Friday, July 8, 2011

Atomic Menace

Once upon a time, Oi Polloi was a band of Scottish skinheads whose songs covered topics that were quite a bit different than the normal bovver boy fare. They were more concerned with US intervention in the Sandinista revolution or Britain’s role in apartheid than they were with warring in the terraces alongside their mates. As the title of this record might suggest, Oi Polloi was also worried about the increased use of nuclear power. More traditional skinheads would probably sneer at lyrical topics such as these, but Oi Polloi made a point to espouse skin/punk unity early on in their tenure. Later on, they ate too much anarcho pie and disassociated themselves from the skinhead movement altogether. I guess if you’re Oi Polloi, it’s true that if you’re not now, you never were.

Resist the Atomic Menace was part of a mix tape that also included the Disaffect/Sedition split, Health Hazard’s ten-inch, and a Deprived seven-inch that I listened to a whole lot in my late teens. That tape is long gone, but I still remember listening to it in my room after a Blanks 77 show some fifteen years ago. “Reach for the Light” streamed out of my little speakers as the morning sun crept through my Venetian blinds, informing me that I’d been up all night long. Despite having a lot to do that day and needing the sleep, I felt a kind of peace that I haven’t felt often in this life. Then I got a double espresso just to make sure that the peaceful feeling didn’t result in my falling asleep on the way to band practice.

No skinhead I’ve ever met agreed with me, but I rated Oi Polloi right up there with the Cockney Rejects at one point. It still gets me when the braindrill guitar kicks in at the beginning of “Hands Off Nicaragua” and I can’t help but want to sing along to its chorus. I don’t really follow what Oi Polloi is up to currently, but their early records like this one are all I need anyway.

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