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The Crack Magazine

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What Have We Got? (The turbulent story of Oi!) by Simon Spence

I was very much on the more, er, Redskins, Au-Pairs, Clash side of things and therefore thought that Oi! was the music of the enemy, an enemy who were stupid enough to think that young white working class men should only be interested in fucking, fighting and fascism. Admittedly, I was as young and stupid as those nobheads were, and as Simon Spence’s brilliant book proves things were a bit more nuanced than my tiny left-wing mind could be bothered with. Sure, there was a nasty strain of Nazi politics forever lurking in the shadows of Oi! and on various personal musical CVs, but what Spence does is delve much deeper than most, cuts the fascist chaff from the musical wheat to find the people and the music worth knowing about. Which must have been very difficult as there’s some very heavy dudes involved in Oi! - the kind of dudes who are suspicious of the motives of perceived outsiders. Spence, however, hunts down the important people, gets the stories that matter and has produced both a history of Oi! and a current overview of this (worldwide) genre, which seems to be in very rude and boisterous health. And let’s not forget that Oi! still packs a hell of a punch - the greatest door slamming music, bar none. Working class punk that asks questions of the kleptocratic ruling class, which currently has the planet in its fetid grip, is music always worth investigating and getting into and for that reason Simon Spence’s What Have We Got? is an absolute classic. One of my music books of the year.

What Have We Got? (The turbulent story of Oi!) – Simon Spence - publ. Omnibus Press - £20.00

Steven Long

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