The Story of American Oi!

The Story of American Oi!

When most people think of Oi! music, their minds turn to the British bands of yesteryear, such as Sham 69, Cock Sparrer, the Business, and the 4skins. It was these and other British bands that started the music phenomenon known as Oi! or Streetpunk and there is a great site documenting the beginning of the Oi! movement right down the proverbial cyberstreet called Oi! The Web Site. While we can never forget the contributions the early Oi! bands made, the British are no longer at the forefront of the Oi! movement today. That distinction is held by the land of the brave and the home of the free, the good ol' USA.

American Oi! got its first lease on life through hardcore. Bands such as Negative Approach used to cover Oi! songs in their sets (this case being the Blitz classic "Someone's Gonna Die"). Even today, hardcore bands cover Oi! gems, such as Sick Of It All's cover of Sham 69's "Borstal Breakout" and Warzone's rendition of the Last Resort's "King of the Jungle". Hence, in the early days, American Oi! had a hardcore edge to it. Take a listen to YDL or Immoral Discipline for some examples.

American Oi! was disseminated to the masses through the first U.S. of Oi! compilation. There's some great music on that record, such as early mixes of Anti-Heros songs "Hate Edge" and "Dignity" as well as the should-be-classic "I Hate Hippies" by the Kicker Boys. If you haven't got a copy of U.S. of Oi!, do yourself a big favor and find it. It's on LINK Records and it should not be that much of a chore to find. Hell, I got my copy on CD at HMV of all places!

As hardcore went the way of things more krishna and clothes more baggy, the Oi! movement in America began to sound more straight out "punkish" (is that a word?). Bands such as the Anti-Heros from Atlanta, Niblick Henbane from New Jersey, and Patriot from Chapel Hill began to get recognition outside of their hometowns. Record labels such as Vulture Rock (then called the Steve Priest Fan Club), Headache, and GMM became the driving force in the foundation of American Oi!. Without labels such as these, who knows if we would ever have heard songs such as "America" by Niblick Henbane or "Drunk and Roll" by Patriot?

The release of U.S. of Oi! Volume 2 on America's own GMM Records marked the dawn of a new era for American Oi!, if only for the fact that bands from all over the country could be heard all over the country by punks, skinheads, and herberts. While I've heard a lot of people say U.S. of Oi! Volume 2 sucks, I still think it's a great compilation. Go buy it if you don't have a copy yet.

In recent years, there has been a slew of Oi! bands coming up seemingly out of nowhere. Almost every major city in the U.S. now has an Oi! band to call their own. You have Milwaukee's The Service, Pittsburgh's The Sussed, DC's United 121, just to name a few. I won't even go into the talent coming out of New York City or Los Angeles...suffice it to say, like it or not, American Oi! is here to stay. Who knows, may we even see The Templars on MTV?????


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