Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cock Sparrer: Riot Squad

Once upon a time I had a back and forth with ex- Gang of Four member Dave Allen about my having written about the the band Cock Sparrer and Oi! music as related to the issue of racism (read the exchange here)... So let's get that whole thing out of the way, I find racism ugly, lame, dangerous, and uncouth and in writing about; Oi! and Cock Sparrer I am in no way endorsing or giving comfort to those who hold such points of view. I have always subscribed to the idea that in the words of comedian Steve White "racism is so stupid because there are so many reasons to hate people on an individual basis".


On to the music.

From Wiki;

Cock Sparrer are a punk rock band formed in 1972 in the East End of London, England. Although they never enjoyed much commercial success, they are considered one of the most influential streetpunk bands, helping pave the way for the late-1970s punk scene and the Oi! subgenre. Their songs have been covered by many punk, Oi!, and hardcore bands.

Their style was influenced by pub rock, glam rock and raw 1960s beat music as delivered by bands like the Small Faces and The Who. Their lyrics mostly dealt with topics related to the daily lives of working class people.

Their name derives from their original name, Cock Sparrow,[1], a Cockney term of familiarity.


and this months crime tune-

"Riot Squad"

When we were at school I thought he had it sussed
Fighting the law with the rest of us
Smoking, drinking, acting cool.
('Til) they started treating him like a fool
Then he stayed on his own for most of the time
Dreaming dreams of a life of crime
In and out of trouble, he cheated and lied
But who'd have thought he'd join the other side

[Chorus]
He's in a riot squad
The wanna fight squad
The shoot on sight squad
For law and right

Down to Hendon with the boys in blue
It's amazing what a few weeks can do
Out in the car, out on the street
South of the river on the frontline beat

[Chorus]

Cracking heads, it was all a game
A finger was pointed and he got the blame
Now he's back where he started, he ain't got a pound
Queing with the sorts he used to kick around.


So we have a kid from the streets, who becomes a cop, and then ends up taking the rap when the cops get caught doing something wrong. The song comes off like one of those 70s cop drama's set in the bankrupt rubble of NYC (or 70s London?) with enough of a hint of A Clockwork Orange to add a layer of social commentary. One aspect of that era in film and crime fiction of the time was the exploration of the line between the Police & Thieves, cops and robbers. Maybe the most interesting recent exploration of the theme was the UK version of the show Life on Mars.

All in all Riot Squad is a fast, up tempo street anthem with a bit of substance, it is exactly the kind of songs that made Cock Sparrer the cult band they are today. It is also one of the only songs that I have selected to write about for this project that I don't think would translate to another musical style.

Thoughts, Comments, observations?

6 comments:

LoydD_Motter11嬌潔 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Todd Mason said...

Well, hell, not all the original skinheads were racists, and not all of them have been since. (Machismic? Usually.) There's always some asshole (or set of them) ready to spoil anyone's party.

Cock Sparrer is a band I'd heard of, but I'm pretty sure I've never heard them.

Iren said...

Todd, I hear you, a few fools can often ruin it for everyone. If you haven't heard Cocksparrer I recommend checking out their Shock Troops album. It's an under rated gem that fits nicely next to The Clash in any music collection.

Evan Lewis said...

This sent me to YouTube to hear "Riot Squad". A good rocker!

Avri221lE_Pryce1 said...

閒來無聊逛逛blog~~跟您打聲招呼~~.............................................

韋于倫成 said...

一個人的快樂,不是因為他擁有的多,而是他計較的少。..................................................