Monday, November 08, 2010


Skrewdriver are one of those bands more heard of than heard. As members of the Class of '77 British punk scene, one of the most celebrated movements in rock history, you'd think they'd be in the history books (they even did a Peel session), but a hard-right turn into Nazi/KKK territory had them written out as if they never existed. Their status as the premier neo-Nazi skinhead band has gained them a certain amount of notoriety, but I don't know of any record guides or rock history books that mention them, nor did I ever hear them on alt/college radio.

Sure, they're not that great, but plenty of other lesser UK punkers got ink. Hmm. Since when has rock 'n' roll been about upstanding citizenship? I wanted to know what they actually sound like. (Disclaimer: Nazis are bad.)

Their debut "All Skrewed Up" is decent raw, basic punk with a few unexpected, unpleasant forays into mainstream rock. There's not a hint of racism in this original line-up, tho their propensity for dumb lyrics was already coming to the fore on songs like "Gotta Be Young." As if an
yone has a choice about their age? Duh. But it is a catchy tune:

Skrewdriver "Gotta Be Young"

Bandleader Ian Stuart Donaldson dissolved this lineup, and re-emerged a few years later with a new-and-unimproved Skrewdriver that now openly embraced Nazi, anti-semitic, racist ideologies, with lyrics as un-poetic as slogans shouted out at a political rally. The irony of declaring themselves strongly patriotic Brits while supporting that which tried to destroy Britain in WWII is, of course, lost on them. And then there's the puzzling hatred of Communism. Why support one bloodthirsty dictatorship while condemning another - professional jealousy? (Har har!) The music didn't advance, even if the punk scene had. Still, they could come up with the occasional memorable melody:

Skrewdriver "White Power"

After this period, there wasn't much gas left in their musical tank. 1984's "Hail The New Dawn" album starts off with some exciting rockers:

Skrewdriver "Before The Night Falls"

before tedium sets in: dull production, plodding tempos, and weak songwriting won't whip up a race war any more then the tiresome repetition of lyrical themes that blunt the shock value after a while. Meanwhile, the oi! scene in British punk was moving in the opposite direction - faster, louder, and more engaged with the public, as Skrewdriver retreated into the neo-Nazi subculture.

I can see how a group like this might have caused some alarm in the '80s, but it all seems fairly toothless, even a bit pathetic now. Donaldson's death by car crash in 1993 ended the band, and the Nazi skinhead scene, tiny to begin with, became increasingly marginalized to the point that it's now practically invisible to the general public. Good night, Adolph...


tragedyman said...

Where did you find "All Skrewed Up"? I've been curious about that album ever since "Where's It Gonna End" opened Platform Mixtape #4, but haven't seen it anywhere.

...Mr Fab said...

It's in print, available as both a cd or downloads from Amazon. Tho I downloaded it off soulseek, a file-sharing site. I didn't want to give 'em any money or end up on nazi mailing lists or anything.

(Although the sheer existence of this blog has probably got me onto who knows how many FBI/Homeland Security watch lists!)

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that, contrary to your writings, the Nazi Skinhead "scene" is still alive and well especially in Eastern Europe, England and Germany.
It's gonna take a lot more car crashes before we're rid of these boneheads.

...Mr Fab said...

Sorry to hear that. Don't hear much about them here in America so I figured they'd gone away.

Or maybe the media just isn't interested in them anymore.

Anonymous said...

It's a BIG problem in some of the former Soviet states unfortunately.
There they attach themselves to football teams to recruit members, and commit horrendous acts against immigrants, minorities and gays.
The mob in England are a tiny but dangerously dumb bunch who have defected from the ultra-right wing BNP (British National Party) because they are now too middle-of-the-road for them, and attatched themselves to the emerging (and far more extreme) English Defence League.
The BNP are now discredited in the eyes of the extremists after a court ruling that, as a political party, they cannot discriminate against people joining on racial or sexual grounds.
This has of course led to many left-leaning blacks, asians, indians and homosexuals applying for membership just to fuck with them, which has scared off the hardcore bigots who used to make up their number.
Of course, these type of fanatics are far more likely to find an audience in these more financially troubled times where scapegoating immigrants for the lack of jobs is a far easier sell.
But i think, at least here, the anti-fascists are far better organised and more pro-active than they were in the days of Skrewdriver, so hopefully disaffected youths won't be suckered into the skinhead fold as easily as they were back then.
It's also a totally different era, Britain is a far more multi-cultural country than it was 20-30 years ago, and far more integrated too.
Sorry, i'm waffling on now.
No more Zoogz Rift? :(

...Mr Fab said...

Waffling as interesting as your points are always welcome, so waffle away.

And, yep, I've run out of Zoogz.

Reimer said...

"But i think, at least here, the anti-fascists are far better organised and more pro-active than they were in the days of Skrewdriver"

From the little I've seen of them, the 'anti-fash' mob resemble their supposed antithesis more than anything else, except their swastika armbands have a bold black line through them to signal their true allegiance. I presume their propensity for bullying, quasi-legal intrigue and righteous thuggery are what you are referring to as marks of their current health as a movement.

Oh and thanks for the music, mein host.