London, England’s legendary Oi! boys the Business have been cranking out working-class punk rock longer than many of us have been alive, and despite periodic bouts of inactivity, have remained a productive musical force for 30 years.
Doing the Business is the band’s first release on Sailor’s Grave, a union that seemed bound to happen and is, frankly, a little surprising it took this long. Obvious statements aside, this release combines a four-track studio EP with six live tracks, five of which were recorded at the London’s Marquee Club in 1982. Why they didn't feature all the live tracks from the same show is anyone’s guess, but the live tracks here aren't the main thrust of the release anyway.
The studio portion of the disc is made up entirely of covers, which is surprising since the release hasn't been marketed as a covers album at all. First, English rock band Status Quo has some punk energy injected into their 1973 single “Mean Girl,” which makes for a pretty good opening to the album. Beerzone’s “Don’t Give a Fuck" follows and is easily the worst cover of the bunch, lacking any hooks or clever lyrics while being redundant as hell. American Oi! pioneers the Bruisers get songwriting credits for the best cover here in the form of “Till the End,” which the Business send out to former Bruiser Rick Wimert, who passed away in 1996. Another of the top tracks on the disc is the cover of “1-2-3,” originally by the Professionals, a short-lived punk band featuring Paul Cook and Steve Jones that formed after the Sex Pistols initially disbanded.
The story behind the live tracks as explained in the liner notes is that the band had always wanted to play the Marquee Club, but were as good as banned from playing there due to a restriction on the number of skinheads the venue would allow inside. As luck would have it, they were finally a given a last-minute opportunity to play a 15-minute set in between Chelsea and the Adicts in 1982 and the performance was captured on tape. While the live portion does include classics like “Blind Justice” and “Suburban Rebels,” the rough audio quality makes it hard to enjoy, and seemingly obsolete since most fans should have the classic album of which the latter song serves as title track.
The live tracks don’t really take away from this release at all, but they don’t enhance it much either. It’s a nice bit of archivist history, but the four studio tracks--even as covers--are what make this record worth buying.