By no means as serious as their Two Tone counterparts in The Selector and The Specials, nor as musically diverse as Madness, Bad Manners nevertheless carved themselves a niche in the world of Ska and a special place in the hearts of Skinheads and Herberts everywhere.
Captain Oi’s celebration of this long standing British institution contains the band’s first 5 albums plus a booklet containing release notes and photographs from their 80s albums and singles.
As is the case with a lot of Ska bands, there are several different versions of the same songs peppered throughout this collection (7” and 12” versions along with several remixes) and I don’t think it’s unfair to say some of it hasn’t aged particularly well – It’s hard to believe a paean to domestic violence (‘Lorraine’) was a chart hit and I must admit one of my favourite songs when I was a kid. That said there’s a lot of gems spread over these five disks with the band’s debut ‘Ska ‘N’ B’ containing the lions share (‘Lip up Fatty’, ‘Special Brew’, ‘Wooly Bully’ etc.)
The legendary and irrepressible Buster Bloodvessel and his band of merry men continued releasing chirpy upbeat ska throughout the rest of the 80s (and indeed continue touring even now) but for me the first 3 albums and accompanying singles were their best; second album ‘Loonnee Tunes!’, ‘Gosh It’s Bad Manners’ (featuring the ‘Can Can’ – a song many people 40+ will remember from their youth as the soundtrack for kicking clumps out of each other at the Sunday night disco) and ‘Forging Ahead’ (featuring the irresistible ‘My Girl Lollypop’ and ‘Samson & Delilah’) are classic slices of 80s Ska with pop sensibilities and a sense of fun.
Nostalgic possibly, and a far cry from the harder Ska-Punk sound that came to dominate the 90s certainly, but this is a celebration of Ska music which makes you smile and will elicit many happy memories for 80s teenagers. Ian Pickens