Sham 69

The Complete Collection

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As reviled as they were celebrated, Jimmy Pursey and company were the original boot boys from London's notorious East End, the true Cockney kids, and the lot who inadvertently inspired the loads of Oi! and skinhead punk bands that followed. Everyone from the great leftist working-class bands like the Angelic Upstarts and Newtown Neurotics to Nazi punks Skrewdriver and the 4-Skins claimed Sham 69 as an influence. While the title here, Complete Collection, is somewhat misleading because it doesn't contain everything they recorded, it really is almost everything (and more) you'd ever want. The most notorious omission is the band's first single on the Step Forward label, "I Don't Wanna"/"Rip Off," though awesome live versions of those songs from 1979 are on disc three. Disc one does contain all the wild and unruly hits "Angels With Dirty Faces," "If the Kids Are United," "Borstal Breakout," "Hurry Up Harry," "Hersham Boys," "Unite and Win," "Tell the Children," "Cockney Kids Are Innocent," and ten others. Disc two focuses primarily on album tracks from the band's Polydor recordings and the last one on live material. It's true there are some reunion cuts here, which are not up to par with the best stuff by a long shot. But it hardly matters, since the early material is in such great quantity. The liner notes are rudimentary, but the sound is great and so is the price. This is the definitive Sham collection for those looking for something reasonably complete.

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