Album Review: The Last Resort – A Way Of Life – Skinhead Anthems

The Last Resort

Album Review: The Last Resort – A Way Of Life – Skinhead Anthems
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

I loves me some Oi! and, second to Cock Sparrer, Herne Bay’s The Last Resort is my go to band for a fix of Street Punk. The history of the band is convoluted and impossible to unpick in a limited number of words, but their musical output is exemplary, though only (to date) represented by half-a-dozen albums in forty years.

Captain Oi! next reissue is the band’s debut album, 1982’s A Way of Life: Skinhead Anthems, which finds the original eleven tracks supplemented by a further thirteen songs.

Of the original songs, the opening duo of Freedom and Skinheads in Sta-Press are both built around a Sabbath sound, with Iommi-esque doomy chords dominating, particularly Freedom. Vocalist Graham Saxby delivers a trademark vocal performance, as well as trenchant and barbs observations on the difficulties of the working class at that time. Rebels With a Cause brings the band back to a more traditional Oi! sound, while continuing the anger of a disaffected youth.

Changing has fatter riffs against a DIY production, We Rule OK is all about that catchy melody and skipping drums, as it rages against an out of touch Tory government, and the instrumental Lionheart has something of a metallic Ska feel to it.

The cover of A Way of Life is adorned with the Union Flag and The Last Resort address a level of patriotism that the mainstream would prefer didn’t exist, so they pariah anyone who openly loves their country. Well, the band aren’t about to capitulate and both Rose of England and Red, White and Blue are anthems to the land our grandparents died to defend.

Album Review: The Last Resort – A Way Of Life – Skinhead Anthems

Resort Boot Boys and Violence on Our Minds are pretty self-explanatory, driven on by aggressive basslines and thumping percussion. And some might recognise King of the Jungle from Borstal’s At Her Majesty’s Pleasure release back in 2021, the band being connected through guitarist Lee’s dad, Arthur, having been a member of The Last Resort.

The bonus content features demo versions of Skinheads in Sta-Press, then called Stormtrooper in Sta-Press, Resort Boot Boys and a second version of King of the Jungle. There are also five additional tracks that sound like demo versions, which would rear their heads at various stages through The Last Resort’s career. Held Hostage has the most polished sound, while Soul Boys, Eight Pounds a Week, Johnny Barden and Working Class Kids, all have a demo feel to them.

Before those tracks there’s a second version of Violence on Our Minds, released for the cassette single, which runs fourteen-seconds shorter than the album version.

Closing things out are four cuts lifted from all manner of compilations across the years, Horror Show and Wicked Woman are classic Oi! tunes, while Oi! Oi! Skinhead is just studio japery. And then there’s a third version of King of the Jungle, lifted from the Carry On Oi! collection, which features the “No mess, no fuss…” spoken introduction.

Splits, reunions and further splits would blight the band’s progress, but the ship was settled at the turn of the millennium when Roi Pearce re-founded the band; previous attempts, although unsuccessful, did lead to the formation of The Warriors (my old mate Basil’s favourite band), led by Graham, who are also still going strong to this day.

The Last Resort would release Resurrection in 2005 and a further three Skinhead Anthem volumes between 2009 and 2021. The band also now feature a certain Lars Frederiksen on guitar, as the Old Firm Casual and Rancid man cites them as one of his favourite and influential acts. If rumour is to be believed, an new record is imminent.

For all the latest news, reviews, interviews across the heavy metal spectrum follow THE RAZORS'S EDGE on facebook, twitter and instagram.