The Partisans 'Police Story' – album review

The Partisans ‘Police Story’ (Cherry Red/Anagram)
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The Partisans re-released ”˜Police Story’ is a reminder of a specific period of time ”“ when punk was sub-dividing, some (arguably) taking the more ”˜punk’ route and experimenting with their sound, others along with The Partisans rejecting the initial art school starting point then confined their sound and fitted into the emerging UK82 street punk scene championed by the likes of Sounds writer Gary Bushell.

For all the debate that continues to rage concerning the impact of punk rock, one thing that cannot be denied was punks ability to inspire others to start their own band, back in 1978 every city, town, village, hamlet seemed to have its own punk band ”“ ability or acute lack of was no hindrance; Bridgend had The Partisans with an original early teenage line-up of Phil Stanton (Vocals), Rob Harrington (Guitar/Vocals), Andy Lealand (Guitar), Mark Harris (Drums), and Mark Parsons (Bass); Parsons and Stanton left in 1979, with Harrington switching to lead vocals, and Lealand’s girlfriend Louise Wright joining on bass.

Like nearly every other provincial band of the time they cited the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Ramones, as their initial inspiration, they began by covering said bands material before progressing to writing their own. One of the other undeniable facts of punks impact was the huge proliferation of independent labels that sprang up ”“ ideal for bands like The Partisans who were rapidly snapped up by the nascent No Future Records who put out the band’s debut ”˜Police Story/Killing Machine’ in September 1981 ”“ its fast and raw, its inept, the lyrics are equal to the music ”“ that said it appealed to plenty of people rising to #5 on the UK Indie Chart; this at a time when to do so marked sales of 20,000!

Bushell further cemented his support featuring the band on Vol 3 of his now legendary compilation series ”˜Carry On Oi!’, which saw The Partisans enter the UK album chart, such exposure secured the band supports with the likes of Peter & The Test Tube Babies and Blitz who unlike the majority of UK82 bands were interested in the development of their sound.

Come May 1982 and No Future released a second single ”˜17 Years of Hell’ also featured here, which peaked at #2 on the UK Indie Charts, similar in sound to their first release though clearly the bands ability to play had improved with touring; listening to it now it does retain a certain naive charm but for myself this style of punk had become hijacked by the likes of Bushell, keen to push their ”˜street sounds’ and supposed working class attitudes…the lyrics touch every cliché of the genre slating the government, the military, the police, class divide etc without ever offering any real alternatives; that said they make their complaint with both conviction and certainly passion.

The Partisans went on to release their eponymous debut album in early 1983, all the tracks, bar a couple of ”˜Carry On Oi!’ versions are included here, this album even retains the original artwork.
Shortly after Louise Wright departed and the remaining members relocated to West London ”“ this release follows the band up to that point. The Partisans went onto release further singles and a follow up album which gained plays on Radio 1 and was described as “The Professionals meets The Clash,” which was certainly a progression from the material within ”˜Police Story’

The band eventually split in 1984; Dave Parsons later found chart success with Transvision Vamp and later still worldwide success with Bush.

As I suggested, this album captures a young (they were just 14 when they began) fledgling band fired up by the biggest revolution in musical history, at the time musicianship, and broadening horizons (thankfully) weren’t always pre-requisites for band membership; so yes, its primitive, its clichéd, it became the soundtrack to “give us 10p, mate” postcard punk, but it still manages to transport you back to your local pub, the youth club for the weekly punk night and for that we should be grateful.

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6 comments on “The Partisans 'Police Story' – album review”

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  1. If you can find it, he Captain Oi DigiPac version of this album is a far better package than this cherry red effort. Not only does it put the album in original running order, it then compiles all No Future singles and “Carry On Oi” compilation tracks at the end to make it the definitive release by this version of the Partisans.
    Also the cherry red does not keep the original artwork as wrongly stated in the review, The original album was never called “police story” it was just self titled. So it had no big police story cut & Paste writing on the cover, and whats more, no crappy “punk collectors series” plastered on the front. Why cherry red do this baffles me, ruins the CDs, and makes them look like budget releases!

  2. The second generation of punk bands, circa ’81/82 are often overlooked in most punk/new wave histories. But the alternative charts were crammed with the likes of Discharge, The Exploited, all the Crass bands.

  3. i’ve always had mixed feelings about so-called UK82 or 2nd/3rd wave punk. I was just a bit too young for 77 so when i really started to be properly involved the exploited,anti-pasti etc were dominating punk.Looking back, i have great memories of being a punk at that time and buying the records and fanzines, reading ‘sounds’ and going to my first gigs.Bands like the Partisans are so evocative of those days, i loved it all at the time as well as the early bands but now 30 odd years later i don’t think the 80’s bands stand up as well as the class of 77. I think that Bushell did a bit of damage to punk inasmuch as he tried to mould it into his own, narrow vision of what is was to be ‘working class’ . Bushell was a great journalist with a real gift for words and a fierce intellect despite his posturing but his whole ‘oi!’ project was in many ways the antithesis of what punk was all about.Punk could only have been started by middle class, art student types like McLaren, when you mixed his gifts with the working class cool of the original Pistols the end result was one of the greatest rock n roll bands we’ll ever see. The whole early punk scene was great because it didn’t matter about stuff like class, race, sex or whatever, anyone could do it. I believe that by the 80’s punk had become very narrow minded and cliched but that isn’t to say that it was no good. i still think there were some terrific bands around like Discharge and the scene was a whole lot better than anything else. At the end of the day its all about rock n roll and having a say and bands like the Partisans certainly made their contribution.

  4. Whole debate here about the value of Oi and UK82 punk. For me, it (punk) had been appropriated by the thick people by this point although I could, and can,see the energy and point of the whole mess. Bushell and The Cockney Rejects were the endgame of this style of music as far as I’m concerned. I vividly remember a Rejects interview in Sounds in which Stinky Turner, when asked about the then burgeoning new romantic scene, “If you came in our boozer looking like that, you’d get your head kicked in.” Just digest that sentence-THAT’S what was wrong with the whole Oi scene.
    Your not like us? Your getting done in.
    It was like the whole ethos of punk arse over tit.
    I can feel an article coming on!

  5. I always thought the Partisans were a fine, really exciting band – of course loads of people had lost interest by then but they were more in the spirit of punk for me i.e. really young people expressing their frustrations in life in a thrilling manner. Of course it is basic, nothing really wrong with that when thats all that can done at that stage. Of course if you haven’t moved on from that in five years time there is a bit of a problem, but that wasn’t the case with the Partisans and listening back their zeal still remains.

    Also their second lp is mighty too! It does move on to a more developed and tuneful sound but is none the worse for it. And its got tunes to die for!

  6. paul lee-spridgeon

    The seeds of any future talent the partisans might develop is evident on the 1st album in the shape of ‘ i never needed you’, if you bought the ‘time was right’ album it contains another far better version. I’m a big fan of all punk from 76 thru to the present day & that track is up there with all the classics. ‘Time was right’ is a classic album in its own right & if you include the ‘blind ambition’ single a & b sides this was a band on the rise who had improved ten fold in a small time as proved by the ‘idiot nation’ album released in the 2000’s. Surely it shouldn’t matter if a band is UK82 or not & if you’ll forgive the cliche ‘its the music that matters’? Going to catch the partisans at rebellion later this week & if you have any sense you’ll do the same. . .

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