Tuesday, March 21, 2006
France is burning again as students have taken to the streets to demonstrate against government reforms concerning youth employment. This got me thinking about a very dark period in England's recent history where one woman took on the might of the trade union movements. Her name was of course Thatcher and the union in question was that of the miners, what followed was a long violent and bitter confrontation between the striking miners and the forces of law and order. During this period there were many a benefit gig to support the strikers and their families financially, one band that was very much aligned with this was the Redskins. Formed in Leeds at the start of the eighties, their image and music were out of favour at the time though the band managed to stir up some interest releasing their debut single 'Peasant Army' on the Leeds independent label CNT. In all honesty media interest was probably greatly helped by the fact that the bands leader Chris Dean was the working as a journalist for the NME under the pen name X Moore. Back then in the early eighties such in your face politics was largely thought to be a hang over from the seventies, and then the miners went on strike and political debate became cool again as did wearing displaying ones colours. It was in 1984 that the band signed on with London records, for whom they delivered their only studio album the 1996 'Neither Washington Nor Moscow'. The album serves very as a greatest hits collection containing no less than six singles including their only top 40 hit 'Bring It Down! (This Insane Thing)'. Television appearances were to follow, Top of The Pops, the Tube where they invited striking miners up on stage to deliver a speech during a song, not bad going for live TV. The Redskins called it quits in September 1986, I think that their decision probably had a lot to do with the problems they had coming to terms with working inside such a rigidly capitalist structure as a major label. Thankfully they have left us behind an excellent album where they were augmented by a small brass section to give the songs that little extra punch one of by favorites is 'Bring It Down' and their superb cover of '99 And A Half Won't Do' originally the b side of a single but can be now found on the re-edited version of their album available from 101cd for the ridiculous price of £3.99. Dojo released 'Redskins Live' in 1984 which very much duplicated the album set list, to find this one you much search your second hand dealers.
If I were to describe the Redskins in one sentence it would be of them being a Stax influenced skinhead boys band with a political conscience to make even Marx jealous.
The last sighting of Chris 'Tamla Motormouth' Dean was in Paris where he was then living so maybe he was down there on the frontline with the students!