Crophead record roundup #4

Klasse Kriminale: Construito in Italia 7’ EP (Skinhead Sounds)

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Skinhead Sounds is run by Italian skinhead historian Flavio (who we interviewed here) and has just reissued two classic 7-inches. Constriuto in Italia is the 30th-anniversary release of the debut EP by Klasse Kriminale, who in the latter half of the 80s were one of very few Italian Oi bands left.

Those were innocent days when Italian Oi bands could play patriotic tunes like the title track (which translates as ‘Made in Italy’, of course) without necessarily signalling anything more sinister than attachment to their friends, stone-baked pizza, and Ennio Morricone (the ‘Cow Punk Symphony’ outro quotes one the maestro’s better-known works). Today, I am reliably informed, even a nod to the tricolore automatically places you in one camp rather than the other.

Yet Antonella’s happy-go-lucky chirp rings clear enough even to those who, like me, don’t understand the words: here’s a bunch of kids who simply enjoy living in their country of birth without using patriotism as a proxy for bitterness against immigrants and lefties. Innocent days indeed: due to the proliferation of bald bigots, the band would eventually shed both their flag-waving and ‘apolitical’ tag. Antonella, meanwhile (nicknamed ‘The Bird’ on this release) left Klasse Kriminale and became a bit of a ‘dodgy bird’…

The other two tracks are both carried by lead vocalist Marco Balestrino, who has continued to fly the Klasse Kriminale banner to this day. Because Oi was born under the star of Hoxton Tom, it is bass-driven music – something often forgotten by today’s ‘Oi’ bands cranking up their metal guitars, but fully understood by the producer of this single, who let the instrument feature prominently. By the time the chorus kicks in, you know that ‘Oi! Fatti Una Risata’ (Oi! Having a laugh) is a classic tune: a major-key terrace anthem that will have you singing along even if you can’t. ‘Accendi un’altra sigaretta’ (light another cigarette) is Madness-via-4 Skins neo-ska and perhaps the least captivating song on this EP.

The limited online edition comes with a mini-poster of the original sleeve, which shows the band line-up in 1988. I like the young Antonella just as others like early Skrewdriver, albeit for different reasons, and I won’t blame you if you hang it over your bed.
Crombieboy

Asociale: Novum Comum 7’ (Skinhead Sounds)

R-11417612-1516026015-7441.jpegI remember Asociale from a 90s compilation called Oi! Siamo Ancora Qui, which featured more established bands such as Ghetto 84 and Klasse Kriminale alongside a newer wave of Italian Oi groups like Teenage Mutant, Face the Facts and, ahem, Bulldog Skin. Asociale’s Upstarts-like number, ‘La gente reale non muore mai’ (real people will never die), was a far livelier offering than the opening track on this seven-inch single, originally released in 1992.

To today’s ears, everything about ‘Niente politica’ sounds so familiar as to breed contempt: “no politics, only Oi”, shouts the vocalist over a punk backdrop so clunky and sluggish it makes you think politics may actually be a better idea than Oi. Granted, the song hails from a different time and situation. As Flavio explained in our interview, “when the far right presence in the skinhead scene became significant, the ‘no politics’ slogan, for many, was a way to underline that they had nothing to do with that degeneration”. And even though nowadays I mostly associate the slogan with middle-aged men droning on about the PC brigade, I do get the basic point: nothing’s gained by turning every gig into Altamont or Sham at the Rainbow.

Anyway, on the flipside Asociale show what they can do when they step it up a notch and enjoy themselves: ‘Hoxton Tom for President’ is every bit as cheery as the aforementioned compilation track, showing the band at the height of their, however limited, powers.

You may have noticed I like the Klasse Kriminale EP better, but both reissues represent important stages in the history of the Italian skinhead scene: Klasse Kriminale being a voice in the wilderness, so to speak – the years of boneheadism, heroin, and little else – while Asociale heralded the dawn of an Oi revival that stood under a more auspicious sign. Asociale leader Ivano Bergamo was an important figure in the Italian scene. For a certain period, him and a few others practically ran the show on their own. What’s more, he was quite the dresser. For these reasons alone, both platters are essential stuff.
Crombieboy

On the Ropes: Demo 2017


Great shit coming out of the Montreal scene. Former members of Hard Pressed, Last Crusade and Wednesday Night Heroes – so as you can guess, it’s a big Templars influence plus the 77 Chiswick sound with snotty, angry vocals. I detected a few Blitz/Criminal Damage hints in ‘Where We Belong’. Strong guitars, vintage walking basslines, chantalong choruses, and all songs under two-and-a-half minutes. What else do you want? 9 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Savage Beat: Trench Warfare EP


Dutch band this. There are hints of blitzish Oi but a heavy rock ‘n’ roll influence too. Think Syndrome 81 meets Knockout or the best On the Job stuff. They’re at their best on fiercer material like the title track or ‘Through With You’, but the more melodic songs are decent melodic stompers too. Good stuff all in all. 8 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Ibrahim et les dompteurs de tigre: Demo 2017


I absolutely loved this. Mental as fuck French Canadian Oi with hints of hardcore. Like The Ejected mixed with Chaos UK and Minor Threat. Lyrics in French, so I’m not entirely sure what they’re on about, but it seems like they have a sense of humour. There’s an instrumental opener, two stompers, and a Tulaviok cover. Great Stuff. 9 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Fuerza Bruta: Somos el mal 7’

Following from a great album last year, Chicago Spanish language Oi band storm back with another awesome seven-inch. Pretty much following last year’s formula, they mix 80s Oi like Combat 84 and Attak with some tough hardcore, adding metal of the Black Sabbath and Maiden variety (you can hear it in their guitar riffs). Right up my street. I love that powerful sound, especially when mixed with huge chantalong choruses. One of the best this roundup. 9.5 our of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Petite: Demo II


Great stuff again from the anti -fascist melodic Oi band from Portland. They mix old No Future Oi with 80s pop punk like Action Pact or Annie Anxiety. So refreshing in a scene full of Booze & Glory and Razorblade clones. Lyrically, they clobber the fash, coppers and assorted social injustices. Great tunes, sussed band. 9 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

SS/Block: Demo


Fast and furious hardcore punk from Malaysia. Verging on crust – a genre that is mainly wasted on my ears. However, these guys have strong songs underpinning their one minute 20 second blasts. Reminded me of Poison Idea jamming with Chaos UK, maybe with some of Hard Times’ more hardcore stuff thrown in. Again, one of the best this roundup. In fact, not far off my favourite. 10 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Faceless Offenders: We Don’t Pose EP


Great Stuff from these guys. The press release says they are scene veterans looking to boot the current crop up the proverbial Harris. And they do! Great songs that marry Niblick Henbane and the best Wretched Ones moments with a tougher UK sound not unlike Crashed Out’s second album or Zero Tolerance (anyone remember them? I do their bass player, but enough of my teenage crushes!!. Joint release with fellow contra band Masterless Dogs. 10 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Off the Clock:  Demo


Some more Great Canadian Oi seasoned with hardcore here. Pretty much in the vein of Wretched Ones, Boot Party, or newer bands like the Hired Goons. Short, punchy, basic tunes straight to the point. It’s nothing spectacular, and a heap of bands do this kinda stuff, but it’s done better than most and with heart. 8 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Masterless Dogs: s/t EP

Brilliant stuff this in the vein of Syndrome 81, Rixe or Prisoners by Choice. I’m a sucker for this sound. Has almost-choruses belted out like machine gun fire and those choppy guitars that are as reminiscent of early 80s gothic as they are of Blitz. Blew me away on first listen and hasn’t diminished since. If not for the No Heart LP and Faceless Offenders EP, this one would be the best of today’s batch. 9 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

PTSD: If You See Something Say Something demo


As regular readers may observe, I occasionally venture beyond punk, Oi and HC to genres that may be of interest to more open-minded croptop listeners. This is like a glorious mashup of Second Empire Justice (yes, I’m one of those who even prefer it to Voice of a Generation!), Killing Joke circa Nighttime, 00s indie darlings White Lies, and even The Cure. Some (most?) of you will hate it, but if you’re bored of bovver rock bands whose vocabulary only consists of boots, booze and birds, this could be for you. 8.5 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

No Heart: s/t LP


Great debut album from these Canadians. At this rate, the Canuck soon will soon be outdoing the French for producing my favourite groups. They’ve come a long way from their earlier recordings. The songs are all incredibly strong, and the guitar sound is amazing. Nothing massively ‘new’, but there’s a beautiful almost melancholy feel to them that makes me think a little of Thin Lizzy. Very much in a melodic North American Oi tradition, there are hints of Templars, Niblick Henbane and Bruisers here. 10 out of 10.
Abdul Bleach Boy

Litige: Fuite en avant LP


Blinding punk rock from Lyon. All female group playing anarcho-punk that reminds me of The Dicks, Political Asylum, Barcelona band The Sect, and sometimes even a darker Ejected. Their 2015 demo was outstanding, and this is a great follow up. Dark and ‘gothic’ in a good sense, but there is still something life-affirming about it. I’ll take this over Evil Conduct or Booze & Glory any day. Evokes memories of when punk and Oi had heart, meaning, and a diversity of sound. 9.5 out of 10
Abdul Bleach Boy

 

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2 thoughts on “Crophead record roundup #4

  1. On ‘Voice of a Generation’: I did play the album a lot when I was 17-18, but in hindsight it does have a bit of filler and doesn’t sound as brutal as the earlier singles/EPs. So maybe a slight letdown when it came out originally? The EPs and singles were flawless – much better in my opinion. I’ll have to listen to ‘Second Empire Justice’ again.

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  2. I remember being disappointed with Voice of a Generation back then, very ‘album’ sounding (aren’t there ‘album versions’ on it?). Not as disappointed as with the next one, the wine bar one…

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