YELL! By skinheads, for skinheads

Spotted: Young boys donned in Ben Shermans, Levi’s, braces and not forgetting the infamous boots. Saturday night dancing, laughing and chatting up the birds – happy.

This is an extract from an article called “Thanks for Nothing – Bother Boots” which came in the International Times Issue 65, dated September 26 – October 9, 1969. We can already guess what/who they are talking about (yes, right, skinheads); however, the article does not even mention that word. The term they use is mainly ‘crop-head’.

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I wouldn’t say the article is not interesting, but being IT an ‘underground’ newspaper, I would have expected less clichés. It’s quite long so I won’t be sharing it but I’ll give you the links so you can have a read. Pics are great, though, the cover of the issue and the photos in the article.

Cover of Issue 65

Cover of Issue 65 – Jan and John

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Check the International Times Archive – Issue 65

Next issues, 66 and 67, do not have any content that may fit this blog so I’ll skip them. But issue 68 is the beginning of something very nice: “Yell“.

Yell was a section made by skinheads and for skinheads. As I have already said, it started in issue 68 dated November 21 – December 4, 1969. In it, skinheads talked about the topics they were interested in, clothes and music (they only shared Reggae but the reviewer was also a big Soul fan). The members of the Yell Staff were: Sue Collins, Paul Thompson, Ray Blake, Simon Walsh, Davey, Frances Wake, Barry Blake, Dave Wilkins and Steve Maxted (who wasn’t a skinhead but a DJ).

  • Issue 68 (November 21 – December 4, 1969)

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This number begins with an editorial by Paul Thompson:

“People call us ‘skinheads’, we don’t call ourselves anything. This is our page and we can do what we like with it, and that’s what we’re going to do. Maybe later we can start that magazine everyone’s been going on about. What do you think? Do you want one or do you think it’s a waste of time?

What this page is for is to help us and the trogs to get to know each other better. I think this is a good thing because we might be surprised and find we think the same way on a lot of things. Maybe we’ll find out whether it’s really them or the bosses/police/anyone else we should be fighting. Who knows?

Whatever you may think about long haired people, it’s bloody obvious that WE have had too much bad treatment in the past couple of years. Especially since the press got onto us. […]”

Wise words, Paul. Love it.

It also contains Reggae News and Reviews by Steve Maxted, a little article on  boots confiscated by the police and another one on what people thought about youth subcultures such as skinheads or greasers. I will summarise the music section but you can read the full articles on the link below.

Regarding the music section, Steve was a DJ and a huge Reggae enthusiast. He really knew his stuff and collected records. In this issue he wrote reviews of Symparip – Skinhead Moonstomp, Desmond Dekker – Pickney Gal, Dynamites – Mr. Midnight, Laurel Aitken – Rise and Fall, The Pioneers – Alli Button.

Check the International Times Archive – Issue 68

  • Issue 69 (December 5-17, 1969)

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This time Dave Tibbey wrote the editorial:

“RIGHT. As from now on I refuse to let anyone call me a skinhead, or a pricklehead, or anything like that.

On Thursday the 20th November, 10.000 people marched through London in support of more pay for teachers. The Evening Standard said the marchers included ‘teachers, student teachers, and even a few skinheads (oh f*ck, that word again!). Well, I counted four of us altogether. […]”

The number contains the regular Reggae section with reviews of The Pioneers – Poor Rameses, The Melodians – Sweet Sensation, The Pyramids – Chicken Mary, Stranger Cole – Pretty Cottage, among others. A report from Manchester on a problem with The Twisted Wheel and a letter from a hippy are also included.

Check the International Times Archive – Issue 69

  • Issue 70 (December 18-31, 1969)

I don’t know what happened to Dave, the guy who wrote the editorial of the previous issue, but he doesn’t appear in the credits anymore. I reckon he was a bit angry but there is always a grumpy one, so who knows! This one goes a bit like this:

“Well, it has started. We’ve started getting letters complaining about this page. I think that we expected this to happen.

The country seems to be full of people who think like this: ‘A bloke with cropped hair hit me once, therefore all blokes with cropped hair are thick and violent’. How stupid and illogial can you get?”

I recommend reading this editorial, it’s very interesting and with a lot of details of how they felt. Not all skinheads were violent, very, very true.

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The Reggae News cover a concert Steve went to, he particularly enjoyed The Marvels. It also includes reviews of 7″s such as The Upsetters – A Live Injection, The Hippy Boys – Reggae Pressure (he call that distinctive riddim ‘Steady-Reggae’), The Rulers – Situation, etc.

This issue contains a letter of someone complaining for being beaten up by skinhead and a skinhead girl who enjoys a decent punch-up. Well, what can I say.

Check the International Times Archive – Issue 70

  • Issue 71 (January 14-28, 1970)

So we’re already in the 70’s. The editorial is a mix of a complaint about record shops and the people in power, encouraging other skinheads to fight them. By this time, the guys from IT already want the Yell crew out of the newspaper.

Weak number. Apart from those things mentioned above, it includes the regular Reggae section by Steve wishing a Reggae New Year to one and all. Steve had been to a Desmond Dekker concert who seemed to have improved a lot, one his favourite artists. There are also reviews of Tommy McCook – Black Coffee, Derrick Morgan – Moon Hop (this is interesting because he says whites tend to prefer Skinhead Moonstomp but West Indians Derrick’s one as he makes no allusion to skinheads), Ansel Collins – Night of love (which he found a bit disappointing because he was expecting dirty words or so, you know, the title lol), etc. “My New Year’s Resolutions are: To go to bed early (depending on who it is with) and to get up ealier; plus a couple of private ones. I’m just off to get drunk so see you soon”. Seriously, can’t stop laughing!

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Check the International Times Archive – Issue 71

  • Issue 72 (January 28 – February 11, 1970)

“Drug Squad Probe Sex in Skinhead Violence

Now that we have your attention, we can safely tell you that you’re reading the YELL page again”

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This is how the editioral of this issue, written by Paul, starts. Once again, the guys seemed to have received quite a few letters of haters complaining but they do not give a f*ck, the way it should be. People not happy with Reggae call it sh*t music, but the guys from Yell know they are doing a nice work:We at Yell pride ourselves that our music section is just about unique in British newspapers. This is OUR kind of music and at least we have a column that tells us about it WELL!!!. I just love it!

This is a great issue, probably my favourite one, quite polemic and defending OUR music. They even received a little piece titled “It makes us sick” by ‘Ban Commercial Reggae’ League, lol. They were disgusted with the cheap commercial imitations of Reggae and they wanted to prevent Reggae being ruined and made into rubbish by money-grabbing capitalists!

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The Reggae section by Steve included reviews of Joe Gibbs & The Destroyers – Nevada Joe, which he thinks is a must; also Lee Perry & The Upsetters – Yakety Yak (he describes the singing as diabolical, out of time and yeuk, lol a matter of taste I suppose!), The Maytals – Pressure Drop, etc.

Check the International Times Archive – Issue 72

  • Issue 73 (February 12-25, 1970)

“It’s Clobberin’ Time!” – That’s the title for this issue. The Yell crew knew that their page was about to disappear, there were lots of misunderstandings, letters, etc…, they didn’t expect to be around for long… SAD!  The editorial is very interesting once again, I particularly like this piece:

“Things are getting funny when you get a group ‘Slade’, the once hairy group who cut their hair short in a pathetic attempt to become ‘skinheads (Eh?). I think it’s all part of a plot to lead young people up the garden path”

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The Reggae News section by Steve includes reviews of The Upsetters – The Vampire, Boris Gardiner and The Love People – Memories of Love, Harry J. All Stars – Lavender Blue but he didn’t know who the singer was back then unfortunately (Hey, Steve, it’s Lloyd Robinson!), The Pioneers – Samfie Man, Hot Rod All Stars – Lick a Pop, etc.

Check the International Times Archive – Issue 73

  • Issue 74 (February 27 – March 13, 1970)

What no Yell Page!

IT announced a shake-up. The Yell page (only half-page in this issue!) was not going to exist anymore, only the Reggae reviews by Steve Maxted but in another column. Having a look at my newspaper, the column changed its name, it was now called ‘Soul & Reggae’, to include his ‘even greater love, SOUL‘. His reviews include The Olympics – I’ll do a little bit more,  The Forum – The river is wide, etc; and on the Reggae side, Delano Stewart – Got to come back, Lloyd Terrel, Birth Control, Ansel Collins – Cotton Dandy, etc.

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“Goodbye from YELL page:  Hello from the New IT which hopes to bring us all together. I repeat – HOPES…….”

Check the International Times Archive – Issue 74

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And that’s the story of Yell, a great page! All I can say is that there will always be someone who doesn’t like or who doesn’t agree with what you do, but who cares? You keep doing what you like doing! Hope you liked the post!

And as always in parting, a nice little tune… One the 7″s in Steve’s reviews:

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Reggae meets Skinhead Style

Hi, everybody!

Reggae meets Skinhead Style today on The Ballroom Blitz. Many songs talk about skinheads and smooths and even have those words in their titles but today I would like to focus on the ones that mention something about the style: hair, clothes, footwear, etc.

To start this post, one of the most, let’s say, ‘skinhead-friendly’ groups without any doubt: Symarip. They recorded many tunes dedicated to them and even a LP:

1. Symarip – Skinhead Jamboree

Roy Ellis singing about the basic kit: Ben sherman, Levi’s, Dr. Martens, braces and cropped hair.

“First, you got your boots ready? Dr, Martens boots? Buy yourself some boots. You got your jeans ready? You got your jeans ready? Levi jeans? Oh I’m sorry you can’t come in, your hair is too long, you gotta get a haircut, the rest of you is OK. Now, special shirt Ben Sherman. […] By the way, you ain’t wearing no braces, go get your braces”

2. Symarip – Skinhead Moonstomp

Almost like an anthem, in this song Roy Ellis (the man with the biggest boots) says that they have to be sure that everything is spick-and-span. They are going to the moon so they have to shine their boots and brush their teeth, you know, the man on the moon looks different from man on the Earth.

“Put your braces together and your boots on your feet”

3. Symarip – Skinhead Girl

And they couldn’t forget the pretty side of things ;) Although the girl Roy describes is his height, weight and size lol.

“Her hair cut short, boots set firm. […] She wore braces and blue jeans”

4. Hot Rod All Stars – Moonhop in London

Skinhead, beware, beware! In this song they talk about the issues that may exist between the black and white communities but they also say that Reggae has brought unity between them.

“Skinhead a wear braces and big boots”

5. The Pioneers – Reggae fever

Skinheads caught the eye of the press and The Pioneers sing that every time you read the Mirror, there is always a piece of news about them (usually in a negative way, of course).

“Skinhead braces and big boots is the talk of this town. […] You can know a skinhead by the way he skins his head”

6. The Piglets – Johnny Reggae

Later than the other tunes, here we are already in the smooth era: longer hair, fringe and buckle shoes, two tone tonic fabrics, etc.

“He’s grown his hair a bit but it’s smooth, not too long. […] In his fringe and buckle stompers and his two-tone tonic strides”

So, we have 6 songs talking about the skinhead style. What other tunes do you know regading this topic? Feel free to comment!

And as always in parting, I would upload a little tune but I think we already have too many, so it’s better to upload a little pic:

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Barons Court – 1969

Outside: London Tom and Jerry

Hello, everyone! Time for a new post.

The article I am going to share today is full of topics/clichés we usually try to avoid these days. Mind you, we certainly can’t be proud of them and we have more interesting things to do for sure. However, I still find it interesting to be shared as it is a bit of history of our cult. This feature is dated October 1970 and I would like to thank Phil and Belinda for sharing.

Before moving on to the article, don’t forget that you can Suscribe to The Ballroom Blitz to receive all the updates of the Blog by email. You have this option on the column to the right.

Outside: London Tom and Jerry

Q: What do skinheads cross the Channel on?
A: A bovver-craft
Q: What do you call a skinhead who goes to the moon?
A: An aggro-naut

Skinhead jokes. Aggro means to dish out aggravation. Bovver is to bother people. Kick ’em. Bash it up. Smash. Skinhead words. Plus a new one: girls don’t like boys with real short hair, so skinheads are growing theirs to just over the ears. Suedeheads.

Stanley is a suedehead: “There are three types of youths, see. You got hippies, right, who turn on and all that. That’s the way they pass their time. You’ve got Hell’s Angels who muck about with their motorbikes. And you got others who got nothing to do. They don’t turn on and they don’t have motorbikes, so what do they do? They think, sh*t, we’ll go have a laugh and they bash people and smash things up. It’s boredom, really, nothing else to do.”

I vaguely remember a fourth: “Aren’t there any kids who just go to school, do their homework, and don’t get into trouble?”

“I don’t know any.” Stanley works with Rudy, a young friend of mine, in a photographer’s studio. Rudy keeps his hair out of his eyes with a bright Indian headband, and it reaches his wings in back. It’s a small studio and the only people working there, besides the receptionist, are Rudy, Stanley, and the photographer. The photographer gave Rudy a telescopic lens, and he just gave Stanley an old Nikon. Rudy and Stanley spend many hours together in the darkroom, learning what they both dig.

If Stanley was hanging out with some friends of his on the corner and Rudy walked by, somebody would probably suggest: “Let’s bash that hippie.” For anybody but him, Stanley would say, “Yeah, sure.”

Stanley screws up his eyes and stares at the cup of coffee next to a pile of transparencies, trying to explain his scene: “You can’t say skinheads do this and they don’t do that, because some do and some don’t, you see. Like I smoke pot. Some skinheads do, although the majority don’t mind you.”

He has an alert face, which tends to fall into a pout, and his voice is soft: “But, you see, I’m sure skinheads are influenced a lot by their parents. They’re from working-class families mostly. You know, they hate Pakistanis, hippies and Hell’s Angels. Greasers, we call ’em. I’m sure their parents say, look at those bl**dy Pakis keep comin’ here and takin’ away our jobs, and those hippies takin’ dope and never work, and those Hell’s Angels so dirty. So the son thinks, sh*t, my mum and dad don’t like them so I’m gonna go and get ’em.”

Skinheads generally grow out of it by about 22, when they start with a regular girl. No time to meet their friends anymore. Stanley is growing earlier. Notice how he calls skinheads “they” sometimes. Next month the photographer is sending Stanley and Rudy to color printing school. He thinks they are both very talented. Watching the two of them helping the photographer around his studio – loading cameras, sweeping up, printing proofs, making the coffee – they remind me of Tom and Jerry under a cease-fire.

“This hippie was standin’ on a corner and my friend just run up, grabbed him, slung him on the floor, and kicked him. I was standing there watching. Then the hippie got up and went over to the older brother of the hippie who hit him. ‘Your brother just him me,’ he said. The brother smashed him and said, ‘So have I.’ And the hippie just walked off.

skinheads at piccadilly

Skinheads and Hippies and Piccadilly

“I was walking down by Swiss Cottage last Sunday. Six skinheads jumped out of a lorry and came for me. Just because they felt like it. They don’t need no reason. I don’t like that though, a lot of geezers on to one. Once this big geezer got a hold of me they knew I couldn’t hit back. Then they all started bashing me. Skinheads must be going a bit soft nowadays.”

“See, a lot of things skinheads do… I don’t know what it is, but when they all get together something happens. Like last Saturday night I was on a bus with about nine other geezers and we thought, sh*t, we’ll wreck the bus. And whe did, we really wrecked that bus. You should’ve seen the state that bus was in by the time we got off. Didn’t have a reason at all. We just thought, sh*t, wreck the bus.”

Skinheads together are called a Crew. Stanley used to belong to a crew called the Cottage Killers. You see their name written on walls all round Swiss Cottage. Nights they’d go to some hippie dance and beat up the hippies or throw bottles through windows. Or mess around with Pakistanis and the Chinamen in their restaurants: “Just to have a laugh. But, see, then what happend is we got a real name around London, and all the big crews, they came over to get us. And there were reallyy big geezers who came down. They gave us a good kickin’ so we called it a day.”

Skinheads listen to Soul music… The Four Tops, Supremers and stuff like that. Maybe that’s why skinheads don’t bother black people. Maybe it’s because black kids mix with skinheads in a lot of places around London. Or maybe it’s because blacks smash back. “Pakistanis never come back at us. That’s one reason they get bashed so often. Sh*t, they should turn round and hit is sometimes. ‘Cause, see, the way skinheads work is they’re only going to give someone a bashin’ if they know they’re not going to get it back. Know what I mean?”

Here’s Stanley going to the football match, Leeds vs. Arsenal. Stanley supports Arsenal. The crew is in uniform. Boots with reinforced metal tips, tips intended to protect working men from falling building materials on the job site. Braces. Levi stay-press pants rolled up at the bottoms. Ben Sherman shirts; short sleeves with buttons on them, button at the back of the collar, pleated back, slim fit.

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A copper checking the boots (for metal tips) of this Chelsea supporter before a Chelsea vs. Arsenal match

For football, all the crews that support one club join up for a fight against the other team’s supporters. A one-day merger. Many carry umbrellas, weapons for which you can’t get nicked.

Each team’s supporters have their own end of the stadium. Arsenal’s is called the North Bank. Leeds’ supporters are out to capture the North Bank and to smash up as many Arsenal supporters as possible. They charge. They are beaten back, all 500 of them. They re-group and charge again.

A skinhead kicks a lone copper, then 10 more join in the fun. A squad of coppers come to rescue him. The skinheads sing: “Harry Roberts is our friend, is our friend, is our friend. Harry Roberts is our friend, he kills coppers.” Harry Roberts is a hood who bumped off three fuzz during a job one night.

The furtherest-out football fights are between the supporters of Celtic and Rangers, two Glasgow teams. They’re really crazy about football in Glasgow. Say your father was a Celtic supporter, he wouldn’t let you marry a Ranger supporter. Or, looking for a job, a Ranger supporter wouldn’t hire you.

Anyway, after the game Stanley and the rest of the crew start smashing up the coaches in which the Leeds supporters came down… Pulling out seats, breaking windows. At Kings Cross, one Leeds skinhead gets stabbed in the neck and pushed under a bus. “You know why? Because he supported Leets. He just didn’t support the right team.”

Some nut ran all over the neighborhood writing “LOVE” everywhere. On Monday, Rudy took Stanley’s picture standing under one. Stanley has a bandaid near his left eye from the bashing. Rudy and Stanley think it’s a great shot. Stanley took it home to show his mum and dad.

Stanley

And as always in parting, a nice little tune… Soon Come!!