Cockney Rejects reissued by EMI – review

Cockney Rejects reissued by EMI
Box set including…
Greatest Hits volume 1
Greatest Hits Volume 2
Greatest Hits Volume 3
singles rarities and sessions

Cockney Rejects

Cockney Rejects

First three classic Cockney Rejects albums reissued along with Peel sessions and live recordings

”˜I like punk, I like Sham ”¦ I got nicked over at West Ham’

The classic couplet that encapsulated the street punk obsession with football and punk rock beautifully sums up the Cockney Rejects but gives little clue to the surprising sophisticated action they managed to squeeze into their terrace anthems- an action being documented in a new film about the band called ‘East End Babylon’ which is due for release next year.

In the late seventies when the initial punk movement was either getting bloated, lost or seeking brilliant new pastures in post punk, Goth or 2 Tone there was still a real thirst for the fierce guitar action that had been its initial staple.

For a while Sham 69 carried the flag and then a whole host of street punk bands emerged redefining punk into an anthemic raw power that when it worked well was easily the equal of it’s 1977 forefathers.

The Cockney Rejects were the archetype street punk band that emerged from the ashes of the punk movement. Their 1980 song “Oi, Oi, Oi” was the inspiration for the name of the Oi! Movement and their anthems sound as powerfully fresh today as when they were recorded.

With no bullshit and being the genuine real deal they are beloved by a whole host of youthful modern punk bands (and Morrissey- who wrote the forward to Stinky Turner’s great autobiography) who sell millions of records but can never quite get the genuine urgency and anger that make these songs stand out after decades.

Anyone can make a punk record but can anyone ever sound as aggrieved as this?

The idea that punk was a working class, street movement of normal kids making their own music may have been a bit of a media myth in 1977 but by 1979 it was a reality and the Rejects perfectly encapsulated this.

Quintessentially British in the best possible ways, the Rejects were the frontrunners of the late seventies OI! Scene. If the Clash had pretty well invented the terrace anthem take on punk rock with their first album the Rejects were the real deal- match lads who were in love with rock n roll and football- an east London answer to the Westway wonders.

The Rejects should have been an eighties version of the Who- a huge international rock band but after street punk/Oi descended into chaos after the Southall riot which the Rejects were never even at they were hampered by the underserved bad press and image of the street punk scene.

Fortunately punk carried on and the band are regarded as legends by a whole host of huge new American punk bands who are busily saving the careers of early eighties Brit punk heroes.

Now a classic band whose powerful energised sets are the highpoint of the punk festival circuit the Rejects should have been one of the classic British rock bands. This series of compilations underlines just what great rock songwriters they were- understanding the switchblade viciousness of classic punk guitar riffs and the terrace anthem community power of the singalong.

Their song ‘Badman’ could also be quoted by the Stones Roses on their ‘By Bye Badman’ on the classic debut Roses album- Ian Brown was a big Rejects fan.

If anything the passing years have added to the Cockney Rejects music. They sound more urgent, powerful and alive than even when they were released. Micky Geggus is one great guitar player with an endless supply of great riffs and imaginative playing that is the equal of the Pistols Steve Jones and his younger brother Stinky Turner has a great rasping punk rock voice that was the genuine sound of the East End in a time of noise and confusion. The production is spot on and band easily stand the test of time with records that have become influential benchmarks in modern punk rock and beyond.

Listen to the Rejects and you are in a world of boxing clubs, smoky pubs, piss stained terraces where you could stand up, good times and community- it should sound like a museum piece but the energy and the genuine passion as well as the great song writing makes these into timeless classic punk albums.

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2 comments on “Cockney Rejects reissued by EMI – review”

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  1. Great rteview of a very underrated band. The music press of the era was desperate to distance itself from Punk while purporting to be finding the new thing in “79 that missed many great bandas or simply dismissed them as working class thugs (no surprises there then, they failed to recognose what was happening with the north West Post Punk bands (and their followers, it took until the release of the Awaydays novel in 98 to drive home that in the North West, there was a cult with no name centered on Music , clothes and Football..far too prole for the middle class domonated media. ).
    Its great to sse some recognition for the rejects and finally laying to rest the ghosts of the cedar club.

  2. While i’d agree with you that there was a north west working class culture with no name , centred on music and football,in the early 80s … one thing they weren’t doing was listening to the sodding cockney rejects , apart from morrissey apparantly.

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