The Angelic Upstarts formed in South Shields, North-East England 1977.The original line up consisted of Mensi (vocals), Mond (guitar), Steve Forsten (bass) and Decca Wade (drums).

Influenced by bands such as The Clash and The Sex Pistols, The Angelic Upstarts are a meeting of working class ideology and musical aspiration. The band launched their punk crusade with the independently released single 'The Murder of Liddle Towers' in 1978. The band paid for the recording and pressing of 500 singles which they released themselves and sold at gigs and local record shops.

The single was then picked up by Small Wonder Records who released it nationally. It's attack on police brutality earned them an early patron in Sham 69's Jimmy Pursey, who chased a similar constituency of disaffected working-class fans.

Soon after this Upstarts did sign to. Bassist Steve was kick off because his drug problems and Ronnie Wooden came in.

Ahe record caught the attention of Jimmy Pursey, who produced their debut album "Teenage Warning" , which, like its 1980 follow-up "We Gotta Get Outta This Place", roundly ridiculed the oppressive policies of Margaret Thatcher while offering an outpouring of sympathy for the working class. Although Upstarts were formed so early as 1977 and did play melodic but angry punk - like Sham 69 and UK Subs - they were for a reason or another involved in Oi movement in early 1980s.




Releasing the third studio album is usually the making or breaking of many bands. In the Upstarts case "Two Million Voices", their first LP for EMI Rds, was to be the making and breaking of the band with some of the "tunnel vision punks" finding the variety of styles inclued on the LP too much to swallow whilst the critics, so often anti upstarts, finally praised the streetwise lyrical and musical content. Sticks Warrington had left after the release of the "Last Night Another Soldier" to join the Cockney rejects and was replaced by Paul Thompson before the band's original drummer Decca Wade was drafted back into the group to record the remainder of the LP.

Following the incredible chart sucess of their "Live" Lp (seven weeks in the Top 50) The Angelic Upstrats were more than surprised when their record company EMI suggested that they "changed style and seek a more commercial musical direction"! this was ptoblably prompted by the political climate of the time which was forcing a backlash against any bands even loosely connected with the Oi! movement following the riots sweeping the nation in the summer of 1981. So, in a bid to pacify EMI, the band went into studio and recorded four songs for release as an EP. However EMI still thought the tracks were too raucous and refused to release the EP.

EMI sent the band back to the studio in April 1982 the resulsts of the sessions were released as "Still From The Heart". The album caught a lot of die-hard Upstarts fans by surprise. Gone were the rough'n' reday raucous Punk anthems and in their place were saxophones, trumpets and keyboards. The band received a lot of flak at the time for "Still From The Heart" and it marked the end of their relationship with EMI.

As the Upstarts' popularity surged, so did the levels of violence at their live shows; they became mortal enemies of National Front supporters, who railed against the band after first misinterpreting their leftist songs as supportive of their cause. At the same time, the band's music was becoming more complex and accomplished; by 1983's "Reason Why?" , the strongest Angelic Upstarts record, Mensi's songwriting skills had become tighter and more melodic, even branching out into reggae and folk, while the group's base broadened with the addition of keyboards and saxophones.

As the Upstarts' popularity surged, so did the levels of violence at their live shows; they became mortal enemies of National Front supporters, who railed against the band after first misinterpreting their leftist songs as supportive of their cause. At the same time, the band's music was becoming more complex and accomplished; by 1983's "Reason Why?" LP, a good album, Mensi's songwriting skills had become tighter and more melodic, even branching out into reggae and folk, while the group's base broadened with the addition of keyboards and saxophones.

After issuing the inflammatory single "Brighton Bomb," a celebration of the IRA's attempt to assassinate the Conservative cabinet, the band released the LP "The Power of the Press"; lackluster sales triggered their break-up not long after. In 1988, the Angelic Upstarts briefly reformed; in 1992, they reunited again, this time long enough to cut an album, Bombed Out .

The band have reformed and split a few times over the years and some of the ex members include... bass players, Ronnie Wooden, Glyn Warren, Tony Feedback, Ronnie Rocker and Max Splodge who also had a stint playing drums. Other drummers have included Sticks (who later joined The Cockney Rejects), Paul Thompson (ex Roxy Music) and Chris White. Decca Wade rejoined the band for a few years before leaving again.
Brian Hayes originally joined the band as second guitarist until Mond left leaving Brian as the only guitarist.
The band had two full-length live releases 'Anthems Against Scum' and 'Live From The Justice League'.
More recently, Mensi revamped the Upstarts with an all star line-up and this line-up recorded the first new Angelic Upstarts studio album in years, entitled "Sons of Spartacus". Bringing the Upstarts to a mostly new generation of fans, still playing in tune with the anti-fascist cause.

 

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