Disc 1: “To Hell With The Boys”
1. “Sabre Dance” (Trad. Arr The Boys)
I was inspired to do a version of this movement after seeing a performance of it in Khachaturian’s 1942 ballet Gayane…only kidding! I loved Dave Edmunds’ version, which I had in my record collection, so I adapted it for The Boys. We’ve been using this track as our intro tape for many years.
2.“Rue Morgue” (Dangerfield) lead vocals: Duncan Reid
We originally recorded this at Rockfield in the summer of 1978 with a working title of “Epic” for the provisionally titled “Junk” album. NEMS Records didn’t pay for the recording sessions so the
tapes were withheld and the album subsequently abandoned. We re-recorded the song in Norway for “To Hell With The Boys” and I realise with hindsight that I’d got my dodgy French mixed up with my even dodgier Italian for the lyrics but who cares? I also added the “Pleasant Valley Sunday” guitar solo for this new recording – we used to play a version of “Pleasant Valley Sunday” in our early rehearsals.
3. “Terminal Love” (Plain) lead vocals: Duncan Reid
The Norwegian producer of “To Hell With The Boys”, Bjorn Nessjoe, didn’t like Duncan’s voice and insisted that I should sing all the lead vocals on the album. On returning to London however, I convinced Safari Records to let me do a re-mix of the album, and at the same time have Duncan add lead vocals to this track and “Rue Morgue”.
4. “See Ya Later” (Steel/Dangerfield) lead vocals: Matt Dangerfield
Another song rescued from the abandoned “Junk” sessions. On our earlier recordings I wrote a lot of the lyrics in the back of a taxi on route to the studio or in between takes. “See Ya Later” is one of the first songs where I found more time to spend on the lyrics.
5. “You Can’t Hurt A Memory” (Steel/Dangerfield) lead vocals: Matt Dangerfield
This song originated from Casino Steel, for the song’s lyrics I deliberately put a twist on Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arm Round A Memory” and I also pitched the song so it would be a strain on my voice and push it to the edge of cracking. One of my blues heroes John Mayall happened to be in Trondheim for a gig and agreed to play harmonica on this track and “Lonely Cowboy” for a bottle of vodka!
6. “Kamikaze” (Plain) lead vocals: Honest John Plain
Also originating from the “Junk” sessions it was first titled “Norton” and later “Jap Junk”. It was revisited and re-titled once again as “Kamikaze” for “To Hell With The Boys”. This song marks the first time Honest John Plain took lead vocal duty in The Boys.
7. “Lonely Cowboy” (Dangerfield) lead vocals: Matt Dangerfield
Another song where I had more time to work on the lyrics. I had previously created this guitar solo whilst helping out on a recording of “Manhattan Girls” with Duncan’s old school friend Jim Penfold’s band Hollywood Killers and I decided to revamp it on this track.
8. “Waiting For The Lady” (Penfold/Reid) lead vocals: Matt Dangerfield
In March 1979, I went along to Matrix Studios in London together with Duncan and Jack to help their old school friend Jim Penfold lay down some tracks. As Jim himself recalls: “We recorded ‘Waiting For The Lady’, ‘Rain Island’, ‘Manhattan Girls’ and ‘Leave Me’. It was a great session with Duncan and Jack playing excellent bass and drums and Matt firing on all cylinders. I wish I’d recorded more of my songs with them! I’m hoping to release these recordings this year. I was very pleased when The Boys recorded their own great version of the song on ‘To Hell With The Boys’. I remember Paul Burnett playing it on Radio 1 and commenting that it sounded like the Beatles…music to my ears.”
9. “Bad Day” (Steel/Dangerfield) lead vocals: Matt Dangerfield
Another song originating from Casino for “Junk”. By this time we were experimenting with some new rhythms and this seemed to work well. We created this shorter, snappier version for “To Hell With The Boys”.
10. “Independent Girl” (Steel/Dangerfield) lead vocals: Matt Dangerfield
The lyrics are at least partly a tongue-in-cheek dig at my fashion model girlfriend at the time who was living in a parallel universe between her up-market fashion scene and my scruffy punk rock world.
Disc 2 “Boys Only”
1. “Weekend” (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
This song stood out in the “Boys Only” sessions as being the track everyone agreed should be the first single. It was UK Radio 1 Peter Powell’s Single of the Week on its release in October 1980. The video was produced by Stephen Waldorf, who was riddled with bullets a couple of years later by Metropolitan Police Officers when they mistook him for a wanted cop killer! I’ve always hated the video as we’d been drinking copious amounts of alcohol when the stage sequences were shot – and it shows. The video was aired on Noel Edmunds Saturday morning BBC 1 television show.
2. “Wrong Arm Of The Law” (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
By this time we were moving away from basic punk songs and were writing and developing more diverse material. The vocal phrasing in particular on this song is influenced by my love of Bob Dylan.
3. “Poor Little Rich Girl” (Plain/Black) lead vocal: Duncan Reid
Written by Honest John Plain and our drummer Jack Black. Campino (the lead singer from top German band Die Toten Hosen) told me that this was his favourite song from the album when it first came out.
4. “Monotony” (Plain) lead vocal: Honest John Plain
We mixed two versions of Monotony, one with Duncan singing lead vocal and one with John. The band voted to use John’s lead vocal on the album although Duncan sang it on the few occasions we played it live.
5. “Nothing Ventured” (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
I remember this most of all for the duelling guitar solos in the middle because John and I were arguing about where to start and end each alternating lick. So it did become a properly angry duelling guitars solo. I play the opening lick, then John and so on.
6. “Wonderful World” (Campbell/Alder/Adler) lead vocal: Honest John Plain
This Sam Cooke classic might have been covered by many major artists including Otis Redding, Art Garfunkel and Johnny Nash ect, but that didn’t deter us from recording our take on the song.
7. “Scrubber” (Plain) lead vocal: Honest John Plain
“What Can I Do” was the first song John wrote back in Leeds after being inspired by my prolific song writing brother, who was also a major influence on me. It was left shelved for many years before John gave it a guitar riff, wrote some new lyrics and it became “Scrubber”.
8. “Satisfaction Guaranteed” (Black) lead vocal: Duncan Reid
Jack was immensely proud of this song and also the fact that it’s since been used as the title of a Boys’ compilation and a Boys’ tribute album.
9. “Gabrielle” (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
I recall laying down the lead vocal in Olympic Studios with the sun streaming through a high window and realising that this was going to be a great track. With Casino Steel no longer in the band it meant there was a lot more work for me, Duncan & John to do to build up the backing vocals on “Boys Only”.
10. “Miss You” (Plain/Black) lead vocal: Honest John Plain
Jack Black and Honest John Plains’ second co-written song on the album is a tribute to John Wayne, one of their shared heroes.
11. “Little White Lifeline” (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
I love the spur-of-the-moment manic lead break (inspired by Frank Zappa) which, try as I might, I could never play again! Strangely enough this song works really well when we include it in our occasional acoustic shows.
12. “Let It Rain” (Steel/Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
Originally laid down as an unfinished backing track provisionally titled “Well, Well, Well” during the “Junk” sessions, it had always been one of my favourites. I loved the sound and atmosphere of the track and added the cryptic lyrics shortly before the recording for “Boys Only”. It was released as the second single from the album. I particularly remember layering up all the harmonies at what used to be called Island Studios just off the Portobello Road when producer Nick Tauber kept encouraging me to add more and more backing vocals, I was at it for at least half a day!
Disc 3: Rarities
1. “Schoolgirls” (Steel/Dangerfield/Plain)
lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield & Casino Steel
This song was written when we were invited to provide an original new tune for a children’s television programme exploring how records were made. Unsurprisingly, the television station deemed “Schoolgirls” unsuitable and it was never used! The song didn’t go to waste however, as it eventually ended up as the b-side of “You Better Move On”. We recorded it at a small studio in Brixton where the engineer told me the song reminded him of his old band from the 60s. He turned out to be Eddy Grant and was surprised to learn I both knew and liked The Equals.
2. “Jap Junk” (Plain) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
This rough mix version was recorded at Pye Studios as a potential single but eventually shelved. The original working title of the song was “Norton” and in the end it became “Kamikaze”. I love the Velvet Underground-ish drums on this and the Stax-style brass build up at the end.
3. “See Ya Later” 1978 demo (Steel/Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
Recorded at Rockfield in the summer of 1978 for what was to be The Boys third NEMS album provisionally entitled “Junk”, which was never completed. Fortunately, I had some monitor mixes on cassette and this is one of those. It was the first time we recorded this song and it’s interesting to hear a guitar solo instead of the later organ solo.
4. “Cry Tomorrow” Unreleased 1979 Norwegian demo (Plain) lead vocal: Honest John Plain
In early 1979, while recording the “To Hell With The Boys” album, Cas, John and myself went into a back room at Nidaros Studio in Trondheim to make some demos of older songs we’d never released to see if any of them could be used on the album. It features Cas on Piano and John and myself on guitars and was recorded on a quarter-inch reel-to-reel. In the end none of the songs ended up on the album but someone in Norway recently found this tape and sent it to us and we were impressed at the quality of the recordings.
5. “Love In Pain” Unreleased 1979 Norwegian demo (Steel/Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
I’m not sure how the “First time”ish subject matter in this song would be received in today’s ever more Woke world, but it sounds great.
6. “Schooldays” Unreleased 1979 Norwegian demo (Steel/Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield We made a few demos of this song but this particular version has never been released before.
7. “You Can Give It” Unreleased 1979 Norwegian demo (Walker) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
This song was written years earlier by my older brother whose gift for song writing inspired me to write songs. The Boys always loved this song and although we recorded it several times, we never managed to fit it onto any official Boys’ release.
8. “Terminal Love” Original mix (Plain) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
This is the original Bjorn Nessjoe produced version of the song. Bjorn didn’t like Duncan’s voice and insisted I sing all the lead vocals on “To Hell With The Boys”. When we later remixed the album, I added a new Duncan lead vocal on this and “Rue Morgue”. This original mix of Terminal Love was recently used as the opening song on the soundtrack for “Sad Vacation” the Danny Garcia film about Sid & Nancy.
9. “Rue Morgue” Original mix (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
Another original mix from “To Hell With The Boys” produced by Bjorn Nessjoe, which has me singing the lead vocal.
10. “Kamikaze” Single version (Plain) lead vocal: Honest John Plain
After a comprehensive remix this was the first single from “To Hell With The Boys”. As the song references a Norton motorbike, we contacted the UK Norton Owners Club and a bunch of them rode down to meet us at a motorway stop for us to do a photo shoot for the single cover with their bikes.
11. “Terminal Love” Single version (Plain) lead vocal: Duncan Reid
This was remixed with a Duncan lead vocal added and was the second single from “To Hell With The Boys”
12. “I Love Me” (Steel/Dangerfield) lead vocal: Duncan Reid
Originally recorded for the abandoned “Junk” album this version was recorded specifically to be the b-side of “Terminal Love”. The overloaded guitar-led ending as it leads into a take on the Rolling Stones “We Love You” is one of my favourite bits of all Boys recordings. It was normal for us to pilfer bits of music from our musical heroes in many of our songs in the hope that they would sue us. We figured what we might lose in songwriting royalties on the song would be offset by lots of great publicity, but sadly nobody’s sued us. Yet…
13. “You Better Move On” (Alexander) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
This is the first of three songs that we recorded in Marquee Studios in 1980. John had covered “You Better Move On” with The Lurkers and suggested that we record a version. I only knew the Stones version of the song and would normally have been reluctant to cover any Stones recording. But thanks to the weak and muddy Andrew Loog Oldham-produced Stones EP version I decided we could make a better job of it. It was recorded at Marquee Studios and I remember adding the whistling parts was the trickiest part of the recording as your mouth keeps drying up so you had to keep ‘wetting your whistle’ as they say. After it was released as a single we had to hire a private plane to fly to Germany and back midway through a French tour in 1980 in order to appear on German music television programme Musik Laden.
14. “Walk My Dog” (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
This song was recorded in Marquee studios in February 1980 at the same session as “You Better Move On” and “Jimmy Brown”. We booked the session to try out possibilities for a new single so when “You Better Move On” was chosen, this song and “Jimmy Brown” were shelved until they turned up on our outtakes and unreleased “Odds and Sods” album curated by Campino, lead singer with top German Band Die Toten Hosen, a decade later.
15. “Jimmy Brown” (Steel) lead vocal: Duncan Reid
I’ve always liked this song but see it as unfinished. The high backing vocals were sung by Cas along with the then girl receptionist at Marquee Studios, whose name I can’t recall. I liked that The Boys always did their own backing vocals and harmonies ala The Beatles and if we had revisited the song I would have wanted to change that. I was also not happy with the lyrics and would have pushed to change or improve those. Finnish punk band Pojat recorded a Finnish language version of the song that went to Number One there and spent 20 weeks in the singles Top 20 in 1992. It was also recorded by Michael Monroe.
16. “Little Runaround” 1980 demo (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
We went into the studio with our favourite engineer Mike Pela to try out new tracks for the “Boys Only” album. On this song I wanted to have this style guitar rhythm on the song. I couldn’t keep it up myself for longer than 10-20 seconds, but I knew John would do it no problem. John is a great guitarist but he’s a world- class rhythm guitarist.
17. “Weekend” 1980 demo (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
We usually knocked out these demos in super quick time, maybe 20-30 minutes per song, and quite often, as with this track, it was the first time the rest of the band had heard the song. The best thing for me about this band was that I’d only need to run through a song once or twice and John, Duncan and Jack would know exactly how to play it and very little would need changing.
18. “Let It Rain” 1980 demo (Steel/Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
On these pre-album demos, we didn’t spend too much time on overdubs or mistakes. Although this song had been around since the abandoned “Junk” album in 1978, now it had some lyrics for the first time.
19. “Nothing Ventured” 1980 demo (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
Not having heard this since…1980 probably…I notice it has slightly different lyrics from the eventual album version, which shows it was a work in progress.
20. “Wrong Arm Of The Law” 1980 demo (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
Another song the band is probably hearing for the first time but instinctively knowing how to tackle it. John is so comfortable with the track he’s overplaying it a bit with the guitar licks but that will get toned down on the album version.
21. “Cool” (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
An early Boys song that never really achieved it’s full potential – eventually ending up as the b-side to “Weekend”.
22. “Lucy” (Steel/Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
This was one of the first songs that Casino and I wrote together. It had a few early live outings but was then put on the shelf. We’d occasionally get it out, dust it off and then put back on the shelf again and it was never properly recorded until “Boys Only” when it became the b-side of “Let It Rain”. I’ve always loved this song.
Disc 4 THE YOBS ON SAFARI
NEMS Records should rightly take the blame for The Yobs. While we were signed to them I rang up our favourite rehearsal studio one day to book some time for The Boys only to be told I couldn’t because NEMS hadn’t paid the bill for our last session. I got Honest John to call up 20 minutes later to book us in as The Yobs…Sorted!
Soon afterwards we decided to make a Christmas record – a punked-up version of Chuck Berry’s “Run Run Rudolf”. But as we didn’t want it to be an official Boys’ release, we pulled out the The Yobs card again and made it their debut release.
1. “Rub A Dum Dum” (Davis) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
This is The Yobs’ irreverent take on “Little Drummer Boy”. It’s my all-time favourite Christmas song, which is probably why we didn’t desecrate it as much as we did other beloved seasonal classics.
2. “The Ballad Of The Warrington” (Dangerfield/Plain) lead vocal: Jack Black
We heavily based (shamelessly ripped off) this on the Jim Reeves classic “Blizzard” which tells the heart- wrenching tale of a traveller and his beloved pony battling through a ferocious snowstorm to get to his sweetheart Marianne and (check out the Jim Reeves original) her hot biscuits!
3. “Another Christmas” (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
This Yobs original was the b-side of “Rub a Dum Dum”. Although it’s an anti-Christmas song The Yobs actually love Christmas as they wouldn’t have existed without it.
4. “Doggy” (Merrill) lead vocal: Humphrey
Featuring Safari CEO John Craig’s cocker spaniel and honorary Yob, Humphrey. “How Much is That Doggy in The Window” is not actually a Christmas tune it’s true, but it was the only song he knew.
5. “Jingle Bells” (Trad. Arr The Yobs) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
Another Christmas Classic gets all the joy mercilessly kicked out of it by The Yobs. I was imagining how then top pop person Gary Newman and his ilk might have tackled this cheerfully upbeat ditty.
6. “Auld Lang Syne” (Trad. Arr The Yobs) lead vocals: All
Traditional New Year song given a right proper Yob-over. It starts off relatively sedately but gets progressively more manic – pretty much like the average New Years Eve really.
7. “Silent Night” (Trad. Arr The Yobs) lead vocal: Honest John Plain
Sung in German
The Yobs second single was recorded while we were in dispute with our first record company NEMS and pressed without their knowledge by a bootlegger I knew so we could get a bit of money for Christmas. The original single featured John on lead vocal. This album version is actually a re-recording of “Stille Nacht” and I played the opening piano deliberately badly a la Les Dawson – at least that’s my excuse. To get the German lyrics I phoned a German girl I knew (she found them in her German hymn book!) and I jotted the words down phonetically. John was definitely the right person to sing this one.
8. “Silver Bells” (Livingston/Evans) lead vocal: Duncan Reid
A favourite of Jack’s, this is a version of another Jim Reeves’ song with a few minor lyrical embellishments (both Jack and John were big Jim Reeves fans).
9. “C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S” (Trad. Arr The Yobs) lead vocal: Jack Black
The special lyrics were written during the recording of the album. Jack was given his second outing on lead vocals and what a good job he makes of it. WARNING: Crude content! Any offence was intended
10. “Gloria” (Trad. Arr The Yobs) lead vocals: All
Suggested for inclusion by Safari’s John Craig who, quite rightly, thought that the Yobs would make a suitable dog’s dinner of the choruses. As with many of the songs on this album, all The Yobs plus roadies, engineers, record company people, tape ops, visiting friends and pizza delivery boys were enlisted for the choruses
11. “Twelve Days Of Christmas” (Trad. Arr The Yobs) lead vocal: Duncan Reid
The new lyrics were written during the recording session. Duncan takes lead vocals with a little help from the Yob Choir. WARNING: Crude content! Any offence was intended.
12. “White Christmas” (Berlin) lead vocal: Mike Pela
I phoned up our favourite recording engineer Mike Pela from Power Plant Studios and like the good sport he is, he kindly popped in to sing the Rasta part as well as playing the keyboards. WOKE WARNING: There was no ‘blackface’ whatever used in the making of this track and no offence was intended.
13. “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” (Trad. Arr The Yobs) lead vocal: Mike Pela
Duncan sings the Chinese vocals with Jack singing the Jewish vocals and Mike Pela singing the Indian vocals. John finishes the song off with another rousing Yobbish vocal performance. WOKE WARNING: This song was created in fun, No offence was intended to the Chinese, Indians, Jews or even Yobs!
14. “May The Good Lord Bless & Keep You’ (Trad. Arr The Yobs) lead vocal: Honest John Plain
Duncan plays the opening guitar part and laughs at the end of it. Feel free to laugh at it too. He’d never played it before but it seemed the Yobbish thing to do! John sings the lead vocal a la Sid Vicious.
15. “Rub A Dum Dum” Single version (Davis) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield
Being one of the few Yobs songs remotely suitable for radio, we decided to release this as a single in 1979
16. “Another Christmas” Single version (Dangerfield) lead vocal: Matt Dangerfield This track was the b-side of “Rub A Dum Dum” and was recorded in the same session.
17. “Yobs On 45” (Trad. Arr The Boys) lead vocals: Matt Dangerfield, Honest John Plain & Mike Pela
The Yobs fourth single was a musical collage using snippets of Yobs songs. John and myself were the only Yobs involved although honorary Yobs including engineer Mike Pela and a few other friends came along to lend a hand. Originally we intended to splice segments of the original recordings together but that proved too difficult so we re-recorded all the song sections strung together in one take. I took a cassette of the track to Fresh Records the next day but just after the opening “one, two. three, four” played on their hi-fi, the speakers fell off the shelf and broke. Luckily, I had a walkman with me so the Fresh head honcho listened to it on that and signed it up after one listen. Only 200 copies were pressed.