Cockney Rejects

"I know it might sound big-headed but we've done everyone who tried to have a go at us"
Mick Geggus, Rising Free fanzine, 1981

Cockney Rejects I'm Not A Fool Cover Photo

"Our music has always been about ourselves.
Our lives always revolved round a big shithouse of a place called East London.
We sang about violence because it was all we ever knew".
Vince Riordan, 1981

Very young East London skinheads, the Rejects were - musically speaking - lodged directly between Sham 69 and the Sex Pistols, but without the redeeming social conscience of either. As a matter of fact, vocalist Stinky Turner and his guitarist brother Mickey Geggus (the band's constants) were even more Neanderthal in attitude than the Gallagher brothers. Gratuitously artless in every respect, the Rejects swiftly became leading lights in the Oi! movement, and leant it it's name. They were aggressively proud of their "manor", London's East End, and also of their football team of choice, West Ham. This double whammy of working class pride turned their concerts into battlegrounds, as opposing factions congregated to beat the crap out of one another.

Did I mention that they were fucking great?

Formed in Canning Town in late 1978, in their original lineup Stinky Turner Mickey Geggus were complimented by bassist Chris Murrel and drummer Paul Harvey. They surfaced in July 1979 with a cracking EP on Small Wonder. They had deposited their demo tape at the Small Wonder record shop, and Pete Stennet had liked it so much that the same day he offered them a one-off single. Flares 'N' Slippers laid out the blueprint for their first two albums and simultaneous singles: football terrace "tunes", magnificently unsubtle guitar and walloping Paul Cook-esque drums. And over the top, Stinky shouts with absolute conviction, his lyrics full of references to fighting, extolling an "us against the world" attitude that is utterly compelling.

Armed with the enthusiasm of John Peel, and a new rhythm section - drummer Andy Scott and bassist Vince Riordan - they soon found themselves with an EMI Record deal and Jimmy Pursey producing their first single.

Cockney Rejects - Oi! Oi! Oi!Cockney Rejects - Kidz Next Door Tour

Flares 'N' Slippers was a resounding success and led to patronage from Pursey, a deal with EMI, Garry Bushell stepping in as their manager (and influential PR man), and a great twelve months or so that included six singles in the Top 70, three Top 30 LPs, several appearances of Top Of The Pops, and a slew of unbelievably chaotic, often violent gigs up and down the country.

They went through three drummers in this time, and were the absolute stars of Oi!, amassing rave review after rave review in Sounds, attracting the sort of fan who had gone off Sham 69 and having to fend off completely unfounded accusations of being racists.

Cockney Rejects - Oi! Oi! Oi!Cockney Rejects - Oi! Oi! Oi!

Their run of hit singles is remarkable, from the idiotic-and-proud-of-it I'm Not A Fool through to the hilariously moronic We Are The Firm, via the totally classic The Greatest Cockney Rip Off, which spills over into vaudevillian parody. Most of their single were proper hit records, with The Greatest Cockney Rip Off peaking at No. 21 and I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles reaching No. 35, no mean feat for such rowdy, radio-unfriendly fare.

Greatest Hits Vol. 1 and Greatest Hits Vol. II (both recorded with number Nigel Wolfe) are quintessential: thuggish in the extreme, practically each song boasts a chorus that sounds like a classic footer terrace anthem and the majority of the tracks seem to end with a barrage of burps, belches, jeering and general abuse. 'Oi! Oi! Oi!', on the second album, is a virtual manifesto.

Cockney Rejects 1980Cockney Rejects 1980

Greatest Hits Vol 3 (Live & Loud!) was actually recorded in a studio (Abbey Road), with a large mob of their friends invited to cheer along to such ' as 'We Are The Firm' and 'We Can Do Anything'. A cover of 'Motorhead' is there to hint ominously at their future direction. Their first record with new drummer Keith "Sticks" Warrington, and it was also the last time they troubled the charts. Easy Life, taken from the album, was a tedious, lumpy piece of rock, and it bombed.

The Power & The Glory marked the Rejects entry into, well, not adulthood, but something beyond acne-ridden adolescence. It came housed in semi-tasteful artwork (although haters of West Ham might not agree) and the back cover photo showed the band sporting headbands and traces of eyeliner, while showing off their tats and generally looking macho. Along with the sub-standard tie-in single On The Streets Again, it died a total death: EMI did not like their new direction and simply let it go. A shame, as it has some of the group's best numbers and is thoroughly rousing.

Cockney Rejects Power And The Glory Cockney Rejects 1982

ABOVE: The Rejects in go rock: 1981 (left) and 1982 (right).

After this they lost their manager, their record deal and their money (same old story: shafted by their erstwhile record company and their manager). They also lost their marbles, opting for a hard rock sound on a series of terrible albums that took them to obscurity and beyond, with Turner adopting a quasi-American accent and the abandonment of songs about football and fighting.

The Wild Ones (1982) was a boring heavy rock LP that somehow earned them a Top Ten Indie Hit. Although 'Rock N Roll Dream' was a guilty pleasure and 'Till The End Of The Day' was a fairly valid cover version, an artistic success it wasn't. By the time of 1984's Quiet Storm they had shortened their name to The Rejects and were in the doldrums. The LP came in one of the worst sleeves ever, even by heavy metal standards.

Stinky Turner: It was never going to go anywhere. I think the album went Teflon. It went wood in the Isle of Wight.

The lowpoint might have been a US tour in 1985 where they showed up with long hair, were booed off stage every night and were even held at gunpoint by Roger Rogerson of the Circle Jerks. Or maybe it was worse when, in 1986, they tried recording an LP with Steve Marriott producing and ended up fighting not only with him but also gangsters who showed up to rob the studio. Lethal (1990) was their last gasp.

Anyway, after Lethal the Rejects were kicked into touch for the best part of a decade, until an invitation to re-record some old songs led to more LPs and gigs.

Cockney Rejects - Greatest Hits Vol. II AdvertLINEUP #1 (1978-1979)

Stinky Turner - vocals
Mick Geggus - guitar
Chris Murrel - bass
Paul Harvey - drums

Recorded Flares 'N' Slippers

LINEUP #2 (1979)

Stinky Turner - vocals
Mick Geggus - guitar
Vince Riordan - bass
Andy Scott - drums

According to who you speak to and where you read it, either this lineup or next one is the "classic" one. Riordan was ex-Dead Flowers, Scott was ex-Tickets. Recorded their first Peel Session in August '79, and I'm Not A Fool (1979), Bad Man and Greatest Hits Volume 1 (both recorded 1979, but released 1980).

LINEUP #3 (1980)

Stinky Turner - vocals
Mick Geggus - guitar
Vince Riordan - bass
Nigel Woolf - drums

The other "classic" bootboy lineup. Recorded their second Peel Session in February 1980, and everything from The Greatest Cockney Rip Off to Greatest Hits Vol II (all 1980)

LINEUP #4 (1980-1991)

Stinky Turner - vocals
Mick Geggus - guitar
Vince Riordan - bass
Keith "Sticks" Warrington - drums

The classic "rock" period lineup, recorded everything from Greatest Hits Vol. 3 (Live & Loud!) (1981) to Lethal (1990), although in the middle of this period they recorded Quiet Storm (1984) as a trio without Riordan. Ian Campbell also helped out on bass between 84 and 85.

 

DISCOGRAPHY

Singles / Albums

Cockney Rejects - Flares 'N' Slippers Cockney Rejects - I'm Not A Fool Cockney Rejects - Bad Man! Cockney Rejects - Greatest Hits Volume 1 Cockney Rejects - The Greatest Cockney Rip Off
Flares 'N' Slippers
(7", 1979)
I'm Not A Fool
(7", 1979)
Bad Man (7", 1980)
Greatest Hits Volume 1 (LP, 1980)
The Greatest Cockney Rip Off
(7", 1980)
Cockney Rejects - I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles Cockney Rejects - We Can Do Anything Cockney Rejects - We Are The Firm 7" Cockney Rejects - Greatest Hits Vol II Cockney Rejects - Easy Life
I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles (7", 1980)
We Can Do Anything
(7", 1980)
We Are The Firm
(7", 1980)
Greatest Hits Vol II
(LP, 1980)
Easy Life (7", 1981)
Cockney Rejects - Greatest Hits Vol. 3 (Live & Loud!) Cockney Rejects - On The Streets Again Cockney Rejects - The Power And The Glory The Cockney Rejects - The Wild Ones The Cockney Rejects - Till The End Of The Day
Greatest Hits Vol. 3 (Live & Loud!)
(LP, 1981)
On The Streets Again (7", 1981)
The Power And The Glory (LP, 1981)
The Wild Ones
(LP, 1982)
Till The End Of The Day (7", 1982)
The Rejects - Quiet Storm Cockney Rejects - Back To The Start      
Quiet Storm
(LP, as The Rejects, 1984)
Back To The Start
(7", as The Rejects, 1984)
     

Extraneous Releases

Unheard Rejects Cockney Rejects - We Are The Firm LP Cockney Rejects - Live And Loud!! Cockney Rejects - Greatest Hits Vol. IV: Live In Spain The Best Of The Cockney Rejects
Unheard Rejects 1979-1981 (LP, 1985) We Are The Firm
(LP, 1986)
Live And Loud!!
(LP, 1987)
Greatest Hits Vol. IV: Live In Spain
(LP, 1987)
The Best Of The Cockney Rejects
(CD, 1993)
Cockney Rejects / Angelic Upstarts - Live And Loud!! The Cockney Rejects - The Wild Ones / Lethal Cockney Rejects - The Punk Singles Collection Cockney Rejects - Oi! Oi! Oi! Cockney Rejects - The Very Best Of The Cockney Rejects
Live And Loud!!
(CD, split with Angelic Upstarts, 1993)
The Wild Ones / Lethal (CD, twofer, 1994) The Punk Singles Collection (CD, 1997) Oi! Oi! Oi! (CD, 1997) The Very Best Of Cockney Rejects
(CD, 1999)
Cockney Rejects - The Greatest Cockney Rip Off CD Cockney Rejects - Flares 'N' Slipper And Unheard Rejects Cockney Rejects - Favorite Tunes Cockney Rejects - Join The Rejects The Zonophone Years '79 - '81 Cockney Rejects - East End Blitz & Pieces: Cockney Rejects Rarities 1980-2012
The Greatest Cockney Rip Off
(CD, 1999)
Flares 'N' Slipper And Unheard Rejects
(CD, 2001)
Favorite Tunes
(7", 2001)
Join The Rejects The Zonophone Years '79 - '81 (3xCD, 2011) East End Blitz & Pieces: Cockney Rejects Rarities 1980-2012 (CD, 2012)
Cockney Rejects - Hammer: The Classic Rock Years        
Hammer: The Classic Rock Years (CD, 2013)        

Bootlegs

Cockney Rejects - England (I Miss You Now)        
England (I Miss You Now) (7", 1991)        

Various Artists

Back-Stage Pass UK LP 1980 (Supermusic): Wanna Be A Star / Police Car

Oi! The Album UK LP 1980 (EMI): Oi! Oi! Oi! / Here We Go Again / Generation Of Scars

The Last Stiff Compilation Album... ...Until The Next One US LP 1980 (Stiff): Flares 'N' Slippers

Burning Ambitions (A History Of Punk) UK 2xLP 1982 (Cherry Red): Flares And Slippers

Oi! - The Resurrection UK LP 1986 (Link): I Wanna Be A Star

Oi! Chartbusters Volume 1 UK LP 1987 (Link): Police Car

Oi! Chartbusters Volume 2 UK LP 1987 (Link): Motorhead

Oi!.. The Picture Disc UK LP 1987 (Link): Police Car

Oi! Chartbusters Volume 4 UK LP 1988 (Link): Dead Generation

Oi! Chartbusters Volume 6 UK LP 1990 (Link): It Will Only Ever Be

Small Wonder: The Punk Singles Collection UK CD 1994 (Anagram): Flares And Slippers

Oi! The Singles Collection Vol 2 UK CD 1996 (Captain Oi!): Flares And Slippers / Police Car / I Wanna Be A Star

Small Wonder: The Punk Singles Collection Volume Two UK CD 1996 (Anagram): Police Car

Oi! The Singles Collection Vol 3 UK CD 1997 (Captain Oi!): I'm Not A Fool / East End

Zonophone Records: The Complete Punk Singles Collection UK CD 1997 (Anagram): Greatest Cockney Rip Off / I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles / We Can Do Anything / We Are The Firm / Easy Life / On The Streets Again

Links

COCKNEY REJECTS HOMEPAGE

EAST END BABYLON - Official site of the film

2010 INTERVIEW on the FLARES N SEAGULLS SITE

RISING FREE INTERVIEW

 

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