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The A Files

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Album Review

Sham 69's first studio album of the '90s (after their career tailored off in the '80s), The A-Files is a thoroughly enjoyable thud on the head, though none of the songs appear to make any sense at all (maybe if you hung out with these guys, you might get some of the jokes or references). But in its own silly way, it's a more mature work. "Tag" is a cool atmospheric dub-reggae instrumental, while "I'm Mad" is about the mad cow disease and may include some commentary on vegetarianism, though maybe it doesn't. However, the nonsensical lyrics are interesting, and Jimmy Pursey sings them with one of the greatest, most carefully enunciated punk voices of all time. Occasionally, three-fourths of the way through a song, the guitarist comes up with some very memorable hooks, but the production is too slick for a punk record. Though it's jumbled and baffling, this is a very sophisticated work for a gang of boot boys from Hersham.


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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