One Way System, Fleetwood, Lancashire, England, UK One Way System, Fleetwood, Lancashire, England, UK

Formed: Fleetwood, Lancashire, England, UK

Band Bio / Lineups / Discography

These guys from Fleetwood, near Blackpool exploded on the scene with the charming 'Stab The Judge' (on the No Entry EP) and proceeding to become one of the more listenable and most violent-sounding Oi!-type bands. Some - not all - of the stuff they recorded between 1981 and 1984 is excellent, and they were deservedly popular. Like soundalikes Blitz, their lineup was a mix of punks and skinheads. Singer Gav Whyte also had a penchant for tattoos, baring his chest and looking hard.

Tommy Couch, Burning Britain: The half punk/half skin thing was never intentional. I myself considered it all to be the same - punk, skin, goth, crusty, whatever...in terms of music, we were part of one big scene. That was then cut up by the media and offered to the masses to make of it what they would. The politics between these different segments only became evident when they travelled more and learnt that this was the real separating factor. Musically we were inspired by The Clash, The Damned, the UK Subs, the Ramones, Killing Joke, Ruts, The Exploited, GBH, Crass, the Test Tube Babies...the list is endless. I don't think anyone in the the Northwest inspired us...maybe Blitz, to an extent, but then again, we were rising up at the same time as these bands anyway.

One Way System formed in 1978 or 1979 (accounts differ), and by 1980 was a quartet comprising Whyte (vocals), Craig Halliday (guitar), Gaz Buckley (bass) and Tez McDonald (drums). (I should point out here that Gav's surname is usually spelled one of two ways - either Whyte or White - and I shall stick with the former here because it seems the more common of the two and was used on all their early records except the first single.) It wasn't until 1981 that they finally made it to a recording studio, the product of which was a four-song demo, duly posted to No Future records, who liked it and extracted the catchy 'Jerusalem' for release on the (Indie) hit compilation LP A Country Fit For Heroes. By the time of 1982's No Entry EP - which featured one of their best known songs, the memorable 'Stab The Judge', the lineup had been expanded to include a second guitarist, David Ross, from Poulton-Le-Fylde's Zyklon B. (This EP was reissued later in '82 with the EP title removed, thereby promoting 'Stab The Judge' to title track status.)

After this EP, McDonald left (he joined The Fits) and was replaced by Tom Couch, and OWS found themselves a manager, John Bentham, who had previously managed the Zanti Misfitz and was at the time also running a local video production company, Jettisoundz. Later in 1982 they signed to Anagram, where they remained until 1986. Two corking Indie chart-storming singles followed - Give Us A Future / Just Another Hero 7" (1982) and Jerusalem 7" (1983) - and the band began work on their debut LP, which Halliday never appeared on because he was booted out in the early recording stages.

One Way System, Fleetwood, Lancashire, England, UK One Way System, Fleetwood, Lancashire, England, UK One Way System, Fleetwood, Lancashire, England, UK

ABOVE: Images from the Punk Lives magazine, 1982-1983

One Way System, Fleetwood, Lancashire, England, UK 1983 saw the release of two albums, just eight months apart, the first of which was All Systems Go. Funnily enough, the All Systems Go LP was also released as a video courtesy of Jettisoundz, but if this review here from Punk Lives #8 is anything to go by, it's shite. (You can check it out yourself on the No Return / All Systems Go DVD.)

All Systems Go was a big success, as was another great single released soon after, a cover of Slade's Cum On Feel The Noize! which had some people concerned over their direction, with suggestions of a sell-out virtually confirmed by Whyte when asked by Punk Lives why they had released it:

Gav Whyte, Punk Lives, 1983: To try and get us noticed, to help us build up a bigger following. It's a good song to do, and there's a chance of it getting some airplay, a good chance of us getting over to a wider audience. With "Cum On Feel The Noize' everybody's heard it before, they can sing along to it and it won't frighten off the DJs.

Statements like that didn't really do the band's reputation much good, especially when cries of "sell out" were commonplace back then, although any worries that they might be going soft were (for me anyway) dispelled with November's Writing On The Wall LP, which was, if anything, harder and angrier than the debut, as highlighted by the single taken from it, This Is The Age, a firebomb of a 45. The LP was promoted by tours across Europe, including some violent ones in Germany with English Dogs.

Tommy Couch, Burning Britain: Hearing all the gunshots and seeing all the violence, having people pulling guns on the band, saying they wanted to shoot us for whatever cause or or other. They were bad gigs!

Spring 1984 Suicidal Tendencies / One Way Stsrem Flyer 1984year saw their final release for Anagram, the disappointing Visions Of Angels 7"/12" EP, which saw them going in a rock type direction, with not-very-interesting songs further hampered by an uncharacteristically weak production by Mike Stone.

Tommy Couch, Burning Britain: That EP is the only thing we did that I don't really like. The reason being, it was produced by Mike Stone of Clay Records, and we had no control over that particular recording process or production, None of our ideas for the record got used in the end, and the production was shite, even if I say so myself!

That October the band made it to the US with the intention of embarking on a West Coast tour with the Circle Jerks. Unfortunately, things did not go to plan: the tour was curtailed before anybody had even set foot on a stage when lead Jerk Keith Morris broke his neck. Determined to get something out of the trip, One Way System's sole official date on that trip was a gig at the Olympic Auditorium they arranged with Suicidal Tendencies, which they followed with a gig at an illegal warehouse party.

After this, the Systies staggered on for two more years with a new vocalist (Andy Gibson of The Genocides), and even attempted to record a third LP. Although the LP never materialised, three songs from this period were exhumed for 2019's retrospective box set 1981-84. During the final dog days of the band, despite John Bentham's contention in the liner notes to The Best Of... that the warehouse party gig in L.A. was their last ever show, according to Couch in Burning Britain they probably did step on a stage again, although Couch numbered these dates as "very few".

Whyte, Couch and Ross reformed the band in the mid-90s, with new bassist Andy Wilkinson, kicking off with a live release (Return In Breizh, 1997) and a new studio LP, Waiting For Zero, released in the American label GMM Records. This was recorded with a new singer, Lee Havoc.

DISCOGRAPHY

Subsequent studio albums: Waiting For Zero (1999), Car Bombs In Babylon (2019).

Singles / Albums

One Way System - No Entry One Way System - Give Us A Future / Just Another Hero One Way System - Jerusalem One Way System - All Systems Go One Way System - Cum On Feel The Noize!
No Entry
(7", 1982)
Give Us A Future / Just Another Hero
(7", 1982)
Jerusalem
(7", 1983)
All Systems Go
(LP, 1983)
Cum On Feel The Noize!
(7", 1983)
One Way System - This Is The Age One Way System - Writing On The Wall One Way System - Visions Of Angels    
This Is The Age
(7", 1983)
Writing On The Wall
(LP, 1983)
Visions Of Angels
(7"/12", 1984)
   

Extraneous Releases

One Way System - The Best Of... One Way System - Forgotten Generation (The Best Of) One Way System - Gutter Box One Way System - All Systems Go + Writing On The Wall One Way System - The Singles Collection
The Best Of...
(CD, 1995)
Forgotten Generation (The Best Of)
(CD, 1996)
Gutter Box
(3xLP, box set, 1997)
All Systems Go + Writing On The Wall
(CD, twofer, 1997)
The Singles Collection
(LP, 1998)
One Way System - Singles Collection One Way System - Punker Than Fuck - The Best Of One Way System One Way System - 1981-84    
Singles Collection
(CD, 2003)
Punker Than Fuck - The Best Of One Way System
(CD, 2004)
1981-84
(3xCD, box set, 2019)
   

DVDs

One Way System - No Return / All Systems Go
       
No Return / All Systems Go
(DVD, 2003)
       

 

Various Artists

A Country Fit For Heroes UK 12" 1982 (No Future): Jerusalem

Total Anarchy UK LP 1982 (Beat-The-System!!): Riot Torn City / Me And You

Punk And Disorderly - Further Charges UK LP 1982 (Anagram): Stab The Judge

Punk And Disorderly III - The Final Solution UK LP 1983 (Anagram): Jerusalem

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

Viva La Revolution UK 2xLP 1985 (Cambra Sound): This Is The Age

Maggie, Maggie, Maggie - Out! Out! Out! UK LP 1987 (Anagram): Give Us A Future

Oi! Chartbusters Volume 5 UK LP 1989 (Link): Stab The Judge

Oi! Chartbusters Volume 5 & 6 UK CD 1992 (Link): Stab The Judge

Anagram Records ยท The Punk Singles Collection UK CD 1994 (Anagram): Give Us A Future / Just Another Hero / Jerusalem / Cum On Feel The Noize / Breakin' In / This Is The Age / Children Of The Night

A Country Fit For Heroes - Volumes 1 & 2 UK CD 1994 (Captain Oi!): Jerusalem

Beat The System: The Punk Singles Collection UK CD 1995 (Anagram): Stab The Judge / Riot Torn City / Me And You

Oi! The Singles Collection Vol 1 UK CD 1995 (Captain Oi!): Give Us A Future / Just Another Hero

Oi! The Singles Collection Vol. 4 UK CD 1997 (Captain Oi!): Jerusalem / Jackie Was A Junkie

The Ugly Truth About Blackpool Volume One UK CD 2005 (JSNTGM): Jerusalem

Burning Britain - A Story Of Independent UK Punk 1980-1983 4xCD 2018 (Cherry Red): Jerusalem

Links

 

 

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

jane@punkygibbon.co.uk

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