I really can’t think of a better way to close out 2020 than with these two barnstorming compilation albums. Cramming in twenty nine tracks from across the Pirates Press roster of talent and featuring something old, something new and something even a little bit blue note-ish.


Released at the end of November ‘For Family & Flag’ builds on the theme Pirates Press devised for their hugely successful two hundredth release, the awesome triple LP box set ‘One Family One Flag’, albeit here they have decided that rather than simply celebrating their glorious past, this one also adds in some rather splendid new material, and perhaps most surprising its Oi! legends Cock Sparrer who lead the charge offering up, not one, but two, new cuts spread across these releases. ‘Marching Onwards’ is the tune on ‘For Family..’ and it’s a blistering terrace anthem that shows the Sparrer lads building on the sound of their ‘Forever’ album of three years ago by adding in some more contemporary influences and even a hint of a dub breakdown mid tune. ‘Marching Onwards’ Sparrer most certainly are.


Where ‘For Family..’ really works though is in the eclectic nature of the collection, and whilst the likes of The Bar Stool Preachers (‘When This World End’) and Subhumans (‘Thought Is Free’) all deliver immediate dancefloor fillers it’s the tunes that throw me a slight musical curveball like the jazzy big band swagger of ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ by Shuffle and Bang (which opens the record and is absolutely glorious stuff) and the one man band folk punk of Lenny Lashley with ‘Need’ (which closes the record) that immediately have me dropping the needle again and again.


Plus, what’s not to love about Charger thundering through their recent 12” ‘Watch Your Back’ like Motorhead’s true bastard sons?  Add in some riotous streetpunk tunes from the likes of Noi!se, Lion’s Law and (the more straight up hardcore of) Seized Up and this LP is guaranteed to make your socially distanced Christmas party all the more interesting. Result!


Likewise, the Garry Bushell compiled ‘Oi! 40 Year Untamed’, which kicks off with ‘Take It On The Chin’ the second of those aforementioned new Cock Sparrer tracks. Here Colin McFaull demands we all “grow a pair” and just like ‘Marching Onwards’ this is the sound of Sparrer at their most anthemic. You know, if one great thing has come out of this pandemic it’s these bloody Sparrer tracks. I just hope we’ll get to hear them live sometime next year.


Though, to be fair, this record is far from being just the Cock Sparrer show, and with Mr Bushell’s name above the door of the gaff the big guns of Oi! are all out in force to join the celebrations. Cockney Rejects, The Business and Last Resort are all present and correct, with ‘New Disease’ by Roi and the bois being an immediate hit with yours truly. Jeez. Is it really seven years since ‘This Is My England’?


Of the newer breed of bands included ‘Against All Odds’ by Crashed Out really stands out largely due to the band’s metallic take on the Oi! sound kind of making me think what Rose Tattoo might have sounded like had their 80s albums had a production that actually captured their live sound. Elsewhere the likes of Gimp Fist, (the excellent) Bishops Green, and The Drowns all once again make me long for that day when I’ll once again be able to stand amongst my mates at a live gig, pint raised high in the air singing along at the top of my voice.  Something that ‘Noddy Holder (Bootboy Mix)’ by The Old Firm Casuals was custom built for.


Sparrer aside I’ve deliberately not gone track by track through these albums simply because the real strength in both collections is in depth and variety of the tracks on offer, and that ladies and gentlemen is what great compilation albums are all about.


Essential stuff!

Buy ‘For Family & Flag Here

Buy ‘Oi! 40 Years Untamed’  Here

Author: Johnny Hayward