Sham 69- Tell Us The Truth
The band gets onstage, and a riot commences on the audience floor. As violence and battery carries on in the unforgiving crowd, faint distortion lights up the stage, and “Borstal Breakout” arises into the stale air that creates the ambience that sham 69 was originally born into.
Sham 69 originally hailed from Surrey, London. Populated by Jimmy Pursey (Vocals), the original founder of the band, Dave Parsons (Guitar), Dave Tregenna (Bass), and Mark Cain (Drums), the band got their name from an entry of graffiti that Pursey spotted out in a bathroom stall. Sham grew to later be one of the most influential punk bands of the 70’s, and while they brought the style of nasty violence and illegal happenings to most of their shows, they are also the founders of the famous OI! football punk chant that was later used by countless bands. The band is also famous for being the first punk band with a top ten U.K single, “Hurry Up Harry”). While sooner or later, after their first 4 or 5 albums, the original Sham lineup split up, the band’s first 4 albums are the ones that really count, and the ones that would later cause big influence in the genre. In their first full-length debut LP, Tell Us The Truth
, the band includes a strange mix of live tracks and recordings that add up to be one of the best by the band.
Pointing out that the first six tracks are all live, the other eight are brilliant recordings, of which the band is surely proud of, and got them out to the public. To start out the ‘show’ or track one, Pursey announces the band and starts off with one of his best tracks, which shows the great ability of what the vocalist of a more harsh british punk band could achieve. We Gotta Fight also features some of the best guitar-work on Parson’s part, and ends with Pursey carrying on a bit about the rest of the tracks, with a bit of talking in the middle of each track. His vocals are something special, because while most of the time, they aren’t very easy to catch, the provide everything that the band stands for, and ever did. Pursey also shows his grand ability in Ulster, and Borstal Breakout, which shows that he clearly does better off at shows than in recordings. To carry Pursey on a bit farther, guitarist Dave Parsons holds another great talent to add to the lineup. While his solos stand out in nearly every bridge in the album, it’s his other work in the rest of the composition that’s really interesting, because while all his riffs sound pretty much the same, and really hold no talent whatsoever, the click with the others with such fashion, that it just makes the album that
much more interesting. His tracks on here are We Gotta Fight, George Davies Is Innocent, and Hey Little Rich Boy.
The rhythmic portion on here stands out a lot more in the recordings portion of the album, and is very faint and unrecognizable in the live tracks. Bassist Dave Tregenna and Drummer Mark Cain duke it out to provide us with even more beyond the energy going on in the front of the stage. Tregenna also plays more simple lines to add and backup Parson’s material, and plays something more than decent rarely on a few choice tracks (Hey Little Rich Boy, Tell Us The Truth). Cain on drums also has much more noticeable material on the recordings, and most of all, his mid-tempo beats are the ones that really stand out a lot, while he uses the hats to great extent, and uses just two toms for fills in perfect areas that actually need it. Cain also has his few actual shining tracks, (Family Life, It’s Never Too Late) and never really gets his way at shows.
As far as the album goes, it is an excellent experience for fans that somehow haven’t heard it, or for fans of the genre that never got a chance to. It has great progression from the short, but sweet six track show, and then eight recordings that stand out as well. As the live tracks are the highlights on the album, and really hold the potential of the band, the recording are also great listens and show different looks at the band from more angles. Get a look at the album that started off one of the greatest names in classic punk and what triggered Sham 69 as we know it.
Stand Out Tracks:
We Gotta Fight (Live)
Borstal Breakout (Live)
Tell Us The Truth
It’s Never Too Late