REBELLIOUS JUKEBOX: Hurry Up Harry vs Teen Age Riot

I’ve never been that sure. Is it Teen Age Riot or Teenage as in Teenage Dirtbag or Rampage? You see so many different things. Anyway, today sees the New Yorker’s take on the might of Surrey punksters Sham 69.

“Weeeeeee’re goin’ dan the pub”

It’s on my favourite Sham 69 album, That’s Life where it’s all part of the story. Back online, Punky Gibbon left this review for Hurry Up Harry.

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‘Hurry Up Harry’ is an insanely catchy (if slightly overlong: one bridge too far) pub knees-up complete with a beery piano solo. It’s from the forthcoming LP That’s Life. Little wonder this raving punk tune with a memorable footer terrace chorus went into the Top Ten and made life a misery for Harrys throughout the UK. ‘No Entry’ is exclusive and an equally impressive racket about the band’s failure to make it past US borders because of their criminal past. Again, another brilliant chorus (“They don’t want us in the USA/We didn’t wanna go there anyway”). The cover dedication is: “Special thanks to the Waterman’s Arms, Hersham for their support (cheers – Harry) and the american Embassy for their lack of support”.

It’s incredible what you remember forty years on but I do know that I’m ever had that picture sleeve. Mine was s plain black.paper affair and the Polydor middle was in grey. Yes, 1978 was still the Jukebox era and so you used to get some out of chart singles with the gaping hole in the middle where plastic spiders would best. Honestly, tell this to kids today and they wouldn’t believe you.

The Independent newspaper had this accolade too.

A brisk and breezy tune, a mix of punk, Chas and Dave, with a dash of Ian Dury, “Hurry Up Harry” had the chorus “we’re going down the pub…” which has been replaced by “we’re going to win the cup”, so no problems there for the lyrically challenged. Pursey has hailed it as “the greatest punk football record ever made and that’s the end of it. The unofficial songs are always better than the official ones, and this year is no exception”.

I love the sheer simplicity of Harry Up Harry but I suspect, as has been the way of things in many of these ties, it may fall short against another modern day classic in Teen Age Riot. The following snippette is from American Songwriter.

Whether you consider it the apex of the late ’80s alternative music scene of the forefather of the grunge revolution that would sweep the music world in the ’90s, or both, it’s safe to say that few albums have been as impactful as Sonic Youth’s 1988 disc Daydream Nation without ever threatening the mainstream. The closest the album came to commercial success was its opening track and lead single “Teenage Riot.”

Part of the reason for the song’s acceptance at the time on modern rock radio was its capitulation to traditional rock song structure. Once you get past the non-sequitur intro music featuring Kim Gordon’s cryptic chants, “Teenage Riot” settles into a frenzied guitar workout for Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo while Gordon on bass and Steve Shelley on drums keep the rhythmic hammer down. Even at the rapid tempo, Moore imbues the song with enough melody to keep things catchy.

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In the liner notes to the deluxe edition of Daydream Nation, Moore was quoted as saying the lyrics were inspired by another alt-rock standout. “It was actually about appointing J Mascis as our de facto alternative dream president,” he said, referring to the frontman of Dinosaur Jr. After all, 1988 was an election year, so the intensity and earnestness behind Moore’s wish was understandable.

But “Teenage Riot” ends up transcending those quirky origins and becomes a kind of anthem even though Moore’s deadpan vocals and wry lyrics never dare to aspire to anthemic status. The song ends up being a snapshot of the disaffected, alienated kids who could get behind a leader who would “come running in on platform shoes/With Marshall stacks/To at least give us a clue.”

Daydream Nation is probably the Yoof’s greatest album if you were to ask fans and Teen Age Riot is a bit of an epic. It’s not my favourite but then I gambled with ‘Cross The Breeze in round one and it flunked.

Should be an interesting tussle this one and as usual, I really don’t mind which comes out on top.

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