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In this post I’m gonna trace the career of a great Oi! tune: Wish the Lads Were Here, originally recorded by Red London. It was first recorded as a demo – allegedly in 1985 (according to a certain shit-head discography site that shall remain unnamed). But the band’s first EP was put out in ’83, so go figure. This is classic English punky Oi! from the 80’s. I pulled this track from their record Last Orders Please! from 1994 – pretty much a Best-Of record. I couldn’t find any cover art for the demo, so you get uh… some picture from some magazine. I’m only posting the one track because Red London’s not my favorite, and this is only the beginning of this song’s odyssey through time. (But if you want the rest of Last Orders Please! just say so, and I’ll upload it.)
Next up is Skullhead with their take on Wish the Lads Were Here, coming in at track #4 on this record. This is peak Skullhead doing glorious British RAC. Basically the song sounds exactly the same as the Red London version, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Although Skullhead’s Victory or Valhalla! EP doesn’t feature the classic and amazing hand drawn RAC barbarian warrior cover art like some of their previous releases, it still has a pretty kickass skeleton band on the front. Showing up in 1994, this release came out either a decade after the Red London demo or the same year as Last Orders Please! The plot thickens. I read an article somewhere that said someone who had played in Red London at some point went on to play for Skullhead at some point. So presumably that’s how Wish the Lads Were Here made into the Skullhead set list. Hard to imagine these days, as Skullhead is of course white noise RAC, and Red London is well, red. Nevertheless, Skullhead keeps the song alive and sends it forth in the Oi! time machine.
Wrapping it up is Suede Razors with their single Passion on the Pitch b/w… that’s right, Wish the Lads Were Here. Just like Skullhead they don’t meddle with the song but do a straight forward cover. And the tune lends itself well to the bovver rock style Suede Razors plays and which was enjoying a brief resurgence when this record was released in 2015. That wave of bovver rock revival didn’t seem to last very long, but that’s probably for the best. When Suede Razors first started putting out records they were keeping it old school and released a slew of 45 rpm singles which was bad ass. This single and another were released as special editions by our friends at Under Watchful Eyes. The songs on those records were all different and they were ya know, about stuff. By the time they got around to releasing a full length LP all the songs they recorded were just bovver rock about bovver rock. Clap your hands, party party, dance yeah. That kinda shit. And it just fell flat for me. I suppose that’s the shortcoming of bovver rock, there’s only so much you can do with Clap, Stomp, Yeah yeah yeah. It’s not really an enduring formula. Afterall, if we want all that we’ve always got Slade. But anyway, before they burnt out on bovver and turned into another band (Ultra Sect), the Suede Razors put out some good shit including this single. And they brought the Oi! classic Wish the Lads Were Here right into the 21st century.