Feb 25, 2010

The Boys. The Complete Punk Singles.

Almost completely forgotten these days, The Boys were there at all the right moments in punk history but never managed to catch a break.

From their website: Casino Steel had been in the influential Hollywood Brats who formed in London in 1972 around the songwriting partnership of Steel (keyboards) and Andrew Matheson (vocals). Similar in style and looks to the New York Dolls they were born out of disgust and aimed to shock. They were originally called The Queen until they had an altercation at the Marquee with Freddie Mercury’s Queen who subsequently had a hit single, forcing them to change their name to the Hollywood Brats. They played regular gigs in London including the Café Des Artistes and the Speakeasy building up a small band of followers, which included Keith Moon of The Who. Their debut album “Grown Up Wrong” captured the raw energy and excitement of the band but was initially only released in Scandinavia in 1974 after the Brats had broken up.

Following the demise of the Brats Steel met up with Matt Dangerfield, who had converted the basement of his rented flat in Maida Vale into a recording studio. 47A Warrington Crescent became extremely important in the development of the UK punk scene in the mid seventies. Mick Jones, Tony James, Bryan James, Rat Scabies, Gene October and Billy Idol amongst many others were regular visitors. The Damned, The Clash, Generation X and the Sex Pistols made their first recordings in Dangerfield’s studio.

Out of these jamming sessions legendary UK punk band London SS were formed and boasted a line-up which included Dangerfield, Steel, Mick Jones and Tony James and others. At one session Honest John Plain joined them on drums and another drummer, Geir Waade, came up with the name – with the SS standing for Social Security rather than the German secret police. Dangerfield left the London SS to join up with Steel, Andrew Matheson (vocals) and Wayne Manor (bass), all from the Hollywood Brats along with Geir Waade (drums), an old friend of Steel’s from Norway. Honest John Plain, who had been at art school in Leeds with Dangerfield, later joined the line-up.

From that point on, The Boys mainly distinguished themselves by hitting every red light along the road to success. Although they were the first UK punk band to sign an album deal with a major label (the Sex Pistols having already been sacked by EMI in record time), they were stuck in a five year deal with NEMS, who didn't have the means to promote them in any significant way but wouldn't let them move to a bigger label. NEMS never seemed to be able to get its act together and constantly held up the release of The Boys albums until the moment had passed. Despite being the first band with a contract, several other punk groups had released albums and reaped the ensuing media attention before The Boys first record even appeared. Tours supporting John Cale and the Ramones did little for their lasting success, as NEMS never managed to get their albums or singles out in time to coincide with the gigs meant to support them. Probably right after asking themselves "What else could go wrong?", The Boys' first single to really climb the charts got knocked out by the suddenly dead toilet-jockey, Elvis Presley. NEMS' parent label, RCA, threw all of its energy into supplying Presley records to his mourning public and largely forgot about their pet punks.

In spite of it all, The Boys kept a sense of humor about things—once a year transforming themselves into The Yobs to release tongue-in-cheek Christmas singles. Aside from a delightful cover of The Worm Song (Nobody likes us, everybody hates us, just because we eat worms...), they also perform Silent Night with a level of braying obnoxiousness usually reserved for Monty Python's Gumbies.

England may have ignored them, but they did manage to become quite popular in Germany and Japan. Die Toten Hosen championed them for years and covered Brickfield Nights, and Japanese band Thee Michelle Gun Elephant had a huge hit with a cover of Soda Pressing. Since 1999, the original line-up has occasionally reunited to play gigs around Europe to newly discovered fans.

Complete Punk

The Boys official website

The Boys on myspace

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