SHAG NASTY BROKEN BRITAIN E.P.
Its not often I get an EP to review where the tracks were recorded
over a period of 32 years. But then again not many bands are SHAG NASTY.
For those of you unaware the band was started back in the heady days
of 1977 when guitarist Riff Starr and singer Gary formed a punk rock
band. However they had a seemingly insurmountable problem in that they
had neither equipment nor money. But with the generosity that was to
mark become his trademark, long standing friend Joe Strummer provided
them £500 from The Clash's CBS Records advance and they were on
During the early scene they gigged continually around London, playing
alongside such stalwarts of the fledgling punk seen as Menace, (pre
Nazi era) Screwdriver and X-Ray Spex. However they didnt just
limit themselves musically and one memorable concert at London's Rainbow
Theatre saw them supporting Dillinger and Clint Eastwood to a packed
audience of reggae fans. Their most infamous moment probably came when
supporting The Clash at the Britain's Burning Punk Festival in Birmingham
in July 1977, as faced with what they perceived as a potential flashpoint,
the local council shut down the gig.
After a fairly lengthy hiatus the band have returned and are both recording
and back on the road. They took in the Rebellion Festival at Blackpool
last year and have streamlined their set to include both their original
punk classics and some newer material. Which brings me nicely to their
latest release Broken Britain EP.
The first two tracks were recorded in 1977, and whilst production techniques
have changed dramatically in the intervening three decades, its
still nice to hear the raw sound of opener No Bullshit, Just Rock
n Roll. Whilst this undoubtedly has all the hallmarks
of late seventies punk, it also uses a certain amount of dub that at
the time was normally associated exclusively with reggae music. The
only other track I can recall of that era that also used this technique
was Wild Dub, the B Side of Generation Xs Wild
Youth single. It makes an old man like me happy to hear again
the early sounds of earnest British punk rock, before the scene became
stagnant and fragmented, and this track gives the EP a cracking start.
Second number Looking for Love starts with a nice bass/drum
intro, which leads into a good solid punk rock song, that rattles along
at a fair old pace complete with shouty verses and catchy chorus. But
dont take my word for it, click onto their website (www.snasty.co.uk)
and you can hear the God like genius that was John Peel praising the
great bass drum sound and ruminating on the fact that it
should have been a record. Wise words.
The remainder of the EP comes from the band as it is today, and whilst
they may be a little bit older in the tooth than when they first wore
a safety pin, time has not diminished their enthusiasm. High Speed
Punks still contains the buzz saw guitar, big bass sound and thumping
drums that were prevalent in their releases from a generation previously.
The band now sport an All Starr line up with founder Riff
Starr on guitar, Bow Starr on vocals, Straka Starr on bass and Nick
Aloha Starr on drums. If you fancy a night out seeing a band that was
truly there at the dawn of UK punk they next tread the boards at the
Borderline on November 26th along with Sham 69 and Alternative TV.
Just to show that there is a political side to their music, penultimate
track Power opens with a Jimi Hendrix type rendition of
the National Anthem that gives way to a tirade about the abuse of power
by our elected representatives. At a time when it is apparent that most
member of her Majestys Government (and opposition) are only concerned
with getting their snouts in the trough of expenses, Shag Nasty give
vent to the frustrations of all working class people in seeing the catalogue
of broken promises that seems to be a feature of all our politicians.
It finishes with a football chant that seems to show that they have
latterly developed an edgier Street Punk/Oi sound.
Final track Stranger in the City even has a Crass like
feel in parts with an almost military sounding drum style hammering
away behind a wall of electric guitars. However it still sits nicely
with the overall feel of a band rediscovering themselves, whilst keeping
true to their original principles, but redefining their sound for a
So if you fancy a slice of old, yet new, punk rock try raiding your
piggy bank and purchasing this EP if for no other reason than to prove
that punk didnt start with Green Day or the Offspring. Go to the
bands myspace page (www.myspace.com/shagnastyuk)
for details or try www.reverbnation.com/shagnastyuk
or even their label Detour Records.