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Fresh Perspective

A few year's ago I was asked to write an article for an aspiring magazine publisher. Their aims were ambitious and their instructions were, "write about anything you want." Well, I did, but the article was never published because the magazine never made it to a second issue, or maybe it did and my piece was cut, I never followed up. I came across the article today while looking for something else in an old email- wholly forgotten, but a pretty decent read about a record I re-visit occasionally, Fresh "Out of Borstal". I decided that since I put the time into it I might as well put it somewhere. This is somewhere...

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Fresh Perspective

By Max Campbell

If Fresh “Out of Borstal” came out today, it wouldn’t stand a chance. The acute social-critique-concept-album would be spurned. The modern equivalent of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger teamed up with a producer like Simon Napier-Bell to make music for boot-boys would set off online outrage. Skeptics would label the album a contrived attempt by outsiders to infiltrate and trivialize a lifestyle they weren’t a part of—at best. Luckily, the record came out 45 years ago and if skins took exception to being pandered to, they showed their distaste by letting the release drift into obscurity.

Famed manager Simon Napier-Bell put Fresh’s “Out of Borstal” together as a concept album about the borstal detention system for adolescent boys in 20th century England. Napier-Bell, who had previously worked with the Yardbirds and an early Marc Bolan project (John’s Children) and later went on to form Wham!, had a cunning pop sensibility. His need to be on top of musical trends is evident from his big hits, and in this case, his misses.

Lore has it that the inspiration for “Out of Borstal” came from a chance encounter with the Who’s former manager, Kit Lambert, who had recently wrapped a concept album about a blind pinball player (wink, nudge). Napier-Bell’s goal for the project was to engage a demographic of young skinheads and suedeheads that were in fashion in late 1960s London. The subject of borstal prisons was topically relevant to street kids and Napier-Bell concocted a group of young musicians that looked and played the part. FRESH consisted of Robert Gorman, Kevin Francis, and Roger Chantler, who after “Out of Borstal,” would go on making music as the band Glencoe. The album features a team of song-writers headlined by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and even enlisted some kids in a borstal prison to sing backups. On paper, this record was set up to be a smash hit. So why haven’t most people heard of it?

The record opens up with (what we are to presume are) borstal boys whistling, before it gives way to the gliding singalong rock track, “Shifting the Blame.” This is an unheralded classic that has three verses to set the theme of the album while the chorus makes a plea for reasonableness, “It’s hard to judge the reason, why the children go wrong, but easy enough to place the blame.” The Richards/Jagger influence is evident off the bat. Side A then meanders in an out of bouncy pseudo-glam rock tunes for the rest of side A with only one or two tracks that really stand out, although “Hit & Run” is undeniably a rocker. By the time side A winds down, one begins to think maybe they‘d have been better off cutting their losses after the opening track. This notion is quickly dispelled as the B side opens up with the gem of the album, “See You Later.” This song sounds like vintage Rolling Stones and the guitar riff stands up against any of Richards’ classic hits. The Richards/Jagger touch is palpable on a few more spots on the album, but never to such great effect as both sides’ lead-off tracks. What’s stranger yet is that the album is interspersed with rather ambiguous sounding love ballads and only one spoken word track from the mouth of a young man who had been convicted of assault and sent to a borstal facility.

All told, the record has a few great songs, but generally comes off lacking cohesion. What’s infuriating to this listener is that it seems obvious that this record came very close to knocking it out of the park. If there were one or two more spoken word tracks to replace the jaunty love songs, the concept may have been fully realized. Finding this record for the first time 45 years after the fact, one can’t be bothered by the fact that this group was essentially formed to be a skinhead boy band—all of those petty facts fall by the wayside if the record captures the sound, energy, and emotions of the time.

Still I’m left to wonder if its best that Fresh’s “Out of Borstal” fell off the map. The conversation surrounding authenticity in the Oi! scene is rarely pleasant and often turns ugly. Today, the methodology behind making this record would be rejected. It would get beaten down by critics before anyone had a chance to feel the first few hypnotic lines of “Shifting the Blame.” Maybe that was the reaction in 1970 too; it’s possible that folks don’t know about this record because kids collectively decided that they didn’t want their music to be so obviously targeted at them. We don’t have the online journals for posterity’s sake to verify how this album got swept over, but I wonder if it’s not the aforementioned issues combined with the fact that the album didn’t realize its full potential.It’s for that reason that I wish there was more of a precedent for internet trolls to decry Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for writing music for boot-boys, because it sounds like they could have been pretty fucking great at it.

Sources:

Napier-Bell, Simon. Black Vinyl, White Powder. Ebury Press. England. March 22, 2001.

http://killyourpetpuppy.co.uk/news/fresh-out-of-borstal-rca-records-1970

https://standupandspit.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/fresh-out-of-borstal/

Posted on June 7th, 2019
Now for our biennial update...

I'm seriously so shitty at updating this news section. Should probably take it down but I like leaving it up in the expectation that one day it will be used as a blog of sorts to talk about OTB bands, other bands we like, other stuff we like, and probably share some pet pics.... but that's a long way off.

If you want pressing OTB news you're probably better off checking social media... instagram is going to be the most active because it has the least words. Holy shit do people go on about the most meaningless nonsense when given the opportunity. Like we're all so fucking important... Anyway, here's a pic of my dog, Izzy.

Izzy

Posted on March 16th, 2018
The State of the Boat

Supporters of Oi! the Boat,

This is Max, the captain at the helm writing to address a topic that is in no way private, but I've stayed away from addressing publicly for a while. As many people may have heard, one of the founding members of Oi! the Boat and my good friend Joe E. Theboat will no longer be participating in the label. My thoughts on this situation will follow, but first I think it's important review Joe's statement regarding his departure:

Like Joe said, there's no bad-blood between us at all. I fully understand his situation and support his decision to move on from the label at this time. However, as I said in a recent interview for Oi! of America -- Joe is simply a one of a kind dude and cannot be replaced. As such, I'm not going to try to replace him with another partner. Instead I'll be relying on a lot of awesome people that I've met along the way to help supplement the areas where I'm deficient. 

To say that Joe will be missed from the label would be an understatement, however I'm happy that we're still tight and know that I'll always be able to rely on him in an advisory role if needed. Businesses like ours don't often pull back the curtain, but to understand the nature of our label; where it came from and why we've enjoyed any measure of success, offering a glimpse in this case seems prudent. 

I first met Joe at a Hudson Falcons show in 2002, but didn't really start getting to know him until I moved to West Lafayette to attend Purdue in 2004. From the day I set foot in town he was welcoming and accommodating to me in every way that a kid in that situation could hope for. We knew each other first through the music scene, but quickly developed a friendship outside of those common interests. Joe got me my first decent job, helped me deal with break-ups when I was being a bitch, taught me a thing or two about decent beer, and on and on.... Over the years I've been able to lean on Joe for advice in all facets of my life and he's always more than answered the call. People like that don't come along often so I feel that it's important that people who know us only through Oi! the Boat realize that the label is only one aspect of our friendship. 

In summation-- the Boat is still riding high on the seas and every other lame metaphor I could put here. There's tons of exciting new projects on the horizon and we're eternally grateful for the continued support. So in the mean time, raise your glass and say a toast to my friend, and a true bad ass that helped build what we have today. 

Cheers, Joe. Couldn't have done it without you!

-Max

Posted on June 24th, 2015
The Old Firm Casuals debut LP "This Means War"



 THIS MEANS WAR!


The Old Firm Casuals (Lars Frederiksen, Casey Watson, and Paul Rivas), who have delivered an impressive series of EPs at a feverish pace since their inception, have now released their debut full length-


"Released" doesn't do this record justice. "Released" might make you think that The Old Firm Casuals got together and recorded another dozen or so great songs. It might make you think their debut LP is merely the next step for The Old Firm Casuals. While we were all focused on each impressive step of the band's all-out sprint since Oi! the Boat first delivered them to the shore, The Old Firm Casuals had their eyes locked on something on the horizon. While we would have been content to watch them run forever, they were not running for the sake of running. They had somewhere they wanted-or needed to be. They had a predestined purpose for the momentum they worked hard to build.  Unleashed.


"This Mean War" is like the adrenaline soaked battle cry of a band smashing through the shield wall and unleashing what they prepared during a long voyage spent honing, preparing, and anticipating this moment.


"This Means War" is a declaration- The Old Firm Casuals have arrived.


Highly Recommended. 


-Joe E. TheBoat

Co-Cappytain

Oi! the Boat Records


 Order the CD, LP or Digital Download from Oi! the Boat Records the Record Store HERE.


Posted on July 30th, 2014
Oxley's Midnight Runners Talk, Release EP (part 1)

Cappytain's Log  May 1, 2014

Oi! the Boat has teamed up with Randale Records in Germany to release OXLEY'S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS debut EP entitled "We Are Legion".  While the Runners are a brand new band, the players should be familiar to any fan of American Oi! and street punk.  Today I decided to sit down with the band to talk about where they're going and where they've been.  So, here we go:


OTB:  I’ve listened to music produced by all of you for over half of my life.  OXLEY'S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS have each played with bands known by many of us that listen to good music: 90 PROOF, FATSKINS, RANCID, THE OLD FIRM CASUALS... Can you tell me a bit about OMR’s members history with these bands? And, were any of you fans of each other’s other bands in the past?

Lars:  First,  OXLEY'S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS is Mike on vocals, Jeff on Drums and vocals, Dave on Bass and Lars on Guitar.  I was a big fan of the FATSKINS when I first heard them. 

 “Thinkin’ Like a Fatskin” was one of my favorite albums when it came out.  It’s still solid today.  90 PROOF is another great band- if I remember correctly, I heard them for the first time on the split they did with the TEMPLARS.


Dave:  Mike, Jeff and I have known each other and been friends for 25 years.  I was and still am a fan of thier bands.  Mike has asked me over the years to sing parts of songs with the FATSKINS, and it has always been my pleasure.  I have gotten the opportunity to sing with Mike on 3 tracks.  I got to sing backup vocals with Jeff on the 90 PROOF recordings.  I have been a long time fan of RANCID, and really like THE OLD FIRM CASUALS.  

Jeff:  So for me, the only time I heard stuff Lars was doing was through my daughter, who is a fan.  I used to be in the Army and was stationed in El Paso TX back in 93-95.  This was when we did the 90 PROOF stuff.  I sang. We recorded a number of songs, released an EP on One by One Records out of France and appeared on a few compilations:  Super Yobs II on Vulture Rock, Oi! We Are the Bois!, Oi! it’s a World Invasion II. Dave actually sang back up vocals on all those songs, too. I started 90 Proof Records and released the EP Lars mentioned along with a FATSKINS / OPPRESSED split EP and the FATSKINS / PATRIOT one too.  Mike was gracious enough to use some lyrics I wrote about him and I on the first FATSKINS CD.  The three of us go way back. Mike, Dave and I were all in BOOT PARTY immediately post high school (I think Dave was a Senior).  Dave played bass, I was Drumming, and Mike was on vocals, of course.  We recorded 3 songs- but never released anything.  

 

OTB:  I bought all of those 90 Proof Records releases new in the 90’s and that FATSKINS CD when it came out too.  Luckily, I think I still have all of them! I never really put a value on CD's like I do vinyl, but somehow the Thinkin’ Like a Fatskin disc has survived in my collection over the years!  So, Boot Party- no relation to the Fresno or South Carolina BOOT PARTY then?


Jeff: No relation. We actually used that name at least 2-3 years before they formed.  


Mike: Yeah, no relation at all. This was way back in what, ’91 or ’92? With Jeff, Dave and I being from the same hometown we always supported what the other did. It was good times doing our BOOTPARTY band way back then 

and I’m happy as hell that we’re all working together in another band with Lars. The first time I heard OLD FIRM CASUALS I was actually over at Dave’s house. I was impressed with what I heard and couldn’t be happier to be working with all three of them! Never was a RANCID fan but I honestly never 

really gave em much of a chance. After Lars and I first decided to do this I picked up everything in their discography and they’ve done some good shit over the years for sure. They’re also one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, no bullshit.

OTB:  At the time many of us assumed that anything that we learned about through channels other than duped tapes, zines or in basements and backyards was probably not worth checking out.  RANCID gained the attention of the outside world, which sort of put them outside of the view of a lot of us that were geographically far enough away that their name was made known to us through the wrong channels.  BUT they were actually making really solid punk and zero compromises.  Luckily, I had run across Lars and Tim talking in an interview about their influences- which were a lot of Oi! bands that we were listening to.  In landlocked pre-internet-fly-over country, stuff like BLITZ, LAST RESORT, SPARRER, SHAM, etc, were like secret passwords that'd quickly get you admitted to our circle.  Knowledge of them would definitely get you a place to crash.  Seeing Tim and Lars mention these bands as influences was an instant in with me.  Once I checked them out, I loved them and still do.  I agree, they are great live.  Lars is a machine- there's a reason that so many people want him on the stage.  So, in short, I've been a fan of the bands all of you have been part of for a very long time.  I'm excited for this release and for you as a band!






OTB: So, now that we know where you all were  in days of BYOFL and postcards and the time since, lets talk about today:  OXLEY'S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS-  How did the band come about?


Lars:  Me and Mike both did guest vocals on a song called Valhalla Bound by a band called Bricktop a few years back.  We both sent emails to each other saying that we liked what the other did with the song.  We first met in person on a tour that we did together.  We became fast friends and stayed in touch.  During one of our phone calls a few weeks after the tour ended, I asked Mike what he was doing musically at the moment.  He told me he wasn’t doing much.  I told him that that was unacceptable and said that we should do a band together.  We bounced around a few line-up ideas. 


Mike:  I accepted and we bounced around some different lineups. When the dust settled it was Dave and Jeff and I personally couldn’t be happier! 


Lars:   Once we got Jeff and Dave aboard, it’s as if we’ve been a band for years.


OTB:  How does songwriting work, so far, in OMR?


Dave: The nice thing about this band is that everyone brings something to the table.  We all work very well together.


Lars:  We all contribute with the way the music ends up, so I would say it’s a group effort from start to finish.  I had a few riffs that I brought in and Dave had the chorus bass line of We Are Legion.  We would all sit around and put them together.  So, basically, we would just build a song around those rough ideas.  Mike and Jeff put lyrics to them  Everyone in the band is accomplished, in their own right, so there are no egos, at all.  Like a band should be.


 Mike: It’s definitely a group effort. Everybody had some sort of input or another. Lars has vision like nobody I’ve ever worked with and the fucking intensity to go with it. 


(Continued below and at Part Duex )


© 2014 Oi! the Boat Records, www.oitheboat.com

Posted on May 2nd, 2014