(No official website.)
Style: alt rock, punk, hard rock, British, skinhead
Label: Rock-O-Rama Records
Home: Britain (deceased/disbanded)
Members: Ian Stuart ~ guitar/vocals
I love the diversity of metal & hard rock, which is what initially inspired me to start writing this blog. If it's not the most diverse genre of music ... well, I dare you to prove it. But, while you're working on that fruitless task let me tell you about this album that I originally picked up for it's diverse nature, which I'll explain later, & was surprised to find the music was far better than any stereotype I had in my head. I knew about Ian Stuart & Rough Justice, RJ being one of his many backing bands, & deliberately set out to find the music to uncover this fringe hard rock band. It was a worthwhile effort. Fuzztone guitars largely reminiscent of the Stooges over a simple bass/drum rhythm, though all sounding like they were recorded in a reverb-heavy wind tunnel due to some poor production values, or maybe its deliberate as the focus is really the vocals which stand out incredibly clear. A southern drawled construction worker is the best I can describe the singer Stuart, or on the other hand he could be the British Springsteen. What makes this more than just another garage band is the clear message of social protest through some well-crafted poetry. Stuart, due to a troubled reputation, has probably some of the most underrated lyrics of the past 30 years. "Once upon a time in a land so true, the land of milk & honey for me & you ... now you're just another begger in a long long line & then they wonder why there's a rising rate in crime" is in the highlight "Can't Spare The Time" with the great chorus. This is probably one of the least cliched & most ear-catching social songs I've heard in awhile. I'm waiting for this song & all that follow, all in the same social commentary vein, to appear on a movie soundtrack. While "Early Warning Sign" cries "Do you believe the lies they teach on MTV & in papers ... we are free spiritually" or "He says every man is equal, every man is the same, but one man is rich, another's poor, life's a funny game, we're having a good time" from the ironically titled "Having A Good Time". But, let's go back to my note of diversity before I find myself quoting every song which I want to do. Socially relevant lyrics are not new. But, it's whose singing them that's diversity. The late British poet/singer/social activitist Ian Stuart is laregely considered, or I should say more accurately iconized as, the father of the hardcore music scene of the Neo-Nazis, Skinheads, KKK & White Nationalists/Supremists, particularly through his bands White Diamond, the Klansmen & the more popular Skrewdriver with their seminal albums Freedom What Freedom, Blood & Honour, Boots & Braces & the classic White Rider. The album titles themselves give away all you need to know, though it should be said that Stuart started his career as just another punk rocker before taking up the White Supremist cause so these titles only reflect his later career. When you're listening to Stuart you've hit the hardcore area of White Supremist music, one of the greatest fringe elements of hard rock & punk. Stuart is the stereotypical bald, boots & braces (suspenders) wearing Neo-Nazi & I'm pretty sure created the look now adopted by many of his musical protege. Yes, his songs are laced with racist ideology, but throughout his career one will find an equal number of complaints against big business, the Reds (largely dating his recording output) & a largely Marxist cry of consolidation for the working class amongst other causes. Justice For The Cottbus Six is largely absent of anything but the Marxist cry as it was recorded in Germany in protest against the German government that arrested six British nationalists for crimes they didn't commit but their dress make them guilty. A racist singing about defeating the Reds? Big Business? Crying against the lack of social welfare? Unjustified arrests? If you don't believe me you probably haven't done your research of the Skinhead movement beyond the stereotype. Sadly, his social protest songs - as good as anything by Joan Baez - will never be heard because of his racial beliefs that most people will probably find horrid. Considering Stuart had a career that spanned punk, rockabilly, rock & folk with some great albums, never to be heard by the general public, one wouldn't wonder if it hadn't been worth it to follow the advice of the heads of the Nationalist movement who asked him to censor his lyrics & tone down some of the hate speech. Is that not ironic? It's as if they were embarressed by their own beliefs! For those reading who support freedom of speech except when it goes to what they label as hate/racist speech, even though there's nothing hateful or racist on this particular album, you'll be pleased to know Stuart's band was banned from London & he even served time in prison ... though for defending himself against a gang of British blacks who didn't like his hairstyle. He died in a car wreck when his car was said to malfunctioned?
(featured on the Roman Midnight Music CD Reviews & Interviews podcast: episode 30 Rock Messengers Of The Past, September 2011, click here to listen)