Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Oi! -- The Album [EMI, 1980]
This precedes and outstrips the notorious Strength Thru Oi!, suspected by cultural determinists of helping to spark the Southall riots. Both albums have been hastily deleted, but a search might be worth it. Though the style tends toward tuneless football-cheer monotony and undiscriminating bully-boy dynamics, the best oi songs (by the Cockney Rejects and the Angelic Upstarts especially) recall the anthemic power of good Slade and early Clash. And though the skinheads who are oi's core audience have always been associated with random racial brutality, the politics of these lyrics is strictly pro-working-class and anti-authoritarian. What's more, the misogyny of El Lay punk is all but absent, if only because these boys hardly sing about girls at all. A-