Vinyl Vlog 467

Vinyl Vlog 467

Thursday, 10 December 2020

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the Oi – 40 Years Untamed compilation from Pirates Press Records. I confess that, when I first heard the punk subgenre known simply as Oi!, it was pretty far from my favorite thing. At the time, the music just didn’t seem to be too interesting to me – and it didn’t help that a couple of my friends insisted on playing Dropkick Murphys’ “Barroom Hero” constantly – often dedicating it to another dim-witted skinhead we knew – and the music often seemed just a hair too samey, track-by-track. It wouldn’t be until years later that I’d really develop an appreciation for the music – and it’s now that the release like Oi – 40 Years Untamed can fall on receptive ears.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that this comp is not the first of its type. In fact, it’s an anniversary release – of sorts. The first release of Oi! The Album came out forty years ago, and expressed a movement in punk away from the original, fashion-conscious English punks and toward the workingclass rebels who knew that their voice was just as valid as any in the scene. So they dropped their heads, got to work, toured and wrote as much as they could and, forty years later, this new compilation celebrates the original spirit of Oi! as well as all the moves that the music has made since.

In keeping with the “workingman”’s spirit of the compilation, all of the cuts on the record are new songs by well-established names, which haven’t appeared elsewhere; unlike most comps of this type, listeners will discover to their joy an all-new affair rather than an channel-surfing, cherrypicking endeavor. That forces the songs to make a first impression with listeners; this critic’s first impression was that the comp’s pretty good – but is not without its bum cuts.

…Even so, there’s no question that Oi – 40 Years Untamed opens strongly. Cock Sparrer’s “Take It On The Chin” gets the record spinning with some classic U.K. styling, and that vibe endures very well through the Lars Frederiksen showcase which is Stomper 98’s “Bessere Zeiten” and The Old Firm Casuals’ “Noddy Holder (Bootboy Mix).” Some critics could scoff and complain that the number of cuts which feature the Rancid guitarist is more than a little opportunistic [Frederiksen also happens to play in both of those aforementioned bands as well as, presumably, having a little financial interest in the label –ed], but they’re clearly staring at paperwork more than they’re listening; on this A-side, every song boasts a staggering amount of heart and appeal – more than enough to have listeners humming them in the shower, later.

The B-side of the album continues in a similar series – albeit with less input from Lars. Standout cuts like The Drowns’ “One More Pint,” The Business’ “You Know My Name” and “Life In The Shade” by Noi!se all nail listeners hard like a golf shoe to the chin with incendiary guitars and very street-y heart, and then have the good sense to clear the way for the next successive cut until the needle lifts. On paper, there’s no denying that the play through Oi – 40 Years Untamed feels like a very quick run – but in fact it simply comes off as a very satisfying one. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s no-nonsense; it’s precisely what fans of Oi! expect of this music. [Bill Adams]


Oi – 40 Years Untamed is out now. Buy it here, directly from Pirates Press Records.

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