This is a 21 guitar salute to The Press, the very first US Oi! band.

Formed in New York in 1984, the Press didn’t only duplicate the sound of the first wave of English Oi! bands they absolutely captured the spirit.

Your Oi!, like our Oi! was working class protest married to angry rock n roll music.

Your songs, like our songs, were about boredom, rebellion, and defiance.

Working class kids faced the same problems whether they grew up in Canning Town or Queens.

You either had no job or a shit job, the dole, low wages or a bag full of swag.

As Andre Schlesinger wrote in It’s Not What I Want: ‘Five days a week, I’m working 9 – 5, it’s never enough to pay the bills but it’s enough to keep me alive.’

The music of the Press was clearly influenced by the British punk and Oi! bands that preceded them; in particular, the Clash, the Gonads, the Upstarts, Cock Sparrer and SLF.

Yet they wrote great sing-along rebel anthems of their own, with melody, guts and with plenty to say.

Best was Schlesinger’s 21 Guitar Salute which is kept alive today by another great US band The Dropkick Murphys.

And while by 1984 the scene in England had become depressingly conservative and copycat, the Press were experimenting with ska (Try) and the more Modish drive of ASAP.

Their emblems were English: the Fred Perry logo, the crossed hammers. But they were bright enough to reject the dumb-ass media image of skinheads as racist boneheads and hitched their banner proudly to SHARP. (With its roots in bluebeat, mod and South London, how could skinhead be anything other than non-racist?)

The Press’s stance was truly international.

Andre’s stance – even more amazingly – was international socialist: “Don't wait for tomorrow, revolution now!” he wrote, echoing England’s Redskins.

And buddy, if you don’t like that then you can “shut your fucking mouth.”

It’s Not What I Want started out not as a song but as a picket sign.

Other US Oi! and Oi!-influenced bands were to go on and make a bigger splash, but never forget The Press. They deserve to be recognized.

The Press were the first; they got it, they took it, they made it their own.

The kids were all right.

 

Garry Bushell, Godfather of Oi!

London, UK 7/17/04