Friday, 28 July 2017

Oi! The Back-Story [Lascivious, Ch.18]

In the words of that well-known baron of Oi!, Craig David, can I get a re-re-wind? Well you sure can, Craigyboi!

  According to a lyric sheet I have which came from the band, the Cockney Rejects song “Oi Oi Oi” was penned in June 1980. Even before this, Jeff ‘Stinky Turner’ Geggus and his lack of between song banter onstage - bar the occasional rallying call of the three Oi!s - is cited as the fire which ignited Sounds scribe and ‘Oi! The Album’ compiler Garry Bushell’s mind, then sewed the seeds of eventually grouping bands together under the Oi! banner rather than just streetpunk or real punk (as it was frequently referred to at first).
  However, like much of Oi!, the reality is deeply rooted in history and traditions, combined with a few happy accidents. If only Gal had remembered, he did actually refer to his own band The Gonads as “public bar punk with an Oi Oi vengeance” a good six months or so before it was ever applied to the Rejects (see clipping above, dating from July of 1979).

  Going back even further, one of the earliest songs ever committed to 78rpm shellac vinyl was a little ditty called “The Oi Song”. This was a jazz lounge and easy listening favourite, written by Harry Carlton and published as sheet music in 1932, with several different artists either playing or recording their own versions of this pioneering tune.  And rip up yer skinhead bibles, because Mr.Carlton himself was not the world’s first crophead, preferring instead a nice smooth fringe and jaunty moustache whilst performing this proto-streetpunk tune in a dinner suit. And pictured here, Mr.Clarkson Rose, a man who would probably balk at the very idea of 'combat jeans held up by braces'. Some copies of these records have survived being turned into plant pots, with the disc below dating from the same period and thus being a strong contender for 'the first ever Oi! record'.

  And with nearly 50 years between Carlton’s “Oi Song” and the 4-Skins “Chaos”, the lineage to fill in the gaps would be rooted firmly in music halls, cabarets, and pub knees-up singalongs, particularly in the east end of That London. Frankie Flame gigs provide a good perspective on what the whole kit and caboodle sounds like when mixed up together (and a far-off reminder of the last time West Ham won a trophy).
  Garry Gonad himself points to a chapter titled ‘The Oi! Comedians’ in John Fisher’s book on old British comics called Funny Way To Be A Hero, which was first published in 1973 and details the onstage careers of people such as Flanagan and Allen, Max Miller and Jimmy Wheeler (the last named being responsible for the ‘Aye Aye, That’s Yer Lot’ catchphrase).
  The likes of Chas & Dave, Ian Dury, and okey-cokey early punk by the likes of Cyanide and Menace provide further mad wires and links between the two, as do the “Zigger-zagger-oi-oi-oi” style football and playground chants we all picked up as kids in this period. And pre-dating the Rejects by a good couple of decades, Joe Daniels Jazz Band of the 1950s had a song called “Oi! Oi! Oi!”, which was basically an instrumental over which he would get members of the audience to shout “Oi Oi Oi” and other phrases at appropriate points.

  So there you have it - Oi!, really five decades late and borrowing ideas from all over the place in 1980, but as much of a right-place-right-time thing as it’s ever possible to be, and perfect to describe the best type of music there’s ever been. Oi Oi then.
Back over to you Craig in the studio... boi-ng!

Stuff to try at home once mums and aunties are out of the room:-

Basically, if you put together a child’s phonetic rhyme...

A sea shanty....

And some punk multivitamins, you get....

Or in Japan...

But remember to start by placing this in a mixing bowl....

The End.

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