Take ‘Em All – Cock Sparrer

The most influential punk band to have completely flopped in commercial terms act as a litmus test for Punks and Fakers. In terms of the spirit of 77, if you don’t know who Cock Sparrer were, you’re the latter.

The band were part of the London punk rock landscape throughout the seventies but didn’t get a recording together until after the hulaballo had all blown over.

By the time the luminaries of punk splintered into New Romantic, Oi!, Post Punk and Stadium Bands come early 80’s, Cock Sparrer were a spent force.

Many bands who went on to bigger and bolder things grew up loving Cock Sparrer and they would routinely be covered or find tracks appearing on retrospective compilations. These albums would strip away the inequity of how things had been. On a 20 track sampler all bands are equal.

Their sound can righteously be claimed as a template for the Oi! scene that built up a bad reputation for bridging the cultural variance between gigs and football terraces and nasty thug behaviour.

Picking over the historic relic of their album Shock Troops can be concerning. It would be easy to conclude based on song titles like England Belongs To Me and Droogs Don’t Run that this was music for an unpleasant type of skinhead racist thug. The type of which the UK of the 80’s was infamous for.

Based on Take ‘Em All these songs are a construct of working class pride and youthful enthusiasm. The lyrics are punchy and boastful but they’re not singling out poor immigrants as their targets. They’re taking on the music industry.

“We worked our way up from east end pubs to gigs and back stage passes, Ex-boxing champs, West end clubs, Americans in dark glasses, driving ten grand cars, they drink in hotel bars they’re even making money in bed, they wouldn’t be no loss, they ain’t worth a toss, It’s about time they all dropped dead.”

If Joe Strummer was ‘So Bored of the USA’, Cock Sparrer are feeling ready to take it on. In musical combat.

The old adage of write what you know speaks volumes on Take ‘Em All. This chanty little punk anthem is their entire autobiography.

“Well tough shit Boys, It ain’t our fault, Your record didn’t make it, we made you dance, you had your chance but you didn’t take it, well, I gotta go make another deal, Sign another group for the company I don’t suppose we’ll ever meet again you’d better get back to the factory”

Only post 2010, in their reformed state are Cock Sparrer headlining punk festivals and reaping the respect of their peers in standing and in pounds shillings and pence.

If such a noisy load of yelling can be considered quite beautiful… Well… In context Take ‘Em All is just that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s