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Thursday, 29 September 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 273 - Ruts

  The Crack - The Ruts
Virgin Records
Produced by Mick Glossop
Released September 1979
UK Chart #16

    Malcolm Owen - vocals
    Paul Fox - guitar, organ, backing vocals
    John "Segs" Jennings - bass guitar, piano on "Jah War", backing vocals
    Dave Ruffy - drums, backing vocals

Additional Personnel
    Richard Mannah - backing vocals on "S.U.S" and "Criminal Mind"
    Mick Glossop - synthesizer on "It Was Cold"
    Gary Barnacle - saxophone
    Luke Tunney - trumpet

Singles on The Crack

June 1979: Virgin, VS 271
 also released as a 12 inch single
UK  # 7

August 1979: Virgin, VS 285
 UK # 29
Jah War  / I Ain't Sofisticated
  November 1979: Virgin, VS 298
Did Not Chart
(Back Cover of French 12")

1979 Virgin Records France, Virgin 2141 248 

I had thought of writing a whole new piece on The Crack album and went back to remind myself what I'd written last time I spotlighted it here on the blog. After a quick read I thought to myself that I didn't think I can better it, so in the good fashion of TV let me state for the record that this is a repeat pretty much with a few tweaks here and there.

The choice of the Ruts album The Crack today takes me right back to my teenage years in South East London, Forest Hill to be precise (I was 16 years old when it was released). It makes me think about many of the friends who I used to hang about with - the Forest Hill Punks. Some of them I know are still around, and like me have grown up, got married etc. Others I have no idea about, except the ones who are no longer with us.

Listening to the album makes me think not just about good times but bad times as well because there's lots of stuff going on lyrically that made an impact upon our young lives - the attitude of the cops toward us (Sus and Jah War), the violence of the age (Something That I Said), the bleakness (It Was Cold), the addictions (Criminal Mind), the betrayals (Backbiter), and the smell of danger (Out of Order).

It makes me remember hanging around Counterpoint Records in Forest Hill listening to the latest music when some of us should have been at school, or day trips, when we bunked off school, to go up to the Portobello Road and hang around Virgin Records' Offices hoping to scrounge new posters, badges etc of our favourite bands on that label (Skids, Sex Pistols, The Members and the Ruts).

When I hear it now I don't, to quote that great Pete Shelley song, wish "I was sixteen again". Time has moved on but a lot of stuff that happened in those days shaped who I am today and that's fact.

But listening to the album also makes me think of the band who made it. Segs and Ruffy lived in Forest Hill at the time and I reckon that they are still one of the best Rhythm Sections around, only Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare are better! In 2016 they are still playing many of these songs but also writing and performing new ones with Ruts DC. It makes me think of guitarist Paul Fox who was one of the most exceptional around, people always talk about the sounds that a guitarist like The Edge makes when he plays but Foxy was able to make some incredible noise without even a third of the technology that U2 have at their disposal. Sadly Foxy is no longer with us having passed away after a battle with cancer in 2007. Also it makes me think of Malcom, the volatile frontman who tragically died of a heroin overdose in July 1980 aged 26, ten months after the release of this album. It was a life snuffed out far too young! It makes me think about what could have been.

Finally it's an album that makes me remember that life goes on, inspite of all that I went through, what this band went through, there is still a life to be lived. 

There's not a poor track on it and from start to finish you enter a world where Punk and Reggae meet on a level playing field and this wonderful sound just blows your mind. You feel the anger, the discrimination, and perfectly understand the violence conveyed because it was exactly what your life was like at the time and was clearly what was going on in society at the time.
Ruts DC have this past month released a brand new album and it's well worth checking out. You can catch my thoughts on it and watch some live footage of the band in action as well as some new Promo Videos HERE.

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!
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