The Boys: ‘Undercover – Live in China’

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For sheer unadulterated Rock ’n’ Roll excitement you need look no further than this album: it’s pure burning magic.

The story of The Boys would make a wonderful film, but nobody would believe it even though every drop and bizarre incident is true.  The band was formed in London in 1976 after Matt Dangerfield and Casino Steel left The London SS and quickly found and co-opted the talents of singer-guitarist John Plain (soon to be internationally known as Honest John Plain.)  When no bass player or drummer were forthcoming, Jack Black and Kid Reid, who had previously been employed in the same printing shop where John Plain had been earning a crust before being befriended by Casino and Matt, were brought in to fill the gaps.

1976 was the year that Punk Rock really broke out in England and The Boys were in the right place at the right time.  The only trouble was that they were not really Punk at all.  If you had to put them in a category it would be Power Pop.  Yes, they played aggressively with fire and passion, but unlike many of the Punk bands of the day they could all play their respective instruments and they had three people who could sing lead vocals in the shape of Steel, Dangerfield and Plain.  They also had three people that could write very catchy Pop songs, the same three.  Aside from that, there were not many Punk bands with keyboards either.

The first album came out in 1977 and was self titled.  Their second offering was “Alternative Chartbusters” in 1978 and was followed by “To Hell with The Boys” (1979) and finally “Boys Only” in 1981.  In 1979 there was also a hilarious Christmas album released by The Yobs (swap the Y and the B around) and three more Christmas albums followed later.

Each one of The Boys’ albums was a fine effort and they sold moderately well, but nothing earth shattering which is strange as they still all hold up very well today.  Live concerts followed the same story – going down a storm every night, but the venues never got any busier.  Punk Rock/Power Pop petered out of fashion and so did The Boys, which sadly led to their break up in 1982.

Then in 1999 four of the original five decided to give it another go.  Playing festivals and special events and taking their time (well they did have other things to do), The Boys trundled along once more.  In 2006 the band actually performed a whole tour, playing their first dates in London for twenty-five years.  Then in 2014, Casino Steel, Honest John Plain and Matt Dangerfield, with the new rhythm section of Kent Norberg and Martin H-Son went into the studio to record their comeback album “Punk Rock Menopause”, which upon release was met with great critical acclaim and more gigs were lined up.

The brilliant idea of doing a nine date tour of China was put forward with visions of glory and fame looming through the welcome publicity this would bring.  Off they set only to be greeted at Shanghai airport by officials telling them the whole tour had been cancelled due to crowd control and security issues.

Not being perturbed, The Boys were then escorted by Shanghai Punk Rock band Round Eye on a cultural tour of China.  Three top-secret gigs were set up in basements and with only word of mouth to promote them the concerts went ahead.  Thankfully somebody set up a recording studio at one gig and got the perfect recording of The Boys in full flight, smashing their way through a forty-five minute set before being whisked away.

Mott the Dog (centre) with Casino Steel and Honest John Plain at Jameson’s The Irish Pub in Pattaya.
Mott the Dog (centre) with Casino Steel and Honest John Plain at Jameson’s The Irish Pub in Pattaya.

Old and new songs are played on this album and all fit in together seamlessly.  You can hear the young Chinese punks going a little crazy, actually seeing their idols perform in the flesh.  It’s a worthy monument to a great story – 5 stars!

The Boys:

Casino Steel- keyboards and vocals

Honest John Plain –guitar and vocals

Matt Dangerfield- guitar and vocals

Kent Norberg- bass guitar

Martin H- Son – drums

Album Tracks:

TCP

Terminal Love

1976

Weekend

I’m a Believer

You Can’t Hurt a Memory

Punk Rock Girl

Global warming

I Don’t Care

Brickfield Nights

First Time

Living In The City

Sick On You

Note: Written by Mott The Dog and Hells Bells. Mott can often be found in his kennel at Jameson’s on Soi A.R, North Pattaya.