4 Skins – Clockwork Fun Records – 1981

One Law For Them

Brave New World

Oh dear, what have I done?

Uploading the 4 Skins debut 7″ single on St George’s Day of all days!

I can feel the backlash already writing this piffle, and myself having to explain that I am in fact, not sympathetic to the lowest common denominator in ‘Street Punk’ or as Bushell lovingly called the small movement around the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, ‘Oi!’.

The lowest common denominator meaning extreme right wing politics, and extreme macho stances outside off licence’s and inside gig venues all over towns,  all over the country, with boot soup as standard fare.

This band claimed “not guilty” on the charges above, and there is no doubt of the extremely powerful performances on both sides of this debut single, a single that was released just before the band’s most publicised split. The single was released shortly after the Southall gig with Last Resort and The Business in support. This gig in Southall ended up in the pub venue being burnt down by some members of the local community, and fighting spreading onto the street until a full scale riot took place, making news headlines in all the media outlets at the time, all over the world.

The single although being made ‘Single Of The week’ in Sounds (where else?), sold poorly due to failed distribution. Not many copies got into the shops to be sold into the hand’s of the public. Not many shops took the risk of stocking it.

Gary Hodges the gravel voice vocalist, left the band, which I guess could be considered admirable in the context of what had happened on that night in Southall, never (to my knowledge) to bother with fronting a band again. The guitarist also upped and left the band.

Though the band claimed not guilty to anyone who would listen, in media circles, with regards to the various bigoted views allegedly held by the band, including racism, many members of the band’s audience were (I am in no doubt whatsoever) either, paid up racist party members or extreme hardcore hooli’s for various football firms.

I guess the 4 Skin’s got judged on the company they kept, and continued to keep through various other lesser line up’s of this band through to the mid 1980’s, line ups that I know next to nothing about, and own nothing on vinyl or tape.

Feel free to slag off this post, I reckon a few eyebrow’s will be raised as it is not really KYPP material. It is a great single though, and the fact that two members left the band and distanced themselves somewhat from the Oi! scene during the Southall aftermath, to me speaks volumes of those specific members of this band.

Then again I could be mistaken and will no doubt be corrected if this is the case…

  1. Jolly
    June 21, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    The Edinburgh gig for the 4 Skins was a saturday afternoon under 18 gig at the Nite Club (upstairs at Playhouse). Tom was a top fella back in the day.

  2. Adolph the Piss Artist
    Adolph the Piss Artist
    September 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    the 4 skins, never a far right band, oh no, banish the thought…


    don’t wanna die by a terrorist’s hand
    don’t wanna live in a muslim land
    don’t be scared of the truth off us
    we should kill them before they kill us


  3. RiotRiot
    September 11, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    They’re not the original lyrics – which was about not wanting to die in a third world war and here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EZVv9qy1gQ&feature=related – but are those of Gary Hodges 4 Skins, not the same thing I’d have thought.

  4. Chris Low
    Chris Low
    September 13, 2010 at 6:00 pm


  5. SKanKer
    September 14, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    @Adolf the Piss Artist

    Yeah they have been using those lyrics for a while now… It’s sad that a band that had some good tunes could be so far right wing. But then again, they have always been right wing…

  6. Adolf the Piss Artist
    Adolf the Piss Artist
    September 15, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Skanker : yea, exactly! and about as ‘right wing’ as you can get without being born 80 years ago in Germany. What i’ve always found so weird is the way so many folk always give it the line about how they weren’t really a nazi band when all they ever did was change a few lyrics on their records. And it’s not as if that’s changed over the past 30 years whether it’s Hodges and his new lot or the old bunch of BMers, one of whom went on to play for Skrewdriver, while another became one of the Combat 18 leaders. Though as you say, some absolutely cracking tunes. More’s the pity.

  7. RiotRiot
    September 25, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    and about as ‘right wing’ as you can get without being born 80 years ago in Germany….. I used to like the 1st and 2nd lineups in 80 to 82 and at gigs you got a real cross-section , no fucking seagulling or badges etc at their gigs
    As for BMers, didnt they – Hodges and McCourt – have a run in with the BM at Barking – when the Rejects firm did the BM and they certainly were not on their christmas card list…. at the same time wasnt Ian Stuart with a nazi helmet on his head playing down the 100 Club around the same time with the boneheads?

    Would be interested to know what lyrics were?

    Which member of the band became one of C18s leaders? Rockabilly Steve?

    Saying that, I cant believe Hodges formed his incarnation of the band, no doubt got a few bob

  8. stateside reader
    stateside reader
    October 7, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    just something from the peanut galley across the pond:

    allentown pa and the surrounding area has a pretty high nazi skinhead population, possibly one of the bigger ones in the US.

  9. SKanKer
    October 7, 2010 at 7:42 pm


    Do you remember when the first lineups of the oi fest in Allentown had more trad, sharp, and anarcho punk bands? Then later on they went as far as putting in the Vinlanders and other bullshit far right-wing bands. But I also heard that there is a lot of anti-fa there too.

  10. The Pirate
    The Pirate
    May 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    “Go to football, throw a brick,
    Get no mercy, months in nick
    Riot in the ghetto, red alert,
    Guilty free, innocent hurt

    We’ve been warned of rivers of blood
    See the trickle before the flood
    Pretend nothing happened, make no fuss
    One law for them, One for us”

    Is anyone seriously saying that they are not having a pop at black people in this? The reference to Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech removes all doubt. Racists.

  11. RiotRiot
    July 13, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Theyre not the ‘unreconstructed’ original lyrics… that was film was from, I’d say, June 81 after Southall, the original track and lyrics was recorded in 1980 and the song was written before that – they played at the Bridgehouse and with the Rejects and Damned and played the song.

    Listened to the track on there and it sounds like

    Trouble in the streets
    Trouble in the streets
    Anyway, eitherway *******? around the police
    Skinhead inside
    Skinhead at the gate (?)
    Skinhead taking over
    Nobody Runs

    No idea what it means but cant see that as racist?

    And agree on the BM… but from my recollection the NF and BM didnt have much time for the Rejects or the 4Skins…

  12. 4pedant
    August 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    RiotRiot: Just for the record, it’s:

    “….trouble in the streets, anyone who ain’t white they’re gonna try to beat,

    skinheads with knives, skinheads with guns, skinheads taking over, nobody runs”

  13. RiotRiot
    August 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Cant agree with that, pretty crap lyrics I’ll agree but cant hear ‘anyone who ain’t white they’re gonna try to beat’ at all. If that was what was being sung dont you think they’d be absolutely crucified for it – quite rightly – ?

    Agree with the ‘skinheads with knives, skinheads with guns, skinheads taking over, nobody runs’ bit.

  14. Stratford Paul
    Stratford Paul
    August 17, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    4 skins were an out and out RAC Rock Against Communism / right wing band and all their East London skinhead following were British Movement sympathisers, the facts are everywhere unless you prefer not to see them.

    The Oi! description used in order to sanitise and profit from the skinhead movement was the brainchild of a middle class uni student and Sounds music magazine journalist Gary Bushel, who also has extreme right wing affiliations if you bother to scratch the veneer (just google the net).

    Gary Hitchcock (singer after Hodges) was THE founding member of the terrorist group Combat 18, with the 4 skins skinhead firm making up the bulk of the initial foot soldiers.

    The lyrics to the song One Law For Them are directly taken from Enoch Powells Rivers of Blood speech and was about how the black youth were supposedly treated during and after the riots in London.
    The record label / Mr Bushell refused the initial cover artwork (black youth rioting) as too racially charged and changed the cover to “pretend” the song was about the English System.

    The 4skins regularly played with extreme right wing skinhead bands : London Branch, Peter and the Wolf etc and Hodges has shared a stage with the lead singer of Brutal Attack many times (footage on YouTube)

    Paul Swain played for the 4skins and Skrewdriver at the same time.

    The 4skins/Hodges was due to play the 2017 ISD memorial, the largest skinhead concert in the Uk and organised by Blood and Honour, the skinhead musical movement started by Skrewdriver singer Ian Stuart. In words “he bottled it at the last moment”, but he / they intended and agreed to play, not enough cash may be?

    There are numerous photos of Hodges with leading London Neo nazi skinhead faces on the internet : Ian Stuart of Skrewdriver, Chubby Chris Henderson of the band Combat 84, who also took a firm of West London skinheads to the Tavern that famous night “to fight the pakis” (his words). Ken McClellan of Brutal Attack and Paul Burnley of No Remorse to name a few.

    Where the 4 skins racist / right wing…….only if you do the slightest of digging it seems.

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