All Skrewed Up
An Examination of Skrewdriver’s Earliest Release

All Skrewed Up has endured. Skrewdriver, the reviled oi of RAC ilk, are no more. The inventor and sole member, Ian Stuart Donaldson, died in a car crash in 1993. Ideally, you won’t find White Rider in a friend’s record collection, but you may find All Skrewed Up. I’ve always wondered why.

Simply, “it’s not racist” is a likely answer to our question.

It’s a common answer, and too often a flawed one. We’re listening to waves of one-to-five minutes of hateful sentiments. Scrutinize the artwork, the lyrics; Discogs the label and the other artists they’ve released; ask your friends about whatever gossip they heard about that band – it’s an ordeal. Fortunately, Skrewdriver provide clarity.

 

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1977’s All Skrewed Up lies on an ideological fault. The album was released prior to Skrewdriver’s restart in 1983. Gone was the blokish candor and punk costume, traded in for unmistakable boots and braces done up in monochrome, leering like thugs.

Their hit, “I Don’t Like You,” from the debut was re-contextualized on the their single Back With A Bang (1982) preceding their thesis and single, White Power (1983). Early antagonism had a new motive.

All Skrewed Up hasn’t been duffed because it’s an “alright” record, just short of solid, poised between early punk and the sparks of oi. And yet, one thinks after All Skrewed Up’s twenty-six minutes that its significance is thanks to the group’s future, rather than any outstanding quality. It’s bought for shock.

Skrewdriver was Chiswick Records’s[1] ploy to meet the growing skinhead phenomenon of Sham 69 and Angelic Upstarts. The label chose a couple of lads from the ancient Poulton-le-Fylde now granted free entrance to the Roxy in exchange for agro ditties. The label named them too.

The Chiswick boys opened for Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Damned, even Motörhead. Stuart fondly recalled a drink with each as he did so often in interviews.

Then they came to a flashpoint: politics. Skrewdriver wasn’t political (Stuart describes having never seen a black person until moving to London). Their friends were political. But the band hadn’t thought to move into that territory, not yet.

 

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The issue was that gigs were turning into riots between whites-only National Front and the leftist, even red, skins. Bands were being asked to take a stance. Sham 69 turned against the National Front. Chiswick asked Skrewdriver the question and Skrewdriver turned from Sham 69 to the ultra-nationalism. They were soon dropped from the label.

There is a photographic shift in Stuart’s expression from cheeky snarl to resigned pride. His physiognomy retains violence throughout: the frenzy of his eyes.

The punkier origin of Skrewdriver depicts Stuart cocky. His head is tilted back despite the rest of the unit’s morbid gaze.

Stuart has flare. His shirt reads “1977” and “Skrewdriver” down the bottom line. He is the one in light.

Then they go close-cropped at the behest of Chiswick Records but one still dresses like a ted, recalling Combat 84’s “Poseur”:

You was a punk in ‘77

And you was a skin in ‘78

You tried mod but you were too late

Changing, changing all the time.

For Stuart, sartorially, here it stayed, if not for the coda-like biker phase for the “Built Up Knocked Down EP.”

 

Skrewdriver - All Skrewed Up Front

 

On All Skrewed Up, the band is a bunch of brute wankers shaved and ill fit against a neon green background (the record came in yellow, pink, and orange). Ten years later, one might have mistaken All Skrewed Up for a Happy Mondays album.

Moreover, the members look uncomfortable against Stuart, a burl in the punk cloth. He is the one that “made it,” while the others receded into nine-to-fives, even a Radio One Breakfast Club DJ.

In a press photo, he is almost shunted aside by the new guitarist, “Dirty Doug,” who barks at the camera, but Stuart placates with a snarl.

Rock’s foppishness enters the songs. Stuart croons on about stardom and his disdain for normalcy, its inherent violence cleansed by rock music. His bluesy hollering owes a lot to Mick Jagger and, generally, the blues.

“Where’s It Gonna End” is hushed. Stuart’s growl is submerged. The weight of the melody is placed on the acoustic guitar rather than the electric standing back in the mix. The introduction celebrates the concert. Rock music. All else is waste.

ianstuart2

They roar back in that restrained ’77 manner that is more pop than punk with tinseled gristle. “Back Street Kids” acknowledges those despairing and destitute. It is the futureless existence, that is, the repetition of the urban humdrum and the catalyst for writing rock music.

Stuart repeats these themes ad nauseam.

The hit “I Don’t Like You” putters about placing targets on the masses and the faceless “boss.” It’s staying power credited to the count-off, “1-2-3-4; I don’t like you.”

It’s counterpart, “An-ti-so-cal,” enlightens the image of barbarian Stuart acting up Tim Roth in the TV special, Made in Britain, though retaining a bit more fuzz on top, “I ain’t gonna cut my hair; Gonna wear boots a short-haired crop.” There is no interest in betterment for the skinhead. Once the aesthetic is bought, the symbol of class, the aim is to maintain that inherent character. All else pales and the rest is filler.

There is the odd conclusion – the cover of The Who’s “Won’t Be Fooled Again,” but the rest is okay punk. Skrewdriver was signed to cash in on a niche and the violence of those early gigs.

England had bigger fish to fry, and that is no pun. You can imagine today that Skrewdriver was just another punk band entering the fray as the first wave wound down. They’d have been forgotten as soon as Chiswick dropped them.

Stuart as politico was as any National Front braggart with enough talent to write a song. The questions posed to him in interviews are a recital of tired rhetoric. He was a man caught up in the times and his convictions were based on what was comfortable. The violence that came when Skrewdriver returned was just another aspect of the skinhead’s lifestyle, except for American fans it was removed and across the pond.

I was biking in New Orleans and noticed a news crew alongside a statue of Jefferson Davis that had been tagged: WHITE PRIDE. America is grappling with racism many thought was long gone. Stuart played in The Klansmen, having released Fetch the Rope and Rebel With A Cause, fetishizing this past some call “heritage.” It’s the violence at sleep on All Skrewed Up, conceived by a man swayed by some notion of a white tradition. Racism is not confined by geography, and the racist uses all racism to justify his belief.

All Skrewed Up is notable for what it precedes – a career of hate. For an American audience willing to delve past an incendiary item, there is the Ku Klux Klan and the Stuart’s rockabilly side-project, The Klansmen. The trend hopper, poseur – be careful, for what you give credence to may be something you fear.

[1] The company is a subsidiary of the British Ace Records, a label famous for its reissuing, whose Cheswick is still reissuing All Skrewed Up.

 

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The Author

CWL

CWL

Here comes I that never come yit, with my big head and my little wit.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Contact: colinwulfstanleonard@gmail.com

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Kontaj Nero
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Kontaj Nero

fake off nazis!

grey.ant
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grey.ant

terrible article. i love skrewdriver up through the “back with a bang” ep… no-nonsense punk, meat and potato punk with no artifice involved (and i’m not white). to claim that one likes this album sheerly out of shock value completely dismisses that this is a fine, basic slab of punk rock, and to claim otherwise is being naive. i’ve played it numerous times for the “coolest” most “right-on” anarchopunks and antifa i’ve known in the past with no intro, and i’d always get, “who is this? this is really good” (i’ve owned a ink cover chiswick pressing since 1989). were… Read more »

NandabaNaota
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NandabaNaota

Terrible, awful inaccurate rehashing of Oi! (not ‘oi’) history. Quite how Skrewdriver could be a record label ploy to ‘meet the growing skinhead phenomenon of Sham 69 and Angelic Upstarts’ when a) Sham were not a skinhead band and b) Skrewdriver predated the Upstarts, evades me. Along with Slaughter and Cock Sparrer (who dubbed their sound ‘skinhead rock’), Skrewdriver are one of the first skinhead bands in the punk era. In the first ever article in Sounds magazine about the new breed of skins and punks soon dubbed Oi! by Garry Bushell, the likes of The 4-Skins, The Exploited, The… Read more »

jockney
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jockney

i really do think its time to forget about skrewdriver and ian stuart. im almost positive that chiswick no longer release the lp’ I saw the band in 1987,they were shit. i went trying to keep an open mind as to what i would see and hear and by the end of the night i was a total anti nazi. the hate and ignorance was sickening.

Ben Schmidt
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Ry An
Guest

The Digital Octopus cover of “I don’t like you” go look for it.

Elías MV
Guest

I think the whole “People only like this record to try to seem edgy” argument is getting to be more prevalent (and thus, tiring) than the whole “Man, I’m so edgy, I love Skrewdriver. I’m into the early stuff before they were racist.” spiel. It’s 2015, no one gets to freak anybody out and come across as ‘edgy’ by owning this anymore. I love how the article makes a point of critizicing this record by referencing lyrics by Combat 84, a band with well known and publicized racist/right wing sentiments. It’s a pretty decent record, makes sense owning it if… Read more »

William Tuck
Guest

Racist or not this record pales in comparison to other bands of the era.

Aaron Porkstick Miller
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Aaron Porkstick Miller

I enjoyed that. Thanks for the flashback!

Hugh Iarthar Bhéal Feirste
Guest

All Skrewed Up was shit and on par with the shit that followed it with the only difference being in that which followed Skrewdriver found themselves an ultra nationalist white power niche to latch onto which masked their lack of talent and made them popularly marketable to knuckle dragging neanderthals.

Rick Christie
Guest

Fuck Skrewdriver and that cunt Donaldson.

Christopher Peach
Guest

A lot of punks love to argue that if you used to be punk, you were NEVER punk. Why doesn’t Skrewdriver fall into that category?

Ian Kerr Barron
Guest

Nazi Punks Fuck Off. Everything about Skrewdriver is wrong and I’d happily shit on Ian Donaldson’s grave.

James M. Oliver
Guest

Was watching Made in Britian just last night.

Tony Martin
Guest

What pussies!!

Spawn Pun
Guest

All ima say is NAZIS CANT DRIVE! B|

Purdy Monroe Ian
Guest

I used to be one of those that said “oh it was before they were racist”. The songs are catchy and shallow. But as I grow older, I have a harder and harder time throwing even unintentional clandestine support behind that dead racist fuck. I’ve been feeling the same way about Burzum lately.

Jonny Hendo
Guest
Steve Millender
Guest

I can find the humor in this . job well done

Clancy Ben
Guest

oi oi great record!

Ivana Zeri
Guest

A great sounding disc!!

Re Hab
Guest

Alec Eberhardt

Cooper Huckabee
Guest

Angelic Upstarts were not a skinhead band.

Timothy D White
Guest

I actually like that album quite a bit; it’s every bit as good as any of what their contemporaries were putting out at the time.

Brandon Stench
Guest

All Skrewdriver sucks shit.

Gabriel Cardoso
Guest

Alan Michel Brasseur

Thomas Proskow
Guest

Saw this record at a punk vinyl shop in Osaka!

Chris Mason
Guest

I bought a Skrewdriver shirt last week on ebay…

Edwin Oslan
Guest

smh, these guys again? Who cares? Their first album is just a bunch of okay, passable Who and Ramones riffs – not worth the time spent unless you’ve exhausted every single other band out of the class of ’76/’77 and I’m pretty sure none of you have heard the Models, the Rings or the Cigarettes.

Cög Stiedy
Guest

Losers

Lau Ra
Guest

Guglielmo Domenico Lora

Peter Micanovic
Guest

oi

Ryan Richards
Guest

Why is it ok to listen to GG Allin but not Skrewdriver? Its just music people, stop being a bunch of pussies. If you like it, who cares? If you dont, who fucking cares?

Rick Christie
Guest

Because GG hated everybody. He was a misanthrope with severe mental problems. Not just a stupid asshole racist.

James M. Oliver
Guest

Yeah GG was a mess from early childhood and deserves a modicum of compassion. Watch Hated it’s clear he was no racist.

Preston Ell
Guest

RAC blows and it’s influence on other genres really just baffles me. One of the worst trends for a split second was black metal bands trying to incorporate this godawful attempt at rock music into their music. End result was shit musicianship, shit people, shit records, and a basket of pure fucking irony.

Kadesh Le Morte
Guest

like that black and roll bullshit or what?

Preston Ell
Guest

yeah that shit sucks too. I’m talking more about early Absurd and their ilk though. They notably got better and less fascist-y after the original members dipped but they still get releases put out through notable NSBM labels.

Martin W-ilckens
Guest

“less fascisty”?? He’s still a leading person in ns(bm) scene and its distribution, even more than in the first yeras of Absurd.

Preston Ell
Guest

Lyrically from what I know it seems to be more ambiguous. In no way are they any less connected to the NSBM shit stains.

Luka Sigar
Guest

Shit stains?Classic antifa tolerance right there.

Preston Ell
Guest

lol because nazis are notorious for their tolerance

Preston Ell
Guest

clean the doritos out of your neckbeard when you’re done.

Jeffery Beckman
Guest

Pride (In the Name of RAC)

Josh Barnes
Guest

It’s Chiswick records and they never reissued the release

Devlin McCarthy
Guest

Also, if you can’t appreciate the hilarity of spreading the message of white supremacy through the liberal application of half-assed Chuck Berry riffs you are dead inside.

Darren Nonversation
Guest

Fuck em.

Devlin McCarthy
Guest

I’d have to say that “Boots and Braces” is superior to “All Skrewed Up”, and still doesn’t contain anything too outwardly objectionable.

Rondale Miller
Guest

I remember that, wow.

Kaje Annihilatrix
Guest

Still a better band than Oasis.

Dano Sancho
Guest

Walter Mcdonald

Mike Miczek
Guest

Glad he’s dead.

Timothy Fife
Guest

Great article

Christopher Bickel
Guest

Glad y’all didn’t really give them a pass here. I actually have most of their records (a lifetime of working in record stores and obsessively collecting anything “punk” related, coupled with “I’d rather these be in a home where they will be laughed at rather than one in which they can poison minds”). Their “white power” records ARE laughable. The stupid “soulful” singing of Stewart is painful. All Skrewed Up is a *decent* album, that gets far too much praise from people trying to be “edgy” by saying “I love Skrewdriver. I’m into the early stuff before they were racist.”… Read more »

Alexander Argento
Guest

y u hatin’?

Corrance Bartholomew OfMoray
Guest

Why give this band any attention?

Santi S Iñiguez
Guest

As much as tge band offends some, they do have some catchy tunes.

PI Made
Guest

omg, dont spread this nazi trash / good night white pride !!!

Ben Schmidt
Guest

Man I can’t believe Ian Stuart was a homo sexual! Shame he never had a chance to come out like his best mate Nicky Crane.

Julio Mala Vida
Guest

Great album!!

Steve Millender
Guest

I have all the Skrewdriver Lps, All of them are Brilliant . Mouse

Matthias Iscariot
Guest

I suppose you consider Mein Kampf brilliant too. Tosser.

Ronald Lhn
Guest

Hail victory and the strong survive really sucked, to each is own

Steve Millender
Guest

I have read it , it is an Interesting read, but the better book is the Turner Daries .

Mike McGuinness
Guest

Actually, freedom, what freedom? Was the worst album. Imop.

Matthias Iscariot
Guest

White power fuckheads like you are what’s wrong with this world.

Steve Millender
Guest

Matthias Iscariot, I’m of No Power for anyone , But you were so eager to judge, not even knowing anything about me , I thought I would goat you and sure enough just like a sheep .

Matthias Iscariot
Guest

Bullshit Steve. Looking at your page, it’s pretty evident you’re fucking racist.

Steve Millender
Guest

Separatist, Yes I am , Racist No, I believe every culture deserves its own homeland and village to grow in .

Enno Evers
Guest

In other words “Foreigners, get the fuck out of the lands and villages you’re not supposed to ‘grow’ in!” ?

Marek Žiška
Guest

>giving attention to people that dont even know how to use capital lettets

Y tho

Francis Cotton
Guest

Your ideology, even if we’re to buy into this ‘separatist’ bollocks, would necessarily involve ethnic cleansing. You are a racist fucking idiot.

Harry Bauer-Obstler
Guest

Ethnic Cleansing was a great band too.

Ian Borden
Guest

Hey Steve Millender, how does it feel to know that in 500 years everyone is going to be mixed race and that all cutlures and races originated in Africa? How about the idea that you can honor and respect your own and others cultures whitout separating them?

Ian Borden
Guest

Also you’re a dickneck.

Patrick Carabin Gardner
Guest

Ahhhh, fighting bigotry with bigotry. Awesome stuff.

Slade Garrett Croy
Guest

my children are pakistani,black,white and mexican. did i just accidentally a war?

Steve Millender
Guest

Look folks It is great you believe in what you believe in, I believe in what I believe in, Your opinions of me will never change what I believe in neither will the name calling and all other nonsense , just like I could sit here and say your all Leftists Pieces of shit , But I won’t because it would do no good . So thank you and Move on with your lives , I know I will. Hail Skrewdriver!!!

Tony Martin
Guest

Everyone has a right to their own beliefs. Some people just “hate” that.

David Marote
Guest

Christophe 😉