Sham 69

The Adventures of Hersham Boys

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On their first album, Sham 69 sounded like a gang of energetic punk rock simpletons, well-meaning and enthusiastic if not especially gifted, but things had taken a decided turn for the worst by the time they'd cut The Adventures of Hersham Boys in 1979. Where their early recordings took a lean, stripped-down approach, like a Cockney version of the Ramones, this album is dominated by sludgy tempos, pompous "anthemic" melodies, absurd neo-Rick Wakeman keyboard lines, and shouted mass choruses that suggest anyone willing to drink a free beer was allowed to bellow into the mike. And while Jimmy Pursey's lead vocals are a bit more expert this time out, his attempts towards a more musical sound simply betray the fact that he doesn't have much of a vocal range, which hardly helps on songs like "Fly Dark Angel", "Joey's on the Street," and "Lost on Highway 46," which combine the worst aspects of Meat Loaf and Bruce Springsteen with British punk at its most intellectually challenged. The Adventures of Hersham Boys was one of Sham 69's most successful albums and launched two major chart singles, "Hersham Boys" and "Questions and Answers," proving there's a British corollary to H.L. Menken's statement that no one will ever go broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

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