Review: Sham 69 – Who Killed Joe Public?

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Why? Why do the bands of yesteryear insist on never saying die? “There’s the scar of every sad has-been” says new singer Tim V on “Hall of Fame” and I can’t tell whether it’s said with irony or self-delusion. Sham 69 was a highly influential punk band from the 70s responsible for popularizing the use of football chants in their music and giving birth to the ‘Oi!’ subgenre. Now, however, they are merely a shadow of their former self.

The opening track, “Shout”, gave me hope that this album wouldn’t be all bad. It’s nothing original but it’s a fun, typical Oi! track with its football chant chorus and some decent melodic work. However, from then on, the punk rock tracks took a turn for the worse. Most of them are simply reminiscent of songs that were written by other bands to more successful effect. The instrumentals on “Skin and Bone” bring to mind the Sex Pistols’ “Silly Thing” except without the solidity; when V sings “whatever the weather, there’s no one better” it’s just laughable. “The Verdict Is Vengeance” spouts cliché, political punk lyrics in a weak performance. I think I even heard an imitation of the 60s Batman theme song on one track (wait, maybe that’s not such a bad thing).

Tim V is a very limited vocalist; I know it may sound strange saying that about a punk band because it’s pretty much expected but it shows on the less punk oriented tracks on the album. These tracks are some of the most baffling; such as the pop rock effort, “Then There Were None”, and the Beatle-esque, “Hall of Fame”. “The Last of London” is a reggae song that is much too long and has no real direction. V’s vocals sound especially weak spouting an attempted social commentary that just falls flat. Even the driving, punk closer, “Army of Tomorrow”, is ruined by lacking lyrics and melody despite some of the best instrumentals on the album.

There are some catchy hooks on the album but that’s all they really end up amounting to. Who Killed Joe Public? is the sound of a band that has very little left to offer. If you want to hear some good, old fashioned punk, don’t buy this; seek out some of Sham’s earliest work and see how they sounded in their glory days. (Vanilla OMP)

[xrr rating=1.5/5]

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    November 9, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    As an old friend once said to me 'opinions are like arse holes, everyone has one and they all stink'. So thanks for the review and, along with all the other more favourable ones, it will be saved for posterity. Objectivity is almost impossible to achieve even for a seasoned music reviewer, so we won't lose sleep over adverse comments. Those on the left love Sham, those on the right don't. We don't care, we have work, spirit, and an audience to sustain us. It's hard to die when driven by a passionate and endless supply of energy. By the way it's 'BEARS the scar' not 'THERE'S the scar'. I wrote the fucking masterpiece, and it will exist long after your review has made it's way to the bottom of the food chain.
    Ian Whitewood
    Sham 69

    • helena

      December 29, 2010 at 7:25 pm

      Kudos to you ian! Punk forever!! :D

    • keith

      May 14, 2011 at 10:57 pm

      its a fucking awsome cd

  2. Luke Seymoup

    November 10, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Well, first off I have to apologize for getting your lyrics wrong. There's no excuse for that.

    Still, however, I stand by my words wholeheartedly. In any form of art, there will be people who like your work and people who don't. As long as you're pleased with your work, my opinion is insignificant. I'm just one guy and it obviously won't impact at all on what you're doing, it's just my own personal taste. It does, however, take a certain amount of self-indulgence to write back to something like this. To me, punk rock is all about being yourself and not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks. If you really won't "lose sleep" over it, why be on the defensive?

  3. Gary J

    November 15, 2010 at 3:47 am

    i think the albums great! had the pleasure of supporting and watching them in Liverpool, i was too young to witness them in what you describe as "thier glory days" but i know a few things. for one Tim V shows more passion, commitment and energy than Percy ever did, his vocal style is what it is… Raw, ballsy and passionate, what more do you want??? how can it lack? he's in a Punk band not a backing singer for Etta James. The band as a whole are a relief to music, knowing theres a band out there that i'd actually still go to see, rather than most of these new Punk bands that do little to connect to my personal taste, Sham 69 are old school, straight to the point don't, no fucking around, no bullshiting.

    tell me luke, are you in a band, or just another one of these failures with no passion for what you do so you just thought you would be critical of other peoples work for what you wish you achieved, if the former, do give me the name.

    • Luke Seymoup

      November 15, 2010 at 12:13 pm

      It's interesting that you introduce the term "personal taste" when you're commenting on a review based entirely around my own personal taste. Surely there are records out there that you don't care for. Just because I don't care for it doesn't make this a bad album. It's just my opinion and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Hell, I'm just one kid starting out as a music critic. I haven't "been critical" because I'm a so called "failure". I've been critical because it's my job to express my own opinions.

      To be honest, I'm glad you enjoy the record. I'm glad you had the pleasure of supporting the band. Don't let anything I say taint that for you. Our own tastes are what make us unique.

  4. helena

    December 29, 2010 at 7:24 pm


  5. derek

    January 25, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    this was never going to have the same heart and soul without the irreplacable mr pursey,but this is a decent punk from an ageing punk punks not dead oi oi oi

  6. Doris

    February 2, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I can't believe i read that review right, 'Who Killed Joe Public' in my opinion is a brilliant album and the track 'And then there were none' in my opinion is one of the best written tracks i have heard for a long time. Tim is excellent on stage and gives it 100%, i just can't see how his vocals can be described as limited?
    I went to a lot of gigs in 2010 and Sham 69 was certainly in my top 3 and i look forward to seeing them in Crewe saturday week, maybe you should try them live to see just how good they are!

  7. Viktor Bermello

    May 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Este álbum es buenísimo! una maravilla! se ve que siguen vigentes y creando canciones muy buenas, decir lo contrario es una estupidez. Se nota que no tienes idea de lo que vale este disco. Podrías mejor dedicarte ha hablar de Justin Bieber o Shakira, ya que Sham 69 es Oi! es Leyenda y con este disco queda demostrado que su genialidad sigue en pie!

    Saludos Sham 69!

    Desde Santiago de Chile!

  8. keith

    May 14, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    this cd is f excellent, best for yrs thanks guys

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