but the band has claimed they were discussing the realities of inner city life, not promoting violence. Indeed, other 4-Skins song topics include police harassment, political corruption, war and unemployment.
Cherry Red Records (UK) will be releasing this August 31st, 2018 an impressive 76-track, 4CD clamshell box-set rounding up all that Oi! legends The 4-Skins recorded between 1980 and 1984.
The first CD, entitled The Original 4-Skins features all the tracks recorded by the band's original vocalist Gary Hodges, including the 'One Law For Them' single which hit #4 on the Independent Chart.
It also features their contributions to the seminal Oi! The Album, Strength Thru Oi! and Carry On Oi! compilations.
1. 'Wonderful World'
3. 'Clockwork Skinhead'
6. 'I Don't Wanna Die'
7. 'Yesterdays Heroes'
10. 'Clockwork Skinhead' (Oi! the Album Out-Take)
11. 'One Law for Them'
12. 'Brave New World'
13. 'Evil' (Carry on Oi! Version)
14. 'Wonderful World' (Radio Version)
15. 'Jealousy' (Radio Version)
16. 'One Law for Them' (Radio Version)
17. 'Evil' (Radio Version)
18. 'Yesterday's Heroes' (Radio Version)
19. 'The Greatest 4 Skins Rip Off (Live)'
20. 'Things Ain't Gonna Change (Live)'
21. 'Watcha Gonna Do About It? (Live)'
22. 'Summer Holiday (Live)'
Prior to the release of the band's debut single, 'One Law For Them,' as aforementioned, The 4-Skins contributed songs to the first three Oi! compilation albums. Featuring alongside massive bands of their time, such as Cockney Rejects, Cock Sparrer, The Business and Angelic Upstarts, The 4-Skins' contributions have also now stood the test of time.
For me, the stand out track on this album is obviously 'Plastic Gangsters,' a 2-tone ska song that reminds me of The Clash's Give 'Em Enough Rope era combined with early Madness.
The second CD is the band’s debut LP, The Good The Bad & The 4-Skins, which topped the Indie Chart in April 1982. This features all the songs recorded with vocalist Panther including the Indie Top 10 single ‘Yesterdays Heroes’.
1. 'Plastic Gangsters'
3. 'Yesterday's Heroes'
5. 'Jack the Lad'
6. 'Remembrance Day'
8. 'Wonderful World'
12. 'I Don't Wanna Die'
15. 'One Law for Them'
16. 'Dambusters' (as JJ Allstars)
17. 'Yesterdays Heroes' (Single Version)>br>
18. 'Justice' (Single Version
19. 'Get Out of My Life'
20. 'Low Life'
21. 'Bread or Blood'
23. 'Seems to Me'
24. 'Merry Xmas Everybody'
Their highly impressive debut, released in June 1982 on Secret Records, the album topped the UK independent and punk charts, and entered the Top 100 of the UK Albums Chart.
Side A of the original LP contained studio recordings with Side B featuring live versions of several previously released songs. The album was later combined with their follow-up release, A Fistful Of ... 4-Skins (omitting the track 'One Law for Them' due to space limitations!) and released on a single CD by Link Records in 1987 as A Few 4-Skins More, Vol.1.
Despite being The 4-Skins' debut album, it was in fact recorded by the third stable line-up of the band, with bassist Hoxton Tom McCourt being the sole member of the original 1979 line-up.
However, the group's original drummer (and manager at that point), Gary Hitchcock wrote and performed vocals on the album's 2 Tone-style ska punk lead track.
The third CD is the A Fistful Of ... 4-Skins album which hit No.11 on the Indie Chart and saw the band led by ex-Last Resort vocalist Roi Pearce.
1. '5 More Years (Layabouts Anthem)'
2. 'Waiting for a Friend'
3. 'Johnny Go Home'
4. 'The Gambler'
5. 'I'll Stick to My Guns'
6. 'On File'
7. 'Forgotten Hero'
8. 'The Spy from Alaska'
10. 'No Excuse'
12. 'City Boy'
13. 'New War'
14. 'On the Streets'
15. 'Saturday' (Demo)
16. 'Chaos' (Herbert Version) (as Harry & the Herberts)
Released in 1983 by Syndicate Records, in comparison to The 4-Skins' previous material, A Fistful Of ... 4-Skins featured a slower, heavier, more melodic, hard rock-based sound.
Less successful than its predecessor, the album charted outside the Top 30 on the UK independent chart; with the band members themselves claiming that this was due to chart manipulation.
As noted above, the album was later combined with their debut album, The Good, The Bad & The 4-Skins and released on a single CD by Link Records in 1987 as A Few 4-Skins More, Vol.1.
Following the breakup of the line-up that recorded the band's previous album, The Good, The Bad & The 4-Skins, Hoxton Tom McCourt had assembled a new line-up (the fourth overall) including former The Last Resort singer Roi Pearce, and future Skrewdriver guitarist, Paul Swain.
Complete with an attempt at a nostalgic spy movie instrumental ('The Spy From Alaska'), this album, for me, didn't have the ability to keep their rigid musical vibe going for their fans. Indeed, its one bright spot is 'Five More Years', an amusingly lowbrow look at the virtues of not working.
The fourth, and final CD, is the rare live From Chaos To 1984 LP.
1. 'Wonderful World'
3. 'On the Streets'
4. 'Johnny Go Home'
6. 'Bread or Blood'
9. 'City Boy'
10. '5 More Years (Layabouts Anthem)'
12. 'On File'
13. 'Clockwork Skinhead'
Released in 1984 on Syndicate Records, this is the band's third and final album. Recorded in mid-1984 in front of an invited audience of friends at a studio in Waterloo Road, London, the album documents the band's farewell concert and final recordings (well, until 2007's partial reunion, of course!)
In all honesty, Roi`s version of older 4-Skins classics like 'A.C.A.B,' 'Chaos' and 'Wonderful World' does give the 4-Skins' material a new breath of fresh air. Sad to think that it was their last ever album, as was, but they obviously already knew that themselves going into the gig.
The booklet features in-depth liner notes and is packed full of rare clippings and memorabilia plus many unseen photographs from the time.
The 4-Skins @ Facebook!
4CD Box-Set Purchase Link