Sham 69 had come along way by 1979. They had released two full length albums, a number of singles and had established themselves as one of Britain's most popular punk bands. Their first album Tell Us The Truth had been the sound of raw punk at it's best and That's Life showed how the band were aware of every day problems facing the population at that time. Mark Caine had been replaced by Ricky Goldstein on the drums and the band had split for a short while. By mid 1979 they were back together and recording their third album.
Hersham Boys was recorded after the bands temporary split during mid 1979. The band had a new drummer and by now had a huge number of fans and supporters. Unfortunatly, for the band, some of their fans were violent and racist skinheads who caused many fights at their gigs. However the band were anti-violent and anti-racist. But the skinhead presence had led to many of their shows being cancelled. The band had split temporary because of this. Now, however, they were back with a strong album and a different sound.
The album kicks off with Money, this is a reasonably punky song, the riff sounds a bit more rockabilly orientated though. The song its self is how money is the cause to many problems. (Not the most original of themes) Jimmy's vocals sound a bit weak here and it probably wasn't the strongest track to open the album. Fly Dark Angel is up next. This song is a bit more softer and the guitar playing here is great. The bass also sounds a bit distinguished. Jimmy's vocals also sound much better. This makes up for the previous track. The next song, Joey's On The Street, has a strong piano riff in the background, the guitar playing is also good. Dave Parsons playing has odviously evolved over the previous years. This is a bit like Money as it sounds more like a general rock song then a punk song. Cold Blue In The Night, starts off with a bit of guitar static and then opens with a punky riff. Again you can here a rock organ in the background. This is a pretty strong track and is lyrically sound and the vocals are admirable.
The next section of the album really lifts its status. You're A Better Man Than I, is one of Sham's slower songs but also one of their best. It is a cover of a 1960's rock song and offers some of the best guitar playing on the album. The bass playing here is also pretty great, as is the vocals. Next up is the album's title track and is my favourite Sham 69 song. It was also their most successful single. Hersham Boys has a sort of sing-a-long football chant chorus. Lyrically pristine and the bass stands out amazingly as well. This song represents the bands fondness for their town and their friends and is the stand out track on the album. Lost On Highway 46, is the band's tribute to James Dean. The guitar playing mixes a stong rock riff and later a punky riff. Although the let down for this song is the bridge. It has a bizarre sounding piano and is the songs only weak point. It finally ends with a police transmission about finding James Dean dead on Highway 46, after a car accident. Voices, is a bit similar to Joey's On The Street as it has the piano riff in the background again and sounds very similar to it. A bit of a let down after the last few tracks.
Questions And Answers (not the same as the single version) is another one of the albums stand out tracks. It is about living life your own way and not doing what others tell you to do. It is again on the bands greatest songs and features some of the album's best guitar and bass playing. Jimmy Pursey's vocals are also great here. The next track was actually recorded live, but don't let that fool you. What Have We Got? is a solid live recording and is about how the band has each over and its fans. The guitar playing is again pretty good. The vocals are however a bit drowned out by the other instruments though. The next two tracks were originally extras that came on a separate disc. They are extended versions of Borstal Brakeout and If The Kids Are United. Although the recording work is pretty amazing, the tracks themselves are nothing special. Both the classic tracks drag on for too long in these extended version. Borstal Breakout is 8 minutes whilst If The Kids Are United is a tedious 16 minutes. It's odvious why they were only originally thrown in as a last minute addition.
Overall this album is pretty excellent. The guitar playing is solid through out and shows how Dave Parsons playing has significantly evolved. The bass playing is also great. The Vocals are admirable in places but a bit weak in a couple of tracks. The drum playing is a bit weak and is very simple throughout the album. The album features some of Sham's greatest songs and was, commercially, their most successful album. It is probably my favourite album by them. There are a few mediocre tracks and the extended tracks let it down a bit. Apart from that, this is a pretty superb album and is essential for any Sham 69 fan.
Fly Dark Angel
You're A Better Man Than I
Lost On Highway 46
Questions And Answers
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