Saturday, June 11, 2011

Skinhead Justice and a Lion's Heart

Youth on the Street, Pressure Point's 1998 release, holds up pretty damn good.  It is a solid release filled with angry and inspiring street punk performed by a multi-racial band of misfits and skins.  That's important to note because when one hears a song like "Skinhead Justice" and "Strength Thru Oi!" (a horrible song title) the alarms go off.

"Heart Like a Lion" opens the CD with what has become an iconic line "See that girl walking down the street/Boots and braces, she looks so sweet."  It's a great song about a woman who sticks by the singer "no matter what [he's] done."  With a "heart like a lion," this girl is "always there when the others hide."  If singer Mike Erickson is growling about one woman in particular, he doesn't call it out.  Based on his description, it's obviously a skin chick, and having known several of those females throughout my life, I would say "heart like a lion" is a fairly accurate description.

The second track is a cover of "Never 'Ad Nothin'" by the Angelic Upstarts.  The final track on the CD, "So Ends Our Night," is also a cover.  This time by Last Rights.  Both are competent songs, but the Sacramento-based Pressure Point really shines when it does its own songs.  Oddly enough, "Blue Collar" is not indicated as a cover song, but it sounds like it is.  I believe I've heard this before (perhaps it's the traditional Jamaican sound throughout the song that can also be briefly heard on "Youth on the Street"), but can find no indication it isn't an original Pressure Point tune.  It is so unlike anything else on the release, yet it fits right in.  

"Skinhead Justice," "Guts Alone," "Pride & Glory," and "Strength Thru Oi!" all have titles that invoke the feeling that people get when they hear of skinheads.  These songs have zero to do with race, and everything to do with honor, the working class, unity and how the classes are played against each other.  "Pride & Glory" is the most blatant when it comes to pointing these issues out.  "When we fight each other/We're just pawns in their game/Black versus white/They treat us all the same/You can fight me, and I can fight you/When we fight each other/We do what they want us to do."  It continues, "Right wing, left wing, I got no choice/The bastards in power give me no voice/Token promises are never kept/Working class souls finance their debt."

Pressure Point is liberty spikes and shaved heads united against hypocrisy and deceit.  It's a hard order to fill, but this release shows the band is more than capable of putting up a fight against it.  It speaks some hard truths, and its only fault is that it can be easily ignored by people who come to the table with their prejudices already firmly in place.  Yes, the lyrics speak of violence, but not the violence you expect, and that is probably the most pleasant surprise of Youth on the Street.  It is intelligent and thought-provoking while at the same time avoiding all the stereotypes far too many people associate with this brand of music.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer:  Yeah, I got this to review (for free) way back when it came out.  I reviewed it at the time in my 'zine, and decided to revisit it here to see if it held up.  It does.  Clicking on a link may earn me a commission, too.

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