Ah ‘The Decca Years’, It’s the first time on vinyl (other than the picture disc version), Finally Sparrers Decca years gets it’s dues.
Thanks to Cherry Red Records you can now add this fantastic record to your collection. Fourteen tracks pressed on black vinyl for the first time it features everything seminal Oi! band Cock Sparrer recorded during their time with Decca Records in the late 70s. Bosh!
Of course, it’s therefore crammed with classic live favourites, ‘Runnin’ Riot’ and ‘We Love You’ plus ‘Sunday Stripper’. It’s in great company here rather than just buried on the legendary ‘Oi! The Album back in the day. still revered as the go-to scene compilation and is often fondly talked about in punk rock circles because of the inclusion of songs as good as ‘Sunday Stripper’.
As with many Sparrer records this one is limited, so if you snooze you will lose. To draw you in, this version comes in a splendid gatefold sleeve complete with an inner picture collage and stacks of memorabilia from the era. Current guitarist Daryl Smith has overseen the artwork layout and therefore it has the authenticity it deserves from inside team Cock Sparrer. It adds to the release and you’ll love it when pouring over the pictures as the album blasts out of your speakers.
It’s hard to believe it was the bands 50th Anniversary recently and many of the tracks featured on this compilation are still the staples of their current live set and stand tall alongside more recent tunes.
‘Running Riot’ is a great opener and the aggressive punch of ‘Chip On My Shoulder’ sounds exactly as the title suggests. If you are new to Cock Sparrer then this is the perfect place to start your journey down that rabbit hole From the snarl in McFaulls vocals to the rawness of the riff, culminating in the solo that hacks and slashes, it’s such a great song. There is no chink in the armour of Decca era Cock Sparrer, not for a single seccond does the energy drop, nor does the quality of songwriting, Mixing punk rock with hard rock wasn’t easy back in the 70s but Cock Sparrer used their influences when songwriting from the hard rock of ‘Platinum Blonde’ and the twin guitar duelling to the amped up charge of ‘Teenage Heart’ these songs are simply brilliant and to say that after 50 years is not to be sniffed at. There aren’t many artists who can claim to have written songs that still sound fresh after four decades.
Had Slade or Thin Lizzy boogie Woogie like ‘I Need A Witness’ people would have championed it for many years no doubt about it. That’s not even going near the classics like ‘Sunday Stripper’ that had someone like Steve Marriott penned it would be huge, I kid you not but these influences are all in these songs even the snottier punk songs.
When you get to ‘What’s It Like To Be Old’ you can smile back and say it’s alright to be fair, even if I’ve waited this long to get these on one LP in their original state this old lark has such a great soundtrack. The Decca Years is an essential purchase for anyone who loves guitar-based Rock n’ Roll exactly how it should sound. But take my word for it you’ll have to be quick because these will be snapped up sharpish. Lace-up those Doc Martins and get a sprint on – this will sell out. Buy It!
Author: Dom Daley