Windspitting Punk – Swingin’ Utters

Swingin’ Utters occupy that bit of punk subculture that appears to be designed to support bigger names like Rancid and Dropkick Murphys but also have it’s own distinct skinhead vibe. Even if you see them on a festival stage you feel like you’re seeing them in somebody’s basement or living room. There’s many a million words both in print and online written about the word I just used. That divisive word. No, not Vibe.

Skinhead.

Skinnn-ead!

Boiled Eggs. Baked Beans. Slapheads. Skkkkkkkiiiiiiinnnnnn Eeeeeaaaaaddd!

That was how grown ups said the word whenever a kid in my age group got a buzz cut.

Long hollered football terrace style call outs. Skkkkiiiiiiinnnnn – (you get the idea)

Skinhead meant trouble. According to my Mum. It meant football hooligan. Gang fights, kick yer bleedin’ head in. And it meant racist. Irrespective of which uncle, aunt, teacher, adult was on the topic. I was a long haired rock kid anyway. What did I need to know more about a bunch o’ thugs. My heroes were Cooper, Hendrix, Maiden and a bunch of either queer looking hair metallers or heavy hippies like Sabbath. Forget those skinheads and their racism. We don’t need it. And so it went until I was old enough to start thinking for myself.

Once I’d started going to the niche record shops a few years later though… Then the kooky clubs and the pubs with the interesting jukeboxes. Well, it didn’t take long for my Metalhead mates to mix our Heavy Rock with some Punk. Then some Ska, some Reggae, some Moon Stomp. The first Skinheads we knew were kids from school we’d last seen heading in different directions to my gang and our garage band hangouts. They were desperate to dispel the racism myth. It was easy to believe when half of them were from a different ethnicity to my all white, long haired leather jacket crowd.

The local skins were a mix of skinny White, Asian and Polish immigrant kids from my school and the next one over. They all wore drainpipe jeans and Fred Perry shirts. There were big boots on the boys and shiny Mary-Janes for the girls. Black or green on the outside, orange on the lining bomber jackets for all. And they were lovely. All of them. Charming, happy clean living (to a degree), intelligent. When our gang crossed paths with theirs there was no broiling social tension or ‘Warriors, come out to play!’ I remember Susie Skin’s mum giving us a lift one time when we all missed the last bus. So I have to admit it was hardly This Is England. It was definitely a unified scene.

Even still, certain bands seemed to be ‘over a particular line’. Britpop was bubbling up behind us in the first half of the 90’s and genres didn’t seem to be so defined anymore. If you’ve never heard Swingin’ Utters and you just bought the new Garbage album it’s easy to conclude that it might not be for you.

Windspitting Punk is from that era. It reminds me now of Fanclub. The alternative night we used to go to with three floors of music and switching genres. Grunge, Goth, Metal, Punk, Indie and Cheese it said on the flyers (I hated the Cheese). DJ’s got an hour apiece. Some would play outside the lines. The top floor had the smallest dance floor. Goths and Skinheads could pretend the 90’s weren’t happening up there. If you got burnt out on Pulp and Nirvana you could go up top an hear songs that were not played on the radio or all over the NME.

Windspitting Punk would play alongside other Fat Wreck bands, The Specials and Toots and The Maytals while down in the main room the only Punk on show would be No Doubt or Green Day & The Offspring. It was like swimming in fresh water. I never saw a sign of trouble on the top floor of Fanclub. Until they replaced the Goths and Punks with Drum and Bass and Techno to try and broaden the appeal. That went down badly. It wasn’t wasted on me that The Utters had named their debut album after an Elton John lyric. This was not a scary other world punk band. This was goofy fun.

Merry Christmas Mr ForTheDeaf

Around Christmas time I was delighted to be gifted a comic book called Boots And Booze. It contains a series of stories as told in comic book form about the bands early days. Written and in some cases illustrated by the people who were actually there. It’s a charming little scrapbook of ‘remember the one time’ stories that almost always end up in the gang of cheeky little skins running from either the cops or some bullies.

It came with a free seven inch single of an old recording. It sounds like absolute garbage, but I really enjoyed it. The recording comes from one of the parties. So even tough it happened in the Bay Area not a suburb of London and even though I was not a Punk Kid the way these kids were Punk Kids I felt like I’d just run into Rocka Ralph or Susie Skin again on the steps of the town hall while we wait for Mannings to open.

Topfloor Fanclub Floor filler
Covering another pit punk classic. Cocksparrer’s I Got Your Number
A bit of a tune. From the debut album and from one of my favourite punk compilations: Give ‘Em The Boot II

6 thoughts on “Windspitting Punk – Swingin’ Utters

  1. I may be showing my age here, but this post reminded me that I once owned a copy of “Juvenile Product…” on pink cassette. I remember enjoying the Swingin’ Utters and even saw them on a few occasions at Gilman Street though their fan base was sort of on the “meathead” side of the East Bay punk realm.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So I hear. The Hard Times podcast talks about it a lot. I think my gig travelling days are behind me now. I did see CBGBs awning before it went though never an actual gig

        Like

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