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Cock Sparrer - Shock Troops (Cover Artwork)

Cock Sparrer

Cock Sparrer: Shock TroopsShock Troops (1982)
Carrere

Reviewer Rating: 5
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Contributed by: GlassPipeMurderGlassPipeMurder
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Way back before knowing about classic British Oi! bands was cool (i.e. somewhere around 2005), I was thumbing through a copy of Punk Rock Confidential (put out by the Bay Area moguls at Fat Wreck) and ran across a photo of a woman with Cock Sparrer's bloody wings logo tattooed across her entire back.
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Way back before knowing about classic British Oi! bands was cool (i.e. somewhere around 2005), I was thumbing through a copy of Punk Rock Confidential (put out by the Bay Area moguls at Fat Wreck) and ran across a photo of a woman with Cock Sparrer's bloody wings logo tattooed across her entire back. Not only was this the most outrageous/coolest thing I'd ever seen, but it served as a reminder that I needed to check out the curiously named band that people had been recommending to me for years. After one song (an online stream of "Last Train to Dagenham") I was hooked. Love at first listen, if you will.

The major factor playing into getting hooked on a consequential listen of a full Cock Sparrer album was how ridiculously catchy every single song was. After all, you can't make a catch without a hook. You can't make a successful Cock Sparrer album without hooks, either. It's essential. And on Cock Sparrer's timeless 1982 debut, Shock Troops, it's never more apparent. With fairly standard music, and lyrics that are above par, but not exactly brilliant, Cock Sparrer's big selling point is that their songs will get stuck in your head for days, and you won't mind at all. "Riot Squad" -- a whimsical tale of a rejected thug turned state-hired billy club -- seamlessly blends classic pop songwriting with a perfect six-string siren simulation as lead vocalist Colin McFaul sings the chorus, "He's in the riot squad / The wanna fight squad / The shoot on sight squad / For law and right." While other prominent British Oi! acts like Sham 69 and Cockney Rejects jumped at the genre's success, inking major label deals, Cock Sparrer epitomized the working class ideals behind the music, as the militant anti-corporate "Take 'Em All" suggested the best thing to do with slick-talking, self-interested music execs was to "Put 'em up against a wall and shoot 'em."

Long accused by the sensationalist and misinformed media of propagating the right wing, Cock Sparrer lets their true politics show through bluntly in "Secret Army": When a bomb goes off in a city street / When a man gets killed for his beliefs / When a mother cries for the son she had / That's when the world's gone mad." The boys kick up a bit of dust with the unofficial English football anthem (and I stress the word "anthem") "England Belongs to Me," while the climbing pitched proclamation of "Droogs Don't Run" sounds like a direct inspiration for the Bouncing Souls' "You're So Rad."

While I wouldn't necessarily suggest a full-back tattoo, Cock Sparrer deserves all the praise they get, for Shock Troops is an album anyone can enjoy. [Not to mention, Taang!'s 2000 reissue includes five bonus songs that, while not being at the same level of quality, certainly don't detract from the perfection of the original.]

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
skaffee (May 25, 2011)

This and "guilty as Charged" are the two cock sparrer albums I was raised on as a kid. Love em.

oskorei (August 24, 2008)

lace up your boots, crop your head, put on any Cock Sparrer album and go ape shit

ReducerSF (August 24, 2008)

best punk rock album EVER

etwiels88 (August 23, 2008)

one of my favorite punk records ever

lushj (August 23, 2008)

Unstoppable record.

I was a late-comer to the entire album, but I always knew the greatness of "Take Em All." It's great that more and more people are "getting" this record & this band.

Funny how 2 of the leading UK oi/skinhead bands (Sham 69 & Cock Sparrer) used melody & catchy riffs that somehow escape the majority of their later imitators. Most oi bands put together a half-assed version of Blitz & call it a band.

bytheslice (August 23, 2008)

I remember Schleprock covering "Running Riot" on their album "America's Dirty Little Secret". Roger Miret & The Disasters also covered one of their songs. I'm making it a point to try and find music by these guys.

mikexdude (August 22, 2008)

JohnDC, you were in Iron Cross? Score is for your old band.

JohnDC (August 22, 2008)

Back in the late 70s and early 80s Cock Sparrer was a standard for our album and singles collection. Check out Running Riot!

clam_tears (August 22, 2008)

One issue of AMP magazine referenced this band in almost every album review that month. Well not really that many, but you get the idea. There were at least 4 comparisons to Cock Sparrer when reviewing new releases. So I think "this band must still be relevant and worth checking out". Boy, was I wrong! I don't admit that I'm wrong very often, but this time I really should have just flipped the page and kept reading the reviews instead of searching out this band on the internet. Then I made the mistake of putting this album on my portable and now when it's playing on random, I get one of these songs showing up at random. Yuck. It's not one for me, but thanks anyway.

skankin_in_the_pit (August 22, 2008)

Such a great album.

JayTee (August 22, 2008)

A true classic, if you're out with the right people, you can sing 2 words to any song off it and someone will join in. Beer helps.

Torgo (August 22, 2008)

Solid review Black Lung, one of my favorite records.

louie_louie (August 22, 2008)

timeless

T-Rock (August 22, 2008)

Fifteen-year-olds with patches on their studded leather jackets are stoked.

mikexdude (August 22, 2008)

Big 'word' to this.

maxethunders (August 22, 2008)

While I've never heard this album, Cock Sparrer is fuckin awesome. Listen to "Sunday Stripper" or "Runnig Riot" and tell me they don't.

mattramone (August 22, 2008)

This album is fucking great. I don't listen to much Oi!-punk anymore, but this shit holds up.

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