Trojan Skinhead Reggae

What are we for? nothing really. We're just a group of blokes. We're not for anything.
A Skinhead quoted in You'll Never Be 16 Again: An Illustrated History of the British Teenager by Peter Everett (1986).

For all its aggression , skinhead was a curiously passive phenomenon with no obvious interest in interacting with, let alone changing society. And, in a first for a post- war youth cult, it didn't even produce its own music, preferring to dance to the early versions of reggae that were coming out of Jamaica.
From Crisis? What Crisis? Britain In The 1970's by Alwyn W. Turner (2008)


The Truth About Skinheads- Man Alive (1969)

Half of a Man Alive documentary from 1969 (the other half was about 'them greasers what calls themselves Hells Angels, but they ain't Hells Angels, not proper ones. Not the ones you get over here...')
Brilliant insights into life, habits and manners of 40 years ago.
Credit to MrSkinheadof69.


Richard Allen

A documentary about 'Richard Allen' ( James Moffat, 1922-1993), the pulp author responsible for the New English Library's phenomenally successful Skinhead books of the early 1970's.


One Original Step Beyond

The 2Tone scene revived an interest in Jamaican sounds of the sixties and early seventies amongst young white listeners.
The Specials LP contained covers of songs by Dandy, Prince Buster and The Maytals; Madness began with a tribute to Prince Buster and followed it up with a cover of One Step Beyond.
Consequently Skinhead classics like Longshot and Liquidator reappeared in the UK charts, and acts like Derrick Morgan and Laurel Aitken enjoyed popularity with new audiences.
The original Trojan LPs became much sought after and a steady stream of compilation albums featuring the ska/ rocksteady/ reggae classics loved by the Skinheads of 1969 appeared.
This compilation was much later, 1992. From a personal point of view it was a Friday night favourite through which many of my younger friends learned about the music, whilst the older members of our gang wallowed in nostalgia.
The back cover gives the track listing along with the reasons for inclusion.


Skin Flicks...

Oi For England (1981)

Directed by Tony Smith, written by Trevor Griffiths. Adam Kotz as Finn, leader of an Oi band caught up in race riots in Manchester's Moss Side.
Watch online here.

Made in Britain (1982)
Directed by Alan Clarke and written by David Leland. Tim Roth plays Trevor, a skin on a crash course with authority.
Can be seen on YouTube.

Meantime (1984)
Mike Leigh's look at the impact of unemployment in Thatcher's Britain sees hapless Colin Pollock (Tim Roth) coming under the wing of Skinhead Coxy (Gary Oldman).
Widely available on DVD.

Romper Stomper (1992)
An unlovable group of Melbourne skins led by Hando (Russel Crowe) and his lieutenant Davy (the doomed Daniel Pollock) crumble in the face of progress and internal strife fuelled by sexual jealousy. This mob are racist bullies and cowards. Hando has a Hitler fixation. Geoffrey Wright apparently got the idea when he saw some Skinheads in a pub in Cardiff.
Widely available on DVD.

This is England (2006)
The Skinheads in Shane Meadows' film include a Jamaican, listen to ska, not Oi, and right wing politics divides the group. There is also romantic conflict between the two leading skins ( Combo and Woody, as opposed to Romper Stomper's Hando and Danny. The gang in Romper Stomper had also 'adopted' a young boy, Bubs).
Widely available on DVD.

Россия 88 (2009)
Pavel Bardin's movie, which was banned from cinema and TV release in Russia, follows the eponymous Russian skinhead gang as they prepare a video for the internet. When the gang leader finds out that his sister is dating a man from the Caucasus ( people from the 'non European' former republics are the objects of hate to right wing Russian skins) the shit really hits the fan.
Can be seen on YouTube.


4 Skins- The Good, The Bad and The 4- Skins (1982)

Tony 'Panther' Cummins - vocals
Hoxton Tom McCourt - bass
John Jacobs - guitar, keyboards
Pete Abbot - drums
Gary Hitchcock - vocals on Plastic Gangsters

Tom McCourt became a Skinhead at the age of 16, disillusioned with the commercialisation of punk. He also wanted a more stylish mode of dress. Hoxton Tom, as he was known to his mates in the West Ham ICF (he was Tottenham, so hanging out with Cas Pennant and the ICF seems like exceedingly dodgy behaviour), was a leading light in the Skinhead revival of 1977-1978, the Mod scene of 1978-1979 and the Oi! movement from 1979 to 1984. Unsurprisingly he then embraced the casual look.
Hoxton Tom was one of the founding members of the 4-Skins in 1979. Switching from guitar to bass he was an ever present in their many line up changes.
4 Skins are the archetype of the streetpunk Oi style - fast 3 chorders with rousing terrace chant choruses focusing on social injustice, class war and the good life.
This is a CD reissue of their first LP.

Here's a 4-Skins website.


Skinhead - Nick Knight (1982)

Nick Knight's photographs of Skinheads in the East End of London in 1981. Includes a history of the fashions associated with skins from the sixties onwards and a discography.



We stand for punk as bootboy music. Oi! is working class, and if you’re not working class you’ll get a kick in the bollocks. – Stinky Turner, 1980.

Loud, raw and violent, Oi-Oi is the musical battle cry of the skinheads, and like them it pulls no punches. News Of The World, 1981.

Punk Rock a la 1976 was a middle class movement that had more to do with art colleges and fashion designers than working class youth.
The original guttersnipe sneers of The Sex Pistols in the UK and the dumbed down cartoon personae of the glue sniffin' Ramones in the states were carefully crafted rather than being a spontaneous reaction to their situation. The Pistols might have been ordinary estate kids, but the band was all about McLaren.
And of course, punk appealed to the ordinary kids- with bands who swore on TV and caused spluttering outrage amongst the elders. Anarchy and chaos were quite appealing propositions to the boot-boys of the 70's, and Jimmy Pursey's Sham 69 introduced the populist terrace mentality to punk, engaging Skinheads in the punk scene.
The way in which punk diversified from 1977 onwards is very telling. Many of the original bands either disappeared or came clean about their more 'serious' musical aspirations. We got the earnest 'post punk' of bands like Joy Division and Gang of Four. The DIY punk ethos gave us Scritti Polliti as well as Crass.
On the other hand the myth of punk as the music of the streets, the highrise and the disaffected youth became a reality in the hands of groups who actually were made up of dead end kids with knocked off instruments and three chords.
I've slagged Garry Bushell off before, and I can't take to the bloke- he's a gutter patriot, but he does provide us with a comprehensive if rather apologist (it was the other side wot started it) history of Oi!

By 1983 the chances were that if you saw a young Skinhead he would be listening to fast three chord punk, not reggae or ska, and that the image would be less 'clean' than that favoured by his forebears. The original skins had placed great emphasis on the need for smartness and sharpness, but now came the tattered jeans patched with beer towels, the totally shaved heads.

Chris Killip- Angelic Upstarts at a Miners’ Benefit Dance at the Barbary Coast Club, Sunderland, Wearside, 1984.

I've knocked this compilation together from a variety of sources- if there's one thing Oi wasn't about it was hi- fidelity!

Sham 69- If The Kids Are United, Angels With Dirty Faces, Hurry Up Harry, Borstal Breakout.
The Cockney Rejects- Flares and Slippers, War On The Terraces.
Angelic Upstarts- Teenage Warning, Upstart.
Cock Sparrer - Take 'Em All.
The Adicts- Bad Boy.
Red Alert- In Britain.
Peter & The Test Tube Babies- Banned From The Pubs.
Combat 84- Violence.
Action Pact- London Bouncers.
The Business- Harry May.
Blitz- Someone's Gonna Die, New Age.
The Oppressed- Living With Unemployment, Riot.
The Ejected- I'm Gonna Get A Gun.


The 2 Tone EP (1993) Toni Tye- 2Tone Archive (1980)

Released in 1993 to promote a Best of 2 Tone compilation this EP brought together the début singles from 4 of the label's leading acts:
The Special AKA- Gangsters
Madness- The Prince
The Selecter- On My Radio
The Beat- Tears of a Clown
In the case of Madness and The Beat these were their only releases on the label.

Photographer Toni Tye documented the 2Tone scene in early 1980, when it was having a massive impact on British pop music. Her archives can be viewed here.


The Cult of Trouble (1980)

Ian Walker (1952- 1990) was a journalist who wrote for The Leveller magazine in the 1970's. He later wrote for New Society and the Daily Mirror. His account of life in 1980's Berlin, Zoo Station, is highly regarded.
Walker's New Society article, in which he observed Skinheads at a UB40 gig in London , interviewed Skinhead schoolboys in Somers Town and skins with National Front connections , was illustrated with photographs by Homer Sykes. It appeared in June 1980.

You can read the article here-http://invereskstreet.blogspot.com/2009/09/skinheads-cult-of-trouble-by-ian-walker.html (credit to the original poster).


The Specials- Specials (1979)

Obviously no feature on Skinhead culture would be complete without an acknowledgement of the role that the 2-Tone label/ movement played in bringing the sounds of ska and the fashions of the Skinhead era to a new generation.

I thought that posting this LP might be viewed as something of a cliché, and I was sure that it was available in loads of other places. Not so, apparently.

So I dug out my 31 year old vinyl copy, bought in Boots for about £2.50 in November 1979. It's an absolute belter. Amazingly the next record that I invested my pocket money in was London Calling by The Clash. What a great time to be 14!

Here's some info on the record.
And here are some other posts on The Specials.


Judge Dread - Ska Fever (1998)

Alex Hughes (1945-1998) was a former Bouncer, wrestler and DJ. In the persona of Judge Dread he scored 11 UK hits (second only to Bob Marley for a reggae act)and also set the record for having the most releases banned from the airwaves
by the BBC (11- including the completely clean Molly- a benefit record for an Ethiopian famine in 1973). He was also the first British (or possibly even white) artist to have a hit in Jamaica.
When I was in school we swapped from having a free pass to use on the local service bus to a specially laid on coach just for us .
This meant more comfort, a guaranteed seat and no hassle off boys from other schools or old ladies telling us to behave. On the plus side you got home earlier, on the downside there was no smoking.
Our regular driver was a Jack the Lad character called George. He was from Essex, probably about 40 and I reckon he was something of a ladies man, like one of those cool uncles you only ever meet at weddings, Burt Reynolds moustache, gold bracelet and tan.
George used to play Judge Dread on the cassette player of the coach and it kept us happy.
I was a bit perplexed when I saw the Judge in a music paper- older lads had told me he was a Skinhead act, but in fact he had collar length hair. Apparently you didn’t need to have a skin-head in order to be a Skinhead.
The Judge followed in the tradition of music hall and the smutty seaside postcard innuendo. I would imagine that this was what appealed to good time George, the Judge was a Skinhead Benny Hill (or in the case of Up With The Cock TheTwo Ronnies).
An epitome of British working Class culture.


Dancehall '69

This compilation gives us a change from the usual 'classics' (but we'll have some of them soon!)


World Of Skinhead

This documentary by Doug Aubrey was shown on Channel 4 in 1995. In it we hear from Skinheads from all around the world who represent a cross section of the Skinhead culture in terms of their politics and attitudes.

My download link is dead but you can see the video here.


Ride Your Donkey- (1969)

Oh yeah, it's Skinhead month at Burning Aquarium. Here is some music for Skinheads...a
Trojan Records compilation from 1969.



Since reminiscing about Skinheads in my post on The Business the other day I've been giving a lot of thought to that particular much maligned subculture.
It was a wet afternoon. My girlfriend lives 2000 miles away and I don't drink, so the obvious thing to do was to go to the library and read Vol. XV (Ser- Soosy) of the Second Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary.
Berry & Van Den Bark in The Thesaurus of American Slang (1954) acknowledge Skinhead as a slang for a bald headed man, but the first usage in the now familiar context comes from The Daily Mirror of September 3rd, 1969:
A group of teenagers wear tight and rather short jeans, collarless T-shirts, exposed braces, big steel toe-capped boots and hair erased almost to their scalps. The lack of hair is what gives them their generic names.. crop heads, skin-heads or peanuts. The boots are good for kicking.

I remember hearing as a small boy that my uncle had been beaten up by Skinheads. About this time my father was working in Warwick and he remembers a gang of Skinheads walking down the street and his first impression, that they must be inmates from an approved school. A mate of mine got a job circa 1970 (the one he still does now!) because his crop, brogues and tonic suit impressed the old ex army bosses far more than the foppish long hair of the other applicants .
Looking at images of Skinheads from this era their hair doesn't seem particularly short, but this has to be considered in the context of the prevailing fashions of the time.
The early Skinheads embraced soul music, ska and reggae (although Richard Allen's pulp hero Joe Hawkins cited Street Fightin' Man by the Rolling Stones as his fave record). The fashion soon became more mainstream (even Slade were skins for a while) and, unsurprisingly the look was very popular on the terraces as British football hooliganism entered its first golden age.
By the time I had reached adolescence in the late 70's Skinheads were still in evidence. The Two Tone scene revived interest in the fashion and the original ska records. The political compass was a bit of an issue though. I remember terraces of 'Rude Boys' and Skinheads chanting Seig Heil to the tune of the Birdy Song, and the skins were more interested in creating general mayhem than following any particular political agenda.
Then along came Oi! and the hybrid of Punk and Skinhead. At this time most skins weren't listening to ska, it was all flat out punk stuff.
At this time there were quite a few Skinheads in my town. I was fascinated by them, and despite my leanings towards love, peace and harmony, I had soon become one of those strange punk-skin mutations. I got friendly with a few skins- I admired their genuine don't give a fuck attitude and contempt for all authority.
As mentioned briefly in a previous post, one of the most exhilarating nights of my life came when I travelled with a minibus split 50/50 punks and skins from Merthyr to see a gig featuring Cardiff's The Oppressed . A pub full of conspicuously shortarsed Skinheads rumbled the fact that I was a 'Jack' and I spent the rest of the night dodging and literally running for my life. Later that year I went to a Crass gig with a couple of Chelsea casuals- that's a different story but neatly illustrates what a fucked up chameleon I was at the time!

Roddy Moreno & co. Anti Fascist and definitely anti- Jack!

Even into the 90's I was introducing some of the younger football lads (who remembered Madness and Bad Manners on Saturday morning kids TV) to the old Skinhead fashions and the original ska music (as well as the fundamentals of anarchy).
I suppose that I harboured some romantic notion that here was the mobilised proletariat who really could bring down the system, the dispossessed for once prepared to fight back rather than mouth off, but in my heart of hearts, as smart as they look, if I saw a gang of Skinheads coming down the street today I'd probably shit myself.

Skinhead nationalist graffiti, Samara, Russia 2008.