Thursday, June 30, 2005

West One (Shine On Me)

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The Ruts - a punk rock four piece, part of the second wave of punk acts that exploded out of England in the late '70s. Featuring Malcolm Owen on vocals, Paul Fox on guitar, John "Segs" Jennings on bass and Dave Ruffy on drums, these guys had the musical chops that so many of their peers didn't. They were super tight and capable of rocking some fierce riffs, and they incorporated hefty doses of dub and reggae stylings into the mix. Malcolm's voice was reminiscent of Joe Strummer, and musically they shared much with The Clash. I always felt that they deserved the acclaim that the first wave of punk rockers had, but they never got the props. They seemed to be heading for the big time when Malcolm was discovered dead of a heroin overdose in July of 1980. My first exposure to the band was on a bizarre and cheap Virgin Records compilation called Cash Cows - it has tracks by the Human League, Gillan, PIL, Japan, Mike Oldfield, Captain Beefheart, The Skids and a few other odd and sods (including one of yesterday's Fingerprintz tracks) that were not related. I always thought that it was actually a pretty entertaining compilation because of it's wide variety. Anyway, the Ruts song featured on that LP was the single West One (Shine On Me) which was released shortly after Malcolm's death, and it's a shining example of what these guys were all about - the super tight rhythm section hold down a pounding backing track, Paul Fox attacks his guitar, Malcolm's voice is sweet yet gruff, and there's even a lovely sax solo courtesy of Gary Barnacle (who became a member of the band for a while). It's a great song, and to me hints at the greatness that should have followed. The rest of the band soldiered on after Malcolm's death as The Ruts DC, but never achieved much success.


Grant said...

Thanks so much for all of the great music lately. I always check your site and take your recommendations. I don't have this Ruts record, but I always loved the Ruts DC/Mad Professor Rhythm Collision album. Really something to behold. I miss it.

Neal said...

The Ruts were a band who had the bad luck to be coming around right as the first wave of punk groups were closing down shop —They got lost in the rush and were criminally underrated. Great song and a good pick.

HarmJob said...

Babylon's Burning!!!!