Formed: South London, England, UK
Drawing inspiration from Sham 69, these South London lads (and indeed they pride themselves on being “lads”) have been taking Cockney pride into territory that spills over into parody since 1979. Along with Cockney Rejects and Cock Sparrer they are probably the UK's foremost Oi!/Streetrock band, and even at their worst are miles ahead of most their competition (Infa-Riot etc). Unusually for a punk band, their best material was not their earliest: although they hit an early high with 1981's 'Harry May', as the 80's progressed they began playing slower and writing better songs. By 1985 they were delivering a commendable barrage of guitar noise very much similar to The Professionals, with songs about football, hooliganism, and football hooliganism, with anecdotes about rioting, smashing up discos and rucking thrown in for variety. Much of the time it sounds very much tongue in cheek, but they are capable of insight and even pathos on such songs as 'Out In The Cold', 'Foreign Girl' and 'Informer'. By the time they split in 1990 they seemed like yesterday's men, but when they reformed in 1992 they were astonishingly good, with their extremely charismatic and likeable singer Mickey Fitz sounding more Cockney-fied with each release.
Surfacing initially in 1980 with the poppy 'Out In The Cold' on the rather ropy A Sudden Surge Of Sound compilation, favourable review from Garry Bushell's in Sounds had them linked to Oi! scene, with Bushell including them on the Carry On Oi! comp, where they contributed two standout tracks, 'Suburban Rebels' and 'Product'. By the time of their first single, Harry May, they were therefore extremely popular. The single is an utterly classic example of singalong Oi!, but it was released in late 1981 after the Southall incident, where skins and Pakistanis rioted at an Oi! showcase. The band found themselves labeled pretty much as racists, a completely unfounded accusation, and by the end of the year only Fitz remained in the group, when founding members Steve Kent (guitar), Martin Smith (bass) and Nick Cunningham (drums) left.
Fitz bounced back with a new lineup in 1982, featuring three members of a local band called The Blackout: Steve Whale (guitar), Mark Brennan (bass) and Kev Boyce (drums), and this lineup released the grammatically unsound 7" Smash The Disco's (1982), another indie hit and another great record. Unfortunately, their debut album, also recorded an in 1982, never surfaced because the master tapes went missing. (They were eventually found and released in 1988 as Smash The Discos.)
They finally made it to the album racks in 1983 with the patchy Suburban Rebels. It includes their best known number, ‘Harry May', in its original 7" version, and added a dozen more working class anthems, all played with a lack of finesse but a fair amount of muscle. Cockney Rejects guitarist Mickey Geggus produced but he didn't do much to colour their sound, and the weaker numbers - including a dreadful re-working of ‘Employers Black List' (B-Side of 'Harry May') – plodded. In the face of bad reviews (even Bushell slammed it) and poor sales for the fourth official Oi! LP (Oi! Oi! That's Yer Lot!) the band split up again shortly after its release.1980-81 Official Bootleg crept out in 1983, containing a very sloppy live side and some early recordings, one of which (the excellent ‘Out In The Dark') sounds a bit like The Jam (although Weller probably wouldn't have kept the sheep noises). Spurred on by its indie chart success, Fitz reformed the group and came up with Loud, Proud And Punk – Live! . Recorded in a studio with crowd noises added, it featured many songs in common with 'Suburban Rebels' and the then-unreleased 'Smash The Discos' but was no more than adequate.
It was at this point that The Business - Fitz, Whale, Brennan and new drummer Micky Fairbairn (ex-Skinflix) - started becoming a properly good group. Although it occasionally verges on hard rock, album #2 Saturday's Heroes was a leap forward, with meatier production and better songs.
The remainder of the decade was spent grabbing headlines: the Drinkin' & Drivin' single saw them being accused of an irresponsible attitude to road safety; in August 1996 there was a riot at the Isle of Wight Scooter Rally, ending with the beer tent collapsing and caravans exploding; and at 1987's 'The Main Event' Oi! showcase the band was CS-gassed.
Welcome To The Real World - their third studio album - was recorded as a quintet with original guitarist Steve Kent back in the fold. It bulged with smile-inducing macho nonsense (‘Mouth An' Trousers', ‘We'll Take ‘Em On', ‘Never Say Never'), songs about how stupid “normal people” are (the title track) and their first Anti-Maradonn number (‘Hand Ball'). It's was even better than the previous LP, but proved to be their last LP for several years. Brennan left to concentrate on Link Records (and then Captain Oi!) and Whale formed The Heavy Metal Outlaws with Roi Pearce (Last Resort/4-Skins).
FItz, Whale and Fairbairn resuscitated the band in 1992 with Lol Proctor of The Elite on bass, and in 1994 released the terrible Anywhere But Here single in 1994. Fortunately, Keep The Faith had no shortage of terrace-friendly choruses fuelling ditties about football (‘Maradonna', ‘Viva Bobby Moore') and Kurt Cobain (‘Holiday In Seattle'). It tighter, faster and more musically adept than ever, proving there was a heck of a lot more life in the old dogs . All three songs from the preceding single were reprised in far superior form. Recommended.
The Truth The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth, their fifth proper album, was produced by Lars (Rancid) and Pat Collier (The Vibrators), and the band sounded more like a parody than ever. The songs were shorter and faster, the lyrical content confined almost entirely to working class gangsters, football and how great punk is (and other types of music aren't). For example:
In actual fact, this may well be their most honestly enjoyable album, particularly ‘Southgate (Euro 96)', with his once-heard-never-forgotten segue into a radically re-worded, hilarious rendition of ‘Lord Of The Dance'.
Following a self indulgent split album with drinking buddies the Dropkick Murphys, No Mercy For You reverted to the band's old style, with one ditty (‘Code Red') relating to a mate of the band who participated in a prison breakout, two songs (‘Hell To Pay', ‘Take Us And Use Us') from a gangster film, and one called ‘Guinness Boys'.
NO MERCY FOR YOU
The glimmer of the past is held so dear
there`s nothing else left for me here
We were young and withstood the knocks
we were the kings of the tower block
Smashing windows, fight all day
your no good - my mother would say
on the same side, even way back then
I've been kicking around this town so long
I don`t know what to do
No Mercy for you
All the buildings in my town are grey
Cold, Mean, Cruel - No future, No Way
With its own justice and rules within
walls this filthy have no sin
The police don`t come round here no more
protect the rich and fuck the poor
to old to cry, to young to know why
I justify this last goodbye
They still gig, and they still make records.
Mick Fitz - vocals
LINEUP 1981-1983, 1984:
Mick Fitz - vocals
Mickey Fitz - vocals
Singles / Albums
|Harry May (7", 1981)||Smash The Disco's
|Loud Proud And Punk - Live (LP, 1984)||Drinkin' And Drivin' (7"/12", 1985)|
|Get Out Of My House (12", 1985)|
|1980-1981 Official Bootleg (LP, 1983)||Back To Back
|Back To Back Volume 2 (2xLP, 1985)||Singalong A Business (LP, 1986)||Smash The Disco's
|In And Out Of Business (LP, 1990)||The Best Of The Business
|Live And Loud!!
(CD, split with Cock Sparrer, 1993)
|Smash The Disco's / Loud, Proud 'N' Punk, Live (CD, twofer, 1993)|
|Suburban Rebels / Welcome To The Real World
(CD, twofer, 1994)
|The Complete Singles Collection (CD, 1995)||Best Of Business: The Singles 1981-1995
|Loud, Proud And Oi! (CD, 1996)||Harry May - The Singles Collection (2xLP,1996)|
|Live (CD, 1999)||Harry May (CD, 2002)|
A Sudden Surge Of Sound UK LP 1980 (VU Records): Out In The Cold
Total Noise #1 UK 7" 1982 (Total Noise): Loud Proud & Punk
Wave News 2 - Independent Smash Hits Germany LP 1982 (Intercord): Smash The Discos
The Defiant Pose UK LP 1983 (Illegal): Loud Proud & Punk
Oi! - The Resurrection UK LP 1986 (Link): Mortgage Mentality
Oi! Chartbusters Volume 1 UK LP 1987 (Link): Suburban Rebels
Oi! Chartbusters Volume 2 UK LP 1987 (Link): Get Outta My 'Ouse
Oi!.. The Picture Disc UK LP 1987 (Link): Smash The Discos
Oi! Chartbusters Volume 3 UK LP 1988 (Link): Outlaw
Oi! Chartbusters Volume 4 UK LP 1988 (Link): Product
Oi! Chartbusters Volume 5 UK LP 1989 (Link): Chasing Rainbows
Oi! Chartbusters Volume 6 UK LP 1990 (Link): Disco Girls
Pop Oi! UK LP 1989 (Link): Out In The Cold
The Joys Of Oi! UK LP 1990 (Link): H-Bomb
The Oddities Of Oi! UK LP 1990 (Link): Get Out While You Can
Secret Records: The Punk Singles Collection Volume 2 UK CD 1995 (Anagram): Employers Blacklist / Disco Girls / Law And Order
Oi! The Singles Collection Vol 1 UK CD 1995 (Captain Oi!): Harry May / Employers Blacklist
Oi! The Singles Collection Vol 3 UK CD 1997 (Captain Oi!): Smash The Discos / Disco Girls / Dayo
MYSPACE - The Business Page
WIKIPEDIA - The usual mix of bio and discographical info
Interview with The Business done by Donny the Punk