Monday, November 7, 2011

Sham 69 - Borstal Breakout

Sham 69 - Borstal Breakout
Download -
Release -  1978

Story by Evan Vellela, writer of Zero Mentality Fanzine.

I guess this story starts when I was nearing the end of my term in middle school (so I was about 11 or 12). I had a vague interest in music, but like most kids that age, I didn’t know much of anything about anything remotely interesting or cool. My knowledge of music stemmed from whatever boring alt rock my classmates were into or the endless barrage of Beatles records being played for me by my older sister (both of which I absolutely hated). It was around this time however that I discovered punk music purely by chance.

I remember the moment perfectly because it was such a weird coincidence. I was running errands with my father, and while we were out, we had stopped at the discount store in the strip mall by my house to pick up something. While we were there, my eyes drifted to the tape rack by the registers. As I was quickly realizing that the shelves were filled with nothing but garbage adult alternative “classics” and religious audio texts, I came across something that didn’t quite fit. It was a tape comp that Rhino Records had released, entitled The Modern World: UK Punk II 1977-78. I couldn’t believe that something so seemingly cool would be here and that nobody had picked it up already. Without hesitation, I paid the $5 and waited in anticipation until I could listen to it.

When I got home, I played it from front to back for hours, absorbing every band and every line of info on the pro-printed insert. This was my introduction to bands like The Jam, Wire, X-Ray Spex, Buzzcocks and all the entry-level British greats. Among all of this, one track stood out to me: Sham 69’s "There’s Gonna Be A Borstal Breakout." I couldn’t stop listening to it, and must have rewound that tape hundreds of times just to hear that track over and over. It was the perfect mix of gruff punk attitude and melodic songwriting. I was hooked as soon as the track kicked in and the singers maniacal laugh rang out through my Walkman's headphones. It wouldn’t be until a little later that I would find the single for that track, which was paired with another of their songs, "Hey Little Rich Boy." This became one of my all-time favorite punk singles (and probably my favorite 7” picture sleeve), and because of that tape comp, I began my quest to learn anything and everything about this completely alien style of music called "punk rock" (and in the pre-Internet age, this was not an easy task).

No comments:

Post a Comment