Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Bootboy Sounds

Treating a mild hangover with a few mimosas and some bootboy vinyl. Perfect Sunday afternoon...

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Getting Proper Gear In The Late 80s and 90s

These days it's possible to buy proper skinhead gear like DMs, braces, Fred Perrys and Ben Shermans with one-click ordering on Ebay or websites. You need never leave your house or encounter another skin.

In the late 80s and 90s things were a lot different. If you were lucky you lived in a big city like New York or London which featured small boutique-style shops that stocked the gear, sometimes in fairly rough parts of town. You could expect to pay import prices. People did buying trips to places like 99X (NY), Two Tone (NJ), Crash & Burn (Atlanta) and The Merc (London) and stocked up.

All of these spots also had mailorder catalogues, as did mailorder-exclusive sellers like Sluggo. Timing was important as it was always an issue of things being in stock. If you were wise you ordered over the phone with a credit card. Using snail mail and a check or money order meant your gear could take ages to arrive.

It was a struggle to stay properly dressed but this was part of the underground appeal- it's inaccessibility. Dedication was an important part of the skinhead lifestyle!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

My Favorite Videos On Original Skinhead Culture

By Deejay Hagler

Back in the old VHS days there were really only three films on this list that you could find a copy of (that would be THE HARDER THEY COME, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and WORLD OF SKINHEAD). With the advent of DVDs and now streaming video the rest of the films on the list have become more widely available.

Without further adieu...

1- REGGAE '70 (1971) Directed by British-Trinidadian filmmaker Horace Ove.
It took me years to track down a copy of this film. I finally found a bootleg DVD at a reggae shop. It was well worth the wait.
For a lot of skinheads the thing they love most about the culture is the original soundtrack: 60s/ early 70s Jamaican music. That's what this documentary is all about.

It centers around the 1970 Caribbean Music Festival held at Wembley which was attended by 14,000 people. Featured performers were THE PYRAMIDS, THE PIONEERS, DESMOND DEKKER, THE MAYTALS, BOB & MARCIA, JOHN HOLT, MILLIE SMALL and others. There are many interviews, including with disc jockey Mike Raven and producer Graham Goodall on the history and development of reggae music.

The best part of the film is the feature on skinheads and their love of reggae music. About how white working class kids could find the music of a suffering Jamaican population and make it their own. There is tons of footage of inter-racial dancehalls in the UK, with Black and white skinheads co-mingling. Doubtful you'd find any other segment of British society quite as integrated at that time!

2- BRONCO BULLFROG (1969) This is a film that was widely talked about in the skinhead community (there is even a song 'Bronco Bullfrog' on the 1989 LP from THE BLAGGERS, 'On Your Toez'). Thing is, no one I knew had ever seen it. Finally in 2004 I wrote to the director himself (Barney Platts-Mills) and bought a copy on DVD!

The film is in black and white, and very minimalist. It follows a group of teenage skinheads and suedeheads in East London, centering on a guy named Del. He starts a relationship with a girl named Irene, and the two spend a good deal of the film trying to find a place to get busy. There is also a subplot with Del's friend  Jo (known by the nickname 'Bronco Bullfrog' for reasons unknown) getting released from youth prison. He's planning a big caper and wants Del involved.

On Wikipedia it said the characters were trying to escape their dead end lives, and that's pretty accurate. As a film it has minimal plot and it doesn't feel like the dialogue was particularly well-scripted. Honestly, the film is boring. But if you're into original 60s skinhead culture there's a lot to appreciate. It gives a very first hand account of what the East End looked like when the first skinheads emerged and the way they fit in with their environment. Probably not a film you will give repeated viewings to.

3- THE HARDER THEY COME (1972) The original skinhead style was a mixture of British white working class youth culture (specifically Mod) and Jamaican 'rudeboy' culture. Who were the rude boys? This film is the story of a typical rudeboy in Jamaica at the time, portrayed by reggae artist Jimmy Cliff.

The film and soundtrack became famous, and for many people were the first introduction to classic Jamaican reggae and rocksteady. Although the film was released in 1972, the tracks are a few years older (1967-1972) and feature many songs by skinhead favorites like JIMMY CLIFF, DESMOND DEKKER, THE MAYTALS, THE MELODIANS and others.

THE HARDER THEY COME is an incredible film on many levels. Aesthetically, it really captures both the beauty and poverty of Jamaica. The music throughout the film is exceptional. The story is exciting. And you can definitely see how the rudeboy style influenced the early skinhead style.

4- A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971) Directed by Stanley Kubrick.
It's completely obvious that Stanley Kubrick's film features an approximation of the skinhead gangs that were terrorizing Britain at that time, down to their boots and braces. He added a futuristic aesthetic that pre-supposed a move to glam style and 70s boot boys.

Of course, one can't condone all the behavior of Alex and his droogs in this film. But there is a deeper point to it all, a true work of art that requires analysis on many levels.

Anyway, I've met very few skinheads that didn't see this as a central film.

5- BBC'S MAN ALIVE programme 'What's The Truth About Hell's Angels And Skinheads?' (1969) 45min.

The first person to recommend this video to me was Roddy Moreno in 2005. He said it was the most well-known video at the time of the original skins. Clips of it were used in the 1996 BBC documentary 'WORLD OF SKINHEAD'

2/3 of the program covers greasy bikers dubbed 'Hell's Angels' by the British media, though not then affiliated with the American outlaw bikers. They merely copied the style. You can fast-forward this part, unless you like looking at people who are dirty, horrible and into Nazi memorabilia.

The skinhead portion starts with footage of Chelsea skinheads away at Newcastle United. Then there's an interview with 4 skinheads on what the style is all about. There is a bunch of unfortunate racist vitriol during this segment about 'Paki bashing'. The paradox is that in the next sentence they talk about how they like and intermingle with West Indians, who 'don't like Pakis either.' There's no glossing over the fact that SOME skinheads back in the 60s did engage in 'Paki bashing', but it's also true that these were attitudes that were often condoned by their larger area and society. These skinheads were products of their environment.

Finally the film centers on a 16 year old named Steve Thompson that works as a printer's assistant and lives at home. He is interviewed with his parents. This is the gold. Steve seems an articulate guy, not really a villain. His dad, who was himself a Teddy boy, has a good sense of where Steve's style fit in with his life path. He understands the media's exageration of certain elements, and that much of the talk and style is youthful bravado.
Incidentally, pretty sure Steve Thompson is featured on the cover of Trojan Records 'Skinhead Revolt' CD from 1993, and the cover of Martin King's 'A Boy's Life' book from 2000.

6- ALL DRESSED UP & GOING NOWHERE (1971) Prior to 3 years ago I didn't even know this documentary existed! That's the magic of modern technology and YouTube. Little joys.
This 30 min. documentary covers a gang called the SCOTSWOOD AGGRO BOYS in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, who are involved in conflicts with the grease they call the THROCKLEY HAIRIES, as well as other mobs. Both sides are interviewed, there's interviews with the police and even an appearance with renowned academic Stanley Cohen, author of the book 'FOLK DEVILS & MORAL PANICS', about the media's treatment of the original mods and rockers.
The skinheads in this film (mostly older teenagers) show real style, and come across hard as nails. The footage is excellent all round, and there's even use of music by THE WHO! Ah, the wonderful days before copyright became a big issue.

There is even an 8-min 2013 follow up to this 1971 documentary called 'All Dressed Up & Going Nowhere- Follow Up' that talks with a number of the SCOTSWOOD AGGRO BOYS, now in their 50s with grown children and grand kids. They discuss their love of the smart style ('dapper as a brush)', football aggro and their love of Jamaican reggae (including their anthem Harry J All-Stars 'Liquidator'). Top lads.

7- WORLD OF SKINHEAD (Channel 4 UK; 1996)
Directed by Doug Aubrey. George Marshall from the zine SKINHEAD TIMES was also involved with this, and there is overlap with the ST Publishing book 'Skinhead Nation'.
It's a snapshot of the skinhead scene in various places in the mid 90s: throughout the UK, in NYC, Chicago, Germany. There's some stuff on boneheads (Paul Burnley of NO REMORSE advertises his dental work) and there's some stuff on SHARP (Roddy Moreno). Clips of 60s skinheads. Interviews with lots of skinheads about what it means to be skins. Concert footage.

I've always had reservations about this documentary, despite the fact that it features large numbers of my friends and compatriots. It's a must-see, though not without it's flaws. But that's the topic for another article.

8- THE STORY OF REGGAE (BBC) Episode 1 'Forward March'
This is a quality 3-part series on the history of reggae music, produced by the BBC.
The first episode begins in Jamaica and discusses independence, sound systems, the influence of New Orleans R&B music, the birth of ska, rocksteady, rude boys and reggae.

The final 10 minutes of the first episode is about how Jamaican music arrived in Britain. In this segment there is discussion of the original skinheads as the first white fanatics of reggae music. Both UB40 and Paul Simonon of THE CLASH discuss being skinheads in the days of their youth, and their love of reggae music. The best part of the episode is where singer Max Romeo talks about traveling to Guildford and having a confrontation with a racist white guy that spit in his face, and how skinheads PROTECTED him all throughout the tour. Probably not likely to see that side of true skinheads portrayed in a sensationalist media.

9- REGGAE BRITANNIA (BBC; 2011) 90 minutes
This documentary is excellent, and starts with a shot! Desmond Dekker's 'Israelites' shooting up the charts in 1969 and breaking through. Dave and Ansel Collins. Interviews with Paul Weller on being a suedehead and skinhead reggae hits. Paul Simonon from the CLASH. Prince Buster. Max Romeo. An interview with Pauline Black from THE SELECTER. All this within the first 8 minutes!

The documentary itself is 90 minutes and completely worth watching all the way through. But you have to appreciate a film that establishes so early and with such authority the importance of the skinhead reggae era in the international popularity of Jamaican reggae.

This is my top 9 videos on original skinhead culture. I have a larger collection of clips and other related films I love, and will do a future article on them. And I have a good amount of suggestions after the late 60s/ early 70s which I will examine. Till then, happy viewing!

Saturday, April 2, 2016


Scanned from a book from my collection.

Beating ass and looking good doing it...a way of life...