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Saturday, 30 September 2017

Revisiting The Crack - Ruts (September 1979)

The Crack - The Ruts
Virgin Records
Produced by Mick Glossop
Released 29th September 1979
UK Chart #16

The Crack Full Album with Bonus Tracks

Side 1

Side 2

    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

1990 Reissue on LP and CD included Bonus Tracks
B6 Give Youth A Chance 3:07
B7 I Ain't Sofisticated 2:16
B8 The Crack 5:49

2016 A Picture Disc Reissue was released

The Tracklisting was the same as the Original 1979 Release.

Singles on The Crack



Released 8th June 1979
UK Chart #7



Released 31st August 1979
UK Chart #29



Released 2nd November 1979
Did Not Chart

The French Release was on 12"
 (Back Cover of French 12")
The B-Side was different to the UK Release


The Ruts
Live In Paris 
13th January 1980

(I have posted about this album a couple of times in the past few years but as a number of the links on those posts are dead I thought I'd revisit the album and update with some additional artwork etc. - Doug, S4L)

 (L to R: Paul Fox (RIP), Segs Jennings, Malcom Owen (RIP), and Dave Ruffy)

I wrote this on a previous post on the album and I still think this way about the album:

"The Ruts debut album The Crack 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.

The Crack is still one of my favourite debut albums 38 years on. The combination of Punk and Reggae was something that was not done to jump on any bandwagon and follow the likes of The Clash etc. It was part of the make up of the group and the things that they drew influence from. 

My favourite tracks on the album aside from the singles are S.U.S., It Was Cold, Savage Circle and Criminal Mind. Human Punk was a live recording and you can listen to the full show from the Marquee in 1979 on the link below.

The singles that were featured on it were all brilliant (including Jah War! - Charles Shaar Murray writing for the NME had said in a review of it that it was "Possibly the most unimaginatively earnest piece of white reggae ever" - maybe I should ask him if he knew what the song was inspired by and whether he was aware of the links between The Ruts and Misty in Roots down there in Southall and the violence that had been unleashed on them at the hands of the Metropolitan Police's SPG in April 1979! I thought his review was overly harsh). It was great seeing Babylon's Burning reach the Top Ten (peaking at #7) yet disappointing that the other two singles didn't do as well.

The B-Sides of the singles were also pretty tidy. Society (B-Side of Babylon's Burning) is just a totally in your face assualt speaking of how we are being watched and information being gathered on us - this was 1979, just think how it is in 2017!

"Our media controlled by hate
You've been programmed, it's far too late
The first time that you open your eyes
They plug you into all their lies"
- Society

Give Youth a Chance (B-Side of Something That I Said) was originally called Black Man's Pinch (see John Peel Session link below).

I Ain't Sofisticated (B-Side of Jah War) always gives me a chuckle with it's little dig at Education! Though not keen on the use of the C word on it!

Bonus Links
The Ruts Live At The Marquee 19th July 1979.
 Human Punk that was on The Crack is taken from this show.

John Peel Session 29th January 1979.
Savage Circle
Babylon's Burning
Dope For Guns
Black Man's Pinch
Criminal Mind

Also released in 1979
the Debut Single
In A Rut / H-Eyes
People Unite
Released January 1979

Benefit for Paul Fox
Henry Rollins took the vocals for this show on 16 July 2007. Paul Fox passed away a few months after this show.

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