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 anyone 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...