The 4 Skins

The 4-Skins - sKINS! The 4-Skins live

Formed: London, England, UK

Band Bio / Discography / Lineups

Skinheads from London whose music was as subtle as their name, The 4-Skins were a great Oi! band which, despite being vocally anti-racist, suffered from being labeled as such anyway, especially after an incident in Southall, London in 1981, when fans of theirs were involved in a race riot during a triple-bill of Oi! bands in a local pub. Up to this point they were rising stars, and after it they became pariahs, loathed by the music press (Sounds excepted of course!) and feared by promoters, who anticipated violence.

Like Black Flag they were unable to hang onto their singers for very long: original vocalist Gary Hodges was their harshest and most aggressive, but he departed after the Southall incident with just the impressively belligerent, largely tuneless and utterly superb debut single One Law For Them 7" and five tracks from compilation albums in his portfolio.

He was replaced by their roadie Panther in time for their recording tenure with Secret, and Roi Pearce from The Last Resort came in to see the band petering out on their very flawed second album. As with Black Flag, fans have their own favourite singers. Most agree, however, that Hodges was the man,

They made their vinyl debut on October 1980s Oi! The Album compilation, with Mick Geggus of the Cockney Rejects playing lead guitar, and followed this up with two more cuts on Strength Thru Oi! in May 1981. The classic, hilariously moronic and insanely catchy 'Evil' appeared on October's Carry On Oi!.

Gary Hodges of the 4 SkinsGary Hodges of the 4 SkinsNME - Southall 1981

ABOVE L-R: Gary Hodges live; Gary on the cover of Sounds, and an examination of the Southall riot from NME

The 'One Law For Them' single was recorded the day after the Southall riot. These recordings with Hodges (seven songs in total) are amongst the most brutal and intense Oi! had to offer: very fast (unlike a lot of Oi! which tended to be sluggish) and extremely ugly, with uproariously (hopefully deliberately) idiotic lyrics.

After the Southall incident, a revamped lineup signed with Secret and recorded a track for yet another compilation, the Bollocks To Christmas EP, and a second single, Yesterday's Heroes, which earned them a second Top Ten indie chart placing. The song - their most melodic so far - was re-recorded for their debut LP, The Good, The Bad & The 4-Skins, which was split into a live side and a studio side in an apparent tribute to Sham 69's debut. (Or as some say because they weren't able to obtain the rights to record their own earlier material.) It stands as one of the best Oi! albums, although it is still a few rungs below Cock Sparrer or (latter day) The Business. Former drummer Gary Hitchcock (now their manager) took lead vocals on one song, probably their best moment, an all-out-ska assault called 'Plastic Gangsters'. Ending with a quick snippet of 'I Could Be So Good For You' (the theme from Minder), this primo track recalls the early days of Madness and suggests that, believe it or not, they might have made a top-notch ska band.

The 4-Skins - Yesterday's HeroesThe 4-Skins - A Fistful Of 4-Skins Advert

In late 1982 they released the Low Life single, an attack on glue-sniffing culture which failed to do much business in the Indies. Secret went into liquidation and the band started to unravel and no new recordings came out for nearly a year, by which time Hoxton was a 1-Skin and he had recruited another 3, including the gruff-sounding Roi Pearce, a terrible singer even by Oi! standards, but a passionate one. A Fistful Of 4-Skins came out in late 1983, carrying on the spaghetti western theme and coming in a lovely picture sleeve with an American soldier carrying a severed head in each hand. The LP did not repeat the success of the debut, but it boasted at least one songs which was a lyrical masterpiece.

One more studio track (the rubbishy 'On The Streets') appeared on November 1983's Son Of Oi! and the band bowed out with their last official offering, the missable "From Chaos To 1984" The 4 Skins Live (1984).

4 Skins 1983 Lineup4 Skins 1983 Lineup4 Skins 1983 Lineup

ABOVE: Article from Punk Lives magazine, 1983

Gary Hodges and Steve Harmer joined up with two Cockney Rejects (Mick Geggus and Andy Russell) for a reactivated 4-Skins, recorded several tracks for their homepage and appeared on the Kings Of Street Punk compilation. A revised lineup with Hodges joined by Big Tom McCourt and two lesser mortals have soldiered on since, releasing the following CDs: East Coast Oi! Fest 2008 Presents... (2008) and The Return (2010).

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DISCOGRAPHY

Subsequent studio albums: The Return (2010).

Singles & Albums / Extraneous Releases / Promos / Bootlegs / Various Artists

The 4-Skins - One LawOne Law For Them (7", 1981)

The 4-Skins - Yesterday's HeroesYesterday's Heroes (7", 1982)

The 4-Skins - The Good, The Bad & The 4-SkinsThe Good, The Bad & The 4-Skins (LP, 1982)

The 4-Skins - Low Life 7"Low Life (7", 1982)

The 4-Skins - A Fistful Of 4-SkinsA Fistful Of 4-Skins (LP, 1983)

The 4-Skins - "From Chaos To 1984" The 4 Skins Live"From Chaos To 1984" The 4 Skins Live (LP, 1984)

Extraneous Releases

The 4-Skins - The Wonderful World Of The 4-SkinsThe Wonderful World Of The 4-Skins (LP, 1987)

The 4-Skins - A Few 4 SkinsA Few 4 Skins More Volume 1 (2xLP, 1987)

The 4-Skins - A Few 4 Skins More Volume 2A Few 4 Skins More Volume 2 (LP, 1987)

The 4-Skins - Live And Loud!!Live And Loud!! (The Bridge House Tapes) (LP, 1989)

The 4-Skins - Best OfThe Best Of The 4-Skins (CD, 1992)

The 4-Skins - From Chaos To 1984 / RaritiesFrom Chaos To 1984 / Rarities (CD, twofer, 1993)

The 4-Skins - Live And Loud!!Live And Loud!! (CD, split with Infa Riot, 1993)

The 4-Skins - SINGALONG_A-4-SKINSSingalong-A-4-Skins (CD, 1998)

The 4-Skins - Singles And RaritiesSingles & Rarities (CD, 1999)

The 4-Skins - Clockwork SkinheadClockwork Skinhead (CD, 1999)

The 4-Skins - Low Life LPLow Life (LP, 2000)

The 4-Skins - One Law For ThemOne Law For Them (CD, 2000)

The 4-Skins - The Secret Life Of The 4-SkinsThe Secret Life Of The 4-Skins (CD, 2001)

The 4-Skins - History Of...History Of.... (2xCD, 2004)

The 4 Skins ‎– The Original Singles Box SetThe Original Singles Box Set (4x7", box set, 2017)

The 4-Skins - The AlbumsThe Albums (4xCD, box set, 2018)

The 4 Skins - Unreleased Radio & Studio SessionsUnreleased Radio & Studio Sessions (LP, 2019)

Promos

The Plastic Gangsters - Plastic GangsterPlastic Gangsters (7", as The Plastic Gangsters, 1982)

Bootlegs

The 4-Skins - The 4-Skins - Seems To MeSeems To Me (7", 2003)

Various Artists

Oi! The Album UK LP 1980 (EMI): Wonderful World / Chaos

Strength Thru Oi! UK LP 1981 (Decca): 1984 / Sorry

Carry On Oi! UK LP 1981 (Secret): Evil

Bollocks To Christmas UK 7" 1981 (Secret): Merry Christmas Everybody

Wave News 2 - Independent Smash Hits Germany LP 1982 (Intercord): Yesterday's Heroes

The Secret Life Of Punks UK LP 1982 (Secret): One Law For Them / Yesterday's Heroes

Son Of Oi! UK LP 1983 (Syndicate): On The Streets

The Sound Of Oi! UK LP 1986 (Link): Norman

Oi! - The Resurrection UK LP 1986 (Link): Yesterday's Heroes

Oi! The Picture Disc UK LP 1987 (Link): One Law For Them

Oi! Chartbusters Volume 1 UK LP 1987 (Link): Clockwork Skinhead

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

Oi!.. The Picture Disc UK LP 1987 (Link): One Law For Them

Oi! Chartbusters Volume 5 UK LP 1989 (Link): Summer Holiday (Live)

The Kids Are United UK LP 1980s (Music For Nations): Wonderful World

The Joys Of Oi! UK LP 1990 (Link): Betrayed

The Oddities Of Oi! UK LP 1991 (Link): Saturday

Oi! It's A World League! Italy LP+7" 1992 (Havin' A Laugh): A.C.A.B.

The Oddities Of Oi / The Joys Of Oi! UK CD 1993 (Step-1 Music): Saturday / Betrayed

Secret Records: The Punk Singles Collection UK CD 1993 (Anagram): One Law For Them / Yesterday's Heroes / Low Life / Seems To Me

Secret Records: The Punk Singles Collection Volume 2 UK CD 1995 (Anagram): Brave New World / Justice / Bread Or Blood

Oi! The Singles Collection Vol 1 UK CD 1995 (Captain Oi!): One Law For Them / Brave New World

Trouble On The Terraces UK LP 1996 (Step-1 Music): Saturday / A.C.A.B.

Heroes And Villains UK LP 1996 (Step-1 Music): Norman / Plastic Gangster

The Best Of Oi! UK LP+7"/CD 1997 (The Harry May Record Company): One Law For Them / Yesterday's Heroes

Oi! The Singles Collection Vol 3 UK CD 1997 (Captain Oi!): Yesterday's Heroes / Justice / Get Out Of My Life

Lords Of Oi! UK 3xCD Box Set 1997 (Dressed To Kill): Clockwork Skinhead / Plastic Gangster / Summer Holiday (Live)

Oi! This Is England UK 3xCD Box Set 1999 (Dressed To Kill): Clockwork Skinhead / Plastic Gangster / Summer Holiday (Live)

Secret Records (The Best And The Rest) Italy LP 1990s (Get Back): One Law For Them / Yesterday's Heroes / Justice / Get Out Of My Life / Norman

Kings Of Street Punk UK CD 2007 (G&R): Glory Days / Chaos 2007

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Links

The 4-Skins Fansite

 

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

jane@punkygibbon.co.uk

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