“Borstal Breakout”

SHAM 69 – “Borstal Breakout” / “Hey Little Rich Boy” (Polydor 2058 966) January 1978

Sham 69 “Borstal Breakout” – It wasn’t exactly Jailhouse Rock, but Sham 69’s major label debut, inspired by real-life absconders at nearby Feltham Borstal, was as close as Hersham, Surrey resident Jimmy Pursey was ever going to get.

Originally pencilled in for a John Cale production, the recording was eventually over-seen by Pursey himself, who created this Ramones-like burst of ramalama punk simplicity.

‘Borstal Breakout’ may have lacked the chart success of later working class yoof anthems like ‘If The Kids Are United’ and ‘Hersham Boys’, but it stands out as more spontaneous and less knowingly rabble-rousing, while also quite innocently predicting the aggressive proletarian punk-noise of Oi! music. (Mojo)

Surely, after all the suffering Pursey has handled at the scaly hands of the fans, he should be a little more aware how ’60s it is to go rabbling on in terms of the generation gap.

I can understand how he wants ‘If The Kids Are United’ to be recognised as the greatest youth anthem of all time – Scott McKenzie probably feels the same way about ‘If You’re Going To San Francisco’, Thunderclap Newman probably wants ‘Something In The Air’ to be taken up by Brutus Jeans or British Leyland for some TV advertising jingle – and does that make it less valid? I’ll say not!

“Hersham boys, Hersham boys
Laced up boots and corduroys.”

Jimmy Pursey

A self-conscious little barn-dance, the most strained good-time on any record heard this week. “They call us the Cockney Cowboys”. They do? Who? SURREY? COCKNEYS? It must have been a strong downwind in London the day the sound of the Bow Bells carried down to SURREY. (NME)

Boring is such a boring word to use when describing a single but I can’t think of anything else that would fit so well apart from zzzzzzzz (Record Mirror)

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