The Boys were one of several bands to rise from the ashes of the legendary UK punk band London SS. Casino Steel (keyboards/vocals) had been in the influential Hollywood Brats before meeting Matt Dangerfield (guitar/vocals), who had converted his rented basement flat into a home recording studio.

Initially Andrew Matheson (vocals), Wayne Manor (bass), also from the Hollywood Brats and Geir Waade (drums), an old friend of Steelís were also in the band in late 1975. Matheson went home for Christmas and never came back! After several rehearsals Waade and Manor also left. They quickly recruited Honest John Plain (guitar/vocals) who had been at art school in Leeds with Dangerfield. He initially joined on bass but quickly switched to rhythm guitar. Plain worked in a T-Shirt factory where he met Duncan "Kid" Reid (bass/vocals) and Jack Black (drums) who had been at school together.

The Boys made their debut at Londonís Hope and Anchor Pub in October 1976 and after a handful of gigs they signed to NEMS on 16 January 1977. They became the first punk band to have an album deal (The Sex Pistols having just been sacked by EMI).

Their first single "I Donít Care" c/w "Soda Pressing" hit the streets on April 12 1977 prior to a national tour supporting ex-Velvet Underground legend John Cale. At the end of July 1977 their second single, John Plainís classic punk anthem "First Time" was released and received considerable airplay from John Peel before entering the charts at No.84. Peel also invited The Boys to record a live session for his show, broadcast on 8 August 1977.

The Boys recorded their first album on 5/6 May 1977 but all was not well. NEMS had employed Pete Gage to produce it and The Boys werenít happy with his production, considering it did not have the raw, energetic punk sound they were seeking..

After removing the Hammond Organ, lowering the vocals and adding some raunchier guitars the album was finally ready for release. Sadly, due to NEMSí incompetence it took four months to hit the shops by which time a few other punk bands had released their debut albums thus wrestling the initiative away from The Boys

On 16 August 1977 the RockíníRoll world was shook by the news of Elvis Presleyís death. Unfortunately this had dire consequences for The Boys as NEMS were distributed by RCA, who switched all their efforts and resources into keeping up the huge posthumous demand for Elvisí records. The Boys saw both their debut self titled album (which peaked at No.50) and "First Time" quickly slip out of the charts as no one could buy them!

Every Christmas The Boys rearranged the "B" and the "Y" and became The Yobs. For Christmas 1977 they recorded "Run Rudolph Run" c/w "Worm Song". The Boys next single, "Brickfield Nights" came out in February 1978 and was followed a month later by their second album "Alternative Chartbusters", which as the title suggests was crammed with potential hit singles. Unfortunately once again because of distribution problems NEMS failed to get the album out in time for the tour set up to promote it!

 A third album "Junk" was recorded at Rockfield in the late summer of 1978 but never released because NEMS failed to pay for the sessions. However, much of the album finally surfaced on Captain Oiís 1999 release "Punk Rock Rarities ".By this time The Boys had had enough and decided drastic action was required to free them from their NEMS contract. So confident were they in their music and their ability to bounce back they literally went on strike until NEMS agreed to release them from their contract. The Christmas 1978 offering from The Yobs was "Silent Night" b/w "Stille Nacht" which they bootlegged themselves to fool NEMS.

After an 18-month absence The Boys were back, this time with Safari and with a new album recorded in Trondheim, Norway. "To Hell With The Boys" was released on 27 November 1979, complete with a free 16-page music booklet with the first 5,000 copies. It was preceded a week earlier by a single, "Kamikaze".

The Yobs brought out "Rub A Dum Dum" as their Christmas offering before The Boys released "Terminal Love" on 7 February 1980, during their UK tour supporting the Ramones. The old Stones song "Youíd Better Move On" was chosen as their next single before Steel left the band to have considerable success with Gary Holton of "Auf Wiedersen Pet" fame.

The Boys continued as a four piece and on October 17 1980 they released their penultimate single "Weekend" which became a Radio 1 record of the week. On 30 January 1981 their final album "Boys Only" and single "Let It Rain" were both released simultaneously before they finally called it a day in the late summer of 1981. They reformed briefly in the summer of 1982 for a Spanish tour which included a memorable gig at the castle on the hill overlooking Ibiza town.

Although The Boys never achieved the commercial success they deserved, their music has refused to die. Campino, lead singer with successful German punk band Die Toten Hosen and longtime fan has championed their music for more than a decade.

Two years ago Japanese band Thee Michelle Gun Elephant had a big hit with a Boys cover. This prompted the re-release of several Boys albums with encouraging international sales (over 30,000 albums in Japan alone). "Satisfaction Guaranteed", a Boys tribute album was also released featuring 13 bands from around the world and a second one, "You Wanna Know What Itís Like" is due for release shortly.

On the back of this renewed interest The Boys were persuaded to come out of retirement and play some dates in Japan. Four of the original members along with Steve "Vom" Ritchie (replacing Jack Black on drums) played two hugely successful dates on 31 July and 1 August 1999.

Further album releases tempted The Boys to play the Holidays in the Sun Festival in Begara on 23 September 2000 with the same line-up as Japan. Original drummer Jack Black made a guest appearance and also filmed the concert. It was the first time since March 1980 that the five original band members had been reunited on stage. Having received several tempting offers from around the world more live dates remain a possibility.

Steve Metcalfe, April 2001

 

 

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