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…

80 comments
  1. Carl
    Carl
    April 23, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Crikey…well I guess it makes a change from Blyth Power gig’s. I did do a double take when I saw this !!..
    Not going to slag them,as from what I have read about the band they were not racist, and in the case of Hoxton Tom , he seems to have taken great pride in kicking British Movement member’s head’s in and there lies the problem.
    Tho not racist, they carry with them a stigma of aggro certainly in a football sense which certainly pulled in a low common denominator audience.

  2. Seal
    Seal
    April 23, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    My main memory of this single is that the back cover photo was taken in York Place in Edinburgh. I’m sure the single still lurks in a box in the attic but I too know next to nothing about the later line ups.

  3. kaplan
    kaplan
    April 24, 2008 at 8:18 am

    they were a good band & they made good records while they lasted.It’s all that matters !

  4. TonyB
    TonyB
    April 24, 2008 at 11:41 am

    If im not mistaken,John Jacobs(4-Skins Drummer) went on to play guitar or bass in Conflict for a bit after the 4-Skins split. Cant remember which now. I liked the track ‘Chaos’.

  5. chris
    chris
    April 24, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Seal? the One & Only Mr McConnell?? Is that you?

    Correct about the photo being taken on York Place, just opposoite my old flat at the top of Broughton St. Must have been after they played their gig at The Venue.

    yes, 4 skins had some great songs (“i don’t wanna die” is an utter classic) but their ‘anti-racism’ was disingenuous to say the least. see second verse of ‘One Law For Them’-

    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

    or google for the ‘colourful careers’ of their manager, Gary Hitchcock,
    or second guitarist, Paul Swain.

  6. Nic
    Nic
    April 24, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Very patriotic of you, Penguin…
    🙂
    However, I’d have thought you’d have had a downer on the 4 Skins as Hoxton Tom was supposed to be a Spurs boy, but hung around with the ICF down at West Ham…
    😉

    I’m not sure about the racist connotations (if anything, I would say that the band probably did have an incliunation in a far right direction, but that’s just a personal feeling), but I always had a problem relating to the macho ‘hooligan’ aspect which pervades most of the Oi (and UK82) culture…All that macho mob mentality gang culture didn’t really sit well with me at all…
    Most of the 4 Skins had a reputation as football hooligans which might explain why most of them had been roadies for the Cockney Rejects (who were always enamoured by the opportunity to have a ruck)…
    (Hoxton Tom had also been a roadie for Menace – ‘Screwed Up’ is still a favourite for me)

    Hoxton Tom was known as a bit of a dresser in his day: a face in the Skinhead and Mod revivals on the late 1970’s, he was one of the first vanguard of 1980’s casuals…

    I do – however – have something of a soft spot for the excesses of Bonehead music, if only for the sheer testosterone-fuelled mindlessness of it all…
    ‘Evil’ is an early 4 Skins highpoint for me, and ‘Chaos’ which features one of my all-time favourite Bonehead lyrics:
    “Come back of the skinhead, come back of the boot:
    The People that we don’t beat up – We’re gonna fucking shoot”…
    (nearly on a par with some of the Last Resort lyrics)…

  7. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    April 24, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I aim to please Nic…

  8. Martin C
    Martin C
    April 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    I don’t think they were racist – they just didn’t like blacks or Asians. “Evil” was great fun, but the mindlessness hit hilarious, unprecedented levels when the legendary Millwall Roi Pearce took over vocal duties for the “Fistful of 4-Skins” LP

  9. chris
    chris
    April 24, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    incidentally, i once helped out a mate at his taxi/minibus company and noticed that one of the cabbies on the books was a ‘Gary Hodges’ so wondered if it was the same.

    anyway, good to see they have at least improved the sartorial dimension of this site, after all the blyth power photos 😉

  10. Nuzz
    Nuzz
    April 24, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Always expect the unexpected, yes indeed, nice one penguin. I’m with nic, sometimes bit of mindlessness is good for the brain. Shock Troops by Cock Sparrer is, yes fuck it I’ll use the word a ‘classic’ album, a desert island disc of mine for those mindless moments when yer feeling pissed off and angry.

  11. chris
    chris
    April 25, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Bizarre! I played “Running Riot” as my ‘getting up’ song first thing this morning! great stuff.

  12. mark
    mark
    April 26, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    they’ve reformed with hodges on vox and played in germany – also 2 perform at rebellion in blackpool – they sound damn good 2 and that hodges growl is still alive an kickin

  13. Keer Ray Z. Fokker
    Keer Ray Z. Fokker
    May 30, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    “Honest, guv, we ain’t racist…..”

    Says Ex British Movement Leader Guard and cronies.

    Let’s put this one to bed right now. The ICF, and pretty much everybody associated with it, was affiliated to the extremist right from the late 70s to the mid 80s. I remember even Cass taking a beating outside the South Bank and pretty much being persona non grata for a few years.

    I personally don’t have a problem with that btw. Free speech encompasses idiots after all or it simply isn’t free. But the historical revisionism that has engulfed Mr Bushell and his self-serving Oi! movement over the past few years is bordering on psychotically hypocritical. But then what do you expect from an ageing mob of (ex) fascist bully boys? Self-delusion seems an occupational pastime of these dinosaurs. Thank fuck they never got the funding for that awful movie project;when you airbrush the unsavoury aspects out you would have just have a few pissheads engaging in homoerotic street gymnastics. I’d rather stick to Derek Jarman, thank you very much.

    The music was shit too. Did the Lyceum extravaganzas. Boring.

  14. RiotRiot
    RiotRiot
    June 15, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    The ICF all right wing??? nah, agree a lot of ‘German’ Movement idiots over there in 78-80…. read Cass and Bill Gs books, also Cockney Rejects tells of the rows they (and the 4 Skins) had with the right wing

    As for One Law for Them, didnt it hit the top 50 and was No.1 in the NMEs Indie chart?

    As for members leaving the band, didnt Hodges leave because of his ego, he didnt need the band and then disapeared….Steve Pear was asked to leave! The 4 Skins always were upfront and clear about there views on both the extreme right and left and stated, from the off, their views on racism etc.

    I went to Oi gigs in London in 80-81 and there was no sieg heils or hardcore right wing there, they despised Oi and Bushell in particular…and would have got a kicking from the bands and most of the audience… at that time most of the right wing were going to see Ian Stuart and Skrewdriver as they began to set up their own White Power scene

  15. Havant
    Havant
    July 10, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Found this on here
    http://www.garry-bushell.co.uk/oi/index.asp

    The Oi! bands converged to publicly thrash out their stance at the Oi debate held at Sounds in January 1981. Everyone agreed on the need for raw r’n’r, and the sense of benefit gigs, but there was a heated difference of opinion on politics. Stinky Turner was violently against politics and politicians. Mensi argued that Labour still represented working class interests and claimed that “the Tories still represent the biggest threat to our kind of people”. It was the same divide that had always separated the Rejects and the Upstarts. They managed to be agree about reclaiming Britain’s Union flag for the people and, erh, that was it.

  16. andus
    andus
    April 26, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    I think someone must have put some acid in my coffee, I’ll check back later, I’m sure it won’t be here then.

  17. johnn
    johnn
    April 27, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    do people still take lsd? not seen or heard of it for years, or maybe i just live a sheltered life.

  18. andus
    andus
    April 27, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    No. I’ve not seen or heard of it for years either, it was replaced by that garbage ecstasy.

  19. chris
    chris
    April 28, 2009 at 10:55 am

    why on earth would E be ‘garbage’?

    just a bit of fun, surely?

  20. andus
    andus
    April 28, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    I will tell you why its garbage.

    1.You can’t drink beer on it, as I found out to my cost when I drank 15 pints whilst on it, and ended up with a treble migraine, and red hot flushes followed by freezing cold flushes, A drug that you can’t drink on is fuck all use to me, anyway I drank 6 treble vodkas thinking that I could drink the E off, no chance of that, I collapsed and died, and have been dead ever since, And do you know what its like to be dead, Do you know whats its like, Do you know, Fucking boring thats what its like.

  21. andus
    andus
    April 28, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Oh and 2. it gives you the horn but makes you too Eed to fuck. So it prevents you from drinking and fucking, I’m surprised Bush didn’t use it in camp x ray.

  22. andus
    andus
    April 28, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I went to work on acid once, my task was to smash this wall down with a sledghammer, loved it. I thought the housebricks were made of leggo, That wall came down damn fast.

  23. alistairliv
    alistairliv
    April 28, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Andus said ….“Do you know what it’s like to be dead..” Sounds like a line from a Beatles song …

    She said “I know what it’s like to be dead.
    I know what it is to be sad”
    And she’s making me feel like I’ve never been born.

    “She said, she said” on their Revolver album – based on an incident in Beverly Hills in 1965 when the Beatles were all tripping and the actor Peter Fonda turned up and started going on about a . nearly fatal self-inflicted childhood gunshot accident.

    “Fonda said that he knew what it was like to be dead. Lennon snapped, “Listen mate, shut up about that stuff,” and “You’re making me feel like I’ve never been born.” Lennon explained, “We didn’t want to hear about that! We were on an acid trip, and the sun was shining ..and this guy – who I really didn’t know, he hadn’t made Easy Rider or anything – kept coming over, wearing shades, saying ‘I know what it’s like to be dead,’”

    But today’s big story is from the Evening Standard http://londonersdiary.standard.co.uk/ – they have found a video from 1988 of some folk at an acid house rave and one looks a teeny bit like David Cameron (leader of the Tory party).

    At 14/15 seconds in to vid.

  24. andus
    andus
    April 28, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    I rest my case, Ecstasy will turn you into a David Cameroon. Funny you should mention Revolver, my favorite Beatles album, and she said she said, my 2nd or 3rd favorite Beatles track. I had no idea what inspired it though. I was actually thinking of Peter Cook. and his ‘I was burnt alive’ sketch.

  25. chris
    chris
    April 30, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Weird. I’ve always drunk whenever i’ve taken E and no problem. Never any any problems doing the dirty deed either.

    Maybe it just doesn’t agree with you? Just as Skunk has an absolutely horrendous effect on me and I feel ill if I even smell the vile stuff.

    NB: They’ve already identified the guy who looked a teensy weensy bit like Cameron to be a chap called Matthew who was part of the Respect Rave crew. Quite mind-boggling how anyone could ever have thought it might be Cameron IMO.

  26. andus
    andus
    April 30, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    You could be right Chris, someone else told me exactly the same thing, although I have heard that its not advisable to drink on it, at least not a lot anyway.

    The Cameron chap did look like a lookalike to me as well, but did you notice Gordon Brown in the crowd, fucked out of his face.

    I can explain the skunk I think, some people have allergic reactions to it.

  27. johnn
    johnn
    May 1, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Skunk does smell well renk innit…

  28. johnn
    johnn
    May 1, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    …but not as renk as the 4 Skins!

  29. Shakey
    Shakey
    January 31, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Was the person who said “They weren’t Racsists they just didn’t like Blacks or Asians” having a laugh or a fucking idiot!

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