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If the Kids Are United: The Best Of

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Album Review

Sham 69 really did draw the short stick when the fates were handing out punk honors. Armed with one of the most charismatic frontmen of the era, fueled by some of the most phenomenal 45s of the age, and packing the most relentless energy you could hope to hear, Sham 69 also boasted one of the most partisan audiences around — and that's "partisan" in the sense of insurgent warriors. Every show was a battlefield, every interview a war cry; even Sham didn't understand the Sham Army, and the band eventually self-destructed beneath the weight of trying to explain how their messages of peace and tolerance were so warped by the powers of the political far right. But although great swaths of their fan club may have been loathsome slugs, they sure bought the records in vast quantities, from the fist-waving, boot-stomping "If the Kids Are United" on through "Hersham Boys," "Borstal Breakout," "Hurry Up Harry," and even a few misguided singles at the end. Sham 69 weren't simply one of the most exciting bands on the punk scene, they were also among the most successful, chalking up hit singles like other bands broke guitar strings. And this magnificent collection has all the ones you need to hear, plus a special video bonus — seven minutes of (admittedly latter-day) Sham in concert, pounding through a reprise of the opening "Action Time Vision."


Formed: 1976 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

While most of the early British punk bands spoke of working-class concerns -- primarily unemployment and the shrinking U.K. economy, which was leaving a generation with nothing to do and nowhere to go -- many of the pioneering groups had working-class credentials that were suspect at best; the Sex Pistols' career was being molded by a haberdasher and would-be artist, while the Clash were led by the son of a diplomat. Sham 69, however, was different; proletarian and proud of it, Sham 69 was the voice...
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If the Kids Are United: The Best Of, Sham 69
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