The Business Oi! Punk SKinhead

Formed: South London, England, UK

Go to the discography and skip the bio and photos and stuff

The Business - Oi! Oi! Oi!

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.

The Business Oi! Punk 1982

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.

The Business - Harry May Press Advert 1981

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.

The Business - Official Bootleg AdvertThe Business circa 1981

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.

Lineup #3

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.

The Business - Welcome To The Real World Lineup

The Business - Welcome To The Real World Lineup

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).

The Business - 1993 Keep The Faith Lineup

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 Business in 1993

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'.

The Business - Mick Fitz

The Business - The Truth The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth - UK CD 2007 (Captain Oi! – AHOY CD 294) Inside 4

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
Generation
Generation
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

Under The Influence is the inevitable, veritable stinker in the band's career. A pointless covers album, the band peddle all-too-reverent and decidedly inferior versions of olde Englishe punke songs (two Pistols, two Shams, ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do', ‘London Calling'), and even a few new American ones (two Green Day hits). Worse, two songs are merely well-known 1985 recordings (‘Hurry Up Harry', 'Get Out Of My House'), while the second version of ‘Do They Owe Us A Living' and ‘Pretty Vacant' are from Loud Proud & Punk. Outside of its moderate novelty value, this is useless.

They still gig, and they still make records.

 

The Business

LINEUP 1979-1981:

Mick Fitz - vocals
Steve Kent - guitars
Martin Smith - bass
C.F.C.(Crowds Favourite (Nick) Cunningham) - drums and lotsa moans

Recorded everything up to and including the Harry May 7", and fell apart in late 1981 just after recording 'Step Into Christmas' for the Bollocks To Christmas comp.
The Buiness 1982

LINEUP 1981-1983, 1984:

Mick Fitz - vocals
Mark Brennan - bass
Steve Whale - guitar
Kev Boyce - drums

Formed after a short period of about two months with Graham Ball on bass and John Fisher on drums. Recorded Smash The Disco's 7", the unreleased Loud Proud And Punk LP, Suburban Rebels, and Loud Proud And Punk - Live
The Business Oi! Skinhead Punk

LINEUP 1984-1987:

Mickey Fitz - vocals
Steve Whale - guitar
Mark Brennan - bass
Mick Fairbarn - drums

Recorded Saturdays Heroes LP

DISCOGRAPHY

Singles / Albums

The Business - Harry May The Business - Smash The Disco's The Business - Suburban Rebels The Business - Loud Proud And Punk - Live The Business - Drinkin' And Drivin'
Harry May (7", 1981) Smash The Disco's
(7", 1982)
Suburban Rebels
(LP, 1983)
Loud Proud And Punk - Live (LP, 1984) Drinkin' And Drivin' (7"/12", 1985)
The Business - Saturdays Heroes The Business - Get Out Of My House      
Saturdays Heroes
(LP, 1985)
Get Out Of My House (12", 1985)      

Extraneous Releases

The Business - 1980-1981 Official Bootleg The Business -Back To Back Back To Back Volume 2 The Business - Singalong A Business The Business - Smash The Disco's
1980-1981 Official Bootleg (LP, 1983) Back To Back
(2xLP, 1985)
Back To Back Volume 2 (2xLP, 1985) Singalong A Business (LP, 1986) Smash The Disco's
(LP, 1988)
The Buusiness - 1979-1989 The Business - In And Out Of Business The Best Of The Business The Business - Cock Sparrer / The Business - Live And Loud!! The Business - Smash The Disco's / Loud, Proud 'N' Punk, Live
1979-1989
(LP/CD, 1991)
In And Out Of Business (LP, 1990) The Best Of The Business
(LP+7"/CD, 1992)
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 The Business - The Complete Singles Collection Best Of Business: The Singles 1981-1995 The Business - Loud, Proud And Oi! The Business - Harry May - The Singles Collection
Suburban Rebels / Welcome To The Real World
(CD, twofer, 1994)
The Complete Singles Collection (CD, 1995) Best Of Business: The Singles 1981-1995
(CD, 1996)
Loud, Proud And Oi! (CD, 1996) Harry May - The Singles Collection (2xLP,1996)
The Business - Live The Business - Harry May      
Live (CD, 1999) Harry May (CD, 2002)      

 

Various Artists

A Sudden Surge Of Sound UK LP 1980 (VU Records): Out In The Cold

Carry On Oi! UK LP 1981 (Secret): Suburban Rebels / Product

Bollocks To Christmas UK 7" 1981 (Secret): Step Into Christmas

Total Noise #1 UK 7" 1982 (Total Noise): Loud Proud & Punk

The Secret Life Of Punks UK LP 1982 (Secret): Employers Black List / Harry May

Oi! Oi! That's Yer Lot! UK LP 1982 (Secret): Real Enemy

Burning Ambitions (A History Of Punk) UK 2xLP 1982 (Cherry Red): Harry May

Wave News 2 - Independent Smash Hits Germany LP 1982 (Intercord): Smash The Discos

UK/DK - The Original Video Soundtrack UK LP 1983 (Anagram): Blind Justice

Son Of Oi! UK LP 1983 (Syndicate): Out In The Cold

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 UK CD 1993 (Anagram): Harry May / Smash The Discos / H. Bomb

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

 

Links

MYSPACE - The Business Page
INTERVIEW
WIKIPEDIA - The usual mix of bio and discographical info
Interview with The Business done by Donny the Punk

 

You can add stuff and make comments/corrections by emailing me at:

jane@punkygibbon.co.uk

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