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Cock Sparrer

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One of the first Oi! bands, Cock Sparrer was playing loud, raw, Cockney working-class anthems as early as the first wave of British punk, although record company difficulties prevented them from issuing much material until the early ’80s, when the Oi!movement was well underway. The group formed in London’s East End in 1975, originally as a hard-edged pub rock combo in the vein of Dr. Feelgood. Four of the members — vocalist Colin McFaull, guitarist Mick Beaufoy, bassist Steve Burgess, and drummer Steve Bruce — had been schoolmates since age 11, and had been playing together in cover bands three years prior. They were joined by rhythm guitarist Gary Lammin (Burgess’ cousin), and soon began playing the Bridgehouse Pub in Canning Town on a regular basis. The emergence of the Sex Pistols presented an opportunity to further toughen up their sound, which sparked a brief interest from Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren that didn’t end up amounting to much. In 1977, Cock Sparrer signed with Decca Records (which had already landed another proto-Oi! band in Slaughter & the Dogs) and recorded their debut single, “Runnin’ Riot,” which was followed by a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “We Love You.” However, disagreements with Decca led to the sense that the band’s simple, basic, street-level sound wasn’t really understood; as a result, their self-titled debut was, for some reason, issued only in Spain. Lammin left the group to pursue an acting career not long after, and a frustrated Cock Sparrer went on an unofficial hiatus.

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