The tragic mystery of the Redskins, or: No socialism in our time

Culture, European culture(s)

One way in which this age of Google and Wikipedia is different from that of decades past is that even the most obscure names live on forever, remaining forever a mouseclick away. How many times haven’t you thought, “hey, I wonder whatever happened to..”: fill in the name of an old acquaintance, a long-forgotten band, a football star of yore? In previous eras, you’d spend that wistful thought on it, and then by necessity shrug it off. Who knows?

Well, now you too can know. That obscure new wave band? The singer writes songs for TV shows now; the bassist works as a market salesman. That ridiculous Eurovision Songfestival contestant? He’s online now, editing his own Wikipedia entry and touting the brilliancy of his performance on specialist web forums. And a surprising number of tragic endings… one moment you’re listening to a song by The Sound that happened to pass by on last.fm, the next you’re looking up their bio and find out that the singer committed suicide, and his band mate died of AIDS.

So who remembers the Redskins? They were a punk band in the early eighties, and they were as political as could be. Committed to the revolution, they played every benefit gig, in support of the miners’ strike, against racism, against apartheid, you name it. They were Billy Bragg’s little skinhead brothers. They threw in pop and soul too if that enabled them to reach a wider audience with their message: “think the Jam, the Clash, the Specials, Dexy’s, the Fall and the Supremes all rolled into one,” as a retrospective review put it.

Their second single, Lean On Me, was dubbed “a love song to workers solidarity” and “a modern soul classic” by the NME. They even had some minor top 50 hits. Keep On Keepin’ On! reached #43 in the UK charts in 1984; Bring It Down (This Insane Thing) reached #33 the year after. The Redskins, concludes fan Dave T. on the unofficial band website redskins.co.uk, “were the first band to bring revolutionary socialism to the dancefloor.”

But when you wonder whatever happened with them, the story you find is rather tragic, and something of an allegory for an entire political culture which they, in their way, represented.

Their songs sure were rousing. I taped an album of theirs when I was in high school – the only album they ever released, I learned just now thanks to Wikipedia. It had Unionise (“Stop! Strike! Unionise!”). It had Red Strikes the Blues. And the message was simple:

Well all this talk of fighting back
Is talk to be ignored
If we don’t know where our power lies
And utilize the tools we’ve got
The bosses have the money
And the workers have no rights
But our muscle is our labour

“Our muscle is our labour”? Yes, really. In their defense, it sounds better when sung.

Were they taken seriously? Well, as much as Billy was, I suppose, if less well known. They were instrumental in inspiring the red-skin movement – left-wing skinheads. No arty-farty intellectualism for them: workerism was the word, and singer Chris Dean “recognised [skinheads] as a genuinely proletarian youth cult”. Tracing the skinhead look back to the unemployed youth of the turn of the century, Drummer Paul Hookham identified it as “a symbol of frustrated, angry, disenfranchised youth,” which has “never … been solely a uniform of the right wing youth”.

Their short spell of cult fame coincided with the massive and traumatic miners’ strike of 1984-85 (see also these still fearsomely polarised personal recollections), for which it provided a soundtrack of sorts. The redskins.co.uk site, set up by fan “Bazza”, recounts how the band appeared on The Tube, only to stop playing their songs midway and instead hand the microphone to a striking miner to give a speech.

They were practical about it and organisationally involved: singer Chris Dean, Dave adds, “was instrumental in helping with the Wake Up miners benefit EP (offering, without the knowledge or consent of their record company, what was to be their last single [..]) and he helped set up contacts to make sure the money raised from the project was put to the best practical use.”

Their politics were radical. Bassist Martin Hewes also went under the names Martin Militant and Martin Leon. Dean and Hewes were members of the notorious Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the most powerful splinter force within far-left British politics.

Trots, then. Committed Trots, too. Their first single was called Lev Bronstein, no less – that’s Trotsky’s real name. The lyrics?

Russia is a man who turned into stone his is a sad history
There was another man who fought along and left a legacy
The lesson never learned the passion killed by state bureaucracy
The other man killed too & so fulfilled his tragic prophesy

No “I love you, yeah yeah yeahs” here, obviously: these were guys steeped in doctrinary ideology. They lambasted Neil Kinnock for gradually steering the British Labour Party to a more moderate course after the far-left 1983 election platform (“the longest suicide note in history”, as Gerald Kaufman famously dubbed it) resulted in electoral disaster. They ruffled feathers, notes the fansite:

Few bands have suffered so much critical flak and .. abuse as the Redskins. Their opponents came not just from the right but from the left too. The Redskins’ politics were not some rock ‘n’ roll pose; they Really Meant It Man, and many people from all political backgrounds found that unpalatable.

To their credit, they stood tall for their ideals. They were attacked by white power skinheads, Wikipedia notes (wielding bike chains, Bazza adds), when they performed at the free Greater London Council-sponsored Jobs for a Change festival.

Now there’s a sentence that just radiates retro. Skinheads. The GLC, then locked in a battle with Thatcher, under the leadership of “Red Ken” Livingstone. (When London finally got a unitary administration again a decade and a half later and Ken was promptly elected mayor, his opening words on election night were, “As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted fourteen years ago..”). A local authority that would organise free festivals under a banner like “Jobs for a Change”. The unemployment of those days. The lengthening dole lines, Thatcher’s first years. Alexei Sayle’s bitter humor about it on the telly. As an old punk on able2know.com reminisced about the olden days in Manchester, “back then the city seemed to match the punk scene (grey, gritty and urban)”.

It was a different time. A time in which releasing an album called “Neither Washington Nor Moscow” did not seem weird. A time of a vibrant counterculture spanning, if never quite uniting, punks and squatters, aging intellectuals and the last, shrinking generation of militant dock and steel workers and miners. Where a hundred splintering sectarian groups of socialists, communists and anarchists each hawked their own stenciled newspapers.

Were they misled, misguided? Maybe. Did they do harm? Not much, being firmly entrenched into marginal opposition. But what they did bring was a thoroughly ideological analysis of what was wrong with the world and what should be done about it. Debates raged about variations of ideology, and dogmatism made many meetings hell, and stifled much activist creativity. The smoke-filled halls were hotbeds of contention and machine politics; in equally smoky evening meetings, party members trumped each other on points of ideological doctrine. And yet it’s easy to feel nostalgic for the width and depth of leftist politics that existed then, and the way leftists were still able to frame their criticism of rightwing politics as part of a comprehensive alternative ideology.

In comparison, today’s leftwingers seem innovative and creative on the one hand, but on the other also shallow and a little hapless. They know what they’re against, and they have a hundred individual little ideas for a policy here, a new project there. But they no longer have a structured, cohesive alternative to present against the dominant market ideology, and they are thus forever just tinkering with the status quo. There doesn’t seem to hardly be any belief anymore that things can be fundamentally different from how they are now. The economic principles of neoliberalism have become “laws of economics”, givens, which at best you can manoeuvre around and correct.

Twentieth century socialism lacks answers to many of the economic features of today’s globalised world. Not to even talk about the horrific consequences of the communist delusion, the greatest or second greatest of all twentieth century miscreations. (The burden of which Trots like the Redskins slipped out from purely thanks to Trotsky’s early death: there’s good reason to assume that a Soviet Union led by Trotsky rather than Stalin would have resulted in mass murder all the same.)

But conversely, it’s easy to feel a stifling hopelessness today, when the flaws of the free market ideology are as clear as they’ve ever been the last fifty years, with escalating inequality and dismantled safety nets, and yet there is no fundamental, comprehensive alternative anymore to build your hopes or dreams around. Social-democrats have long embraced Blairite neoliberal recipes. Greens are middle class interest groups that care more about bicycle paths than cheap housing. Smaller socialist parties like the German Linke, the Dutch Socialist Party or the British Respect engage in hybrid populisms, ad hoc responses on a purely national basis. Lacking an overarching ideological world view, there’s forever a drift, which frees the left from stifling dogma but reduces it to a purely reactive force, a collection of one-issue causes.

Which invokes the question, whatever happened to the Redskins, since those days of rock-ribbed socialist conviction? How did they fare, as times changed?

Well, things did not go well. Their story almost reads like a allegory of sorts. After Bring It Down’s Top 40 score, their single The Power Is Yours (“a despondent but undefeated look back in anger at the miners strike,” Bazza calls it) reached #59. Then, It Can Be Done stalled at #76. In a 1986 interview, Dean at times sounded demoralized:

We’ve had a bit of a crisis after the Miners’ Strike as we saw audiences dropping. Thousands during the strike and now 500-600. There were some rock’n’ roll problems with the label and promotion and so on. But a large part of it was the end of the strike. During the strike for a year I never thought, ‘what are we doing’. It was obvious, now that is different. [..]

We are now a pop band and it has limitations [..]. [Something] we’ve talked about with Socialist Worker [..] is that the contradictions are becoming more and more acute. It may well come to a point where we have to give it up. [..]

A lot of people have had grand ideas of Punk. People had a romantic idea that music could change the world and all sorts of farcical and ridiculous ideas, like music on its own is so powerful, but it is not. It is incredibly bloody weak. It is only when it is linked to political struggle like during the Miners’ Strike that it really starts to mean anything. [..]

[A]t our gigs [..] during the Miners’ Strike [you’d] have stalls by the Miner support groups, Women Against Pit closures would have a stall, Labour had stalls, the SWP had a stall, there were Socialist Worker sellers outside. The whole atmosphere was right and it worked, it was not an odd thing to do. You could do it now and it would seem like overkill. If we had people trying to recruit people for the SWP it’d be terrible, people would be turned away. [..]

At the moment, because working class people aren’t really fighting, the Redskins is very much abstract propaganda. It’s like firing shots in the dark.

The band split up the same year. It could not be done, Dean concluded: “It became harder and harder to be a member of the Socialist Workers Party and the Redskins. The group was out of time, out of date and out of step with the political reality of Britain in 1986”. The band did a last tour of Europe, playing a festival in Belgium, a concert in Munich and five gigs in Italy, two of which at festivals organised by the communist newspaper L’Unita. Then they split up, leaving behind, Bazza writes, “a debt of £136,000 and their unfulfilled fantasy of revolution intact.”

Hewes became a motorcycle courier, and later a music teacher. Dean “appeared in a student version of Trevor Griffiths’ play Oi! For England at London’s Central School of Speech & Drama”, Wikipedia notes — and then disappeared, “taking up a reclusive life in Paris starting in 1988”. Bazza again:

After the Redskins split Chris Dean put together a new band under the name of P-Mod. Not much is known about P-Mod but they did record some studio demos. After P-Mod Chris disappeared to France. Martin Hewes [..] played in the band Raj & The Magitones who released 1 track called “It’s A Funny Old World” [..]. Paul Hookham joined the electric folk group Barely Works. [..] As for Chris Dean there has been very few sightings of him since the late 80’s.

A tribute album was released in 2005 on the obscure Red Star Recordings label, with seventeen covers by bands significantly more obscure still than the Redskins ever were. A 2006 fanzine review pleaded for Dean to resurface:

After they disbanded rumour had it that they had recorded a follow-up [..] but whether this is true remains a mystery to this day. It was whispered that Dean had become a journalist in Paris and since then little has been seen or heard. If anyone who knows where he is happens to be reading this- tell Mr.Dean that his efforts were not in vain.

But the last punk poet Attila The Stockbroker heard, Dean’s now “back in York, living as a recluse with his mum”. Bazza’s Redskins website hasnt been updated since 2006 – the only thing that’s still added is the occasional comradely comment from around the world on the guestbook. The site’s tagline is “Memories of years gone by, dashed hopes and a dream that died.”

Earlier this year, Guardian journalist John Harris interviewed Tory MP Ed Vaizey. Vaizey was a self-described “ardent Thatcherite” in the eighties, who had initially “assumed that everyone in Britain admired Mrs Thatcher in much the same awestruck terms as he did”. That didnt stop him from getting into all the lefty protest bands:

Vaizey reels off an impressive list of his 80s leftwing favourites. As well as Bragg and his fellow Red Wedgers Madness, he recalls seeing the Redskins (“a fantastic band”), and the words “Fuck Geoffrey Howe” being bellowed from the stage; he still treasures a vinyl copy of their sole album Neither Washington Nor Moscow – strap-lined, in keeping with a Socialist Workers party slogan, “but international socialism”.

“I had to lead this double life,” he says. “[..] I thought Thatcher was fantastic, and I was listening to a lot of bands saying she was destroying the country. I suppose I like passion, in politics and music, and these were the passionate bands who were around.”

“Trying to get to the heart of all these contradictions,” Harris suggested that Vaizey “could blithely ignore their messages because his side of politics had the upper hand. Answered Vaizey:

“I think that’s a very good way of looking at it,” he says. “People could do all this ranting from the stage, but you knew it wasn’t going to change the tide of history.”

In Unionise, Dean sang:

We can talk of riots and petrol bombs
And revolutions all day long
But if we fail to organise
We’ll waste our lives on protest songs

Today it seems he was as prophetic as he feared.

81 Comments

81 Comments

  1. Bazza  •  Oct 8, 2008 @2:04 am

    Nice blog. Just one thing the Redskins site is ran by me & not Dave T. Dave T did the Wake Up fanzine and website and also put out the Wake Up EP/CD which featured the Redskins version of ‘Levi Stubbs Tears’. Reminds me that I need to update the Redskins site when I get the chance and also add some more Redskins videos to YouTube now that they’ve taken away the 100mb limit. Still looking for the ‘Peasant Army’ video thought. Don’t suppose you have a copy?

  2. nimh  •  Oct 8, 2008 @11:34 am

    Hey Bazza, thanks for the shout-out! I’ll correct the blog to reflect that its you not Dave T. who does the site.

    No copy of the vid I’m afraid…

  3. jon  •  Apr 30, 2009 @2:43 am

    Hey, you should check out the cover of Unionise made by the Basque band Negu Gorriak in their 1996 album “Salam Agur”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negu_Gorriak

  4. nimh  •  May 7, 2009 @1:36 am

    Sounds interesting, thanks Jon!

  5. Bazza  •  Aug 10, 2009 @4:44 pm

    The Negu Gorriak track was also included on the Redskins tribute album ‘Reds Strike The Blues’ and it’s one of my faves from the album. Here is a video of the song from YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3hZhvaEzQc

  6. Richard  •  Jan 8, 2010 @5:26 pm

    We need Chris Dean back, it’s not all over, the fight is on.

  7. Pinkney  •  Jan 12, 2010 @2:59 pm

    The redskins, they are still important now. i INTEND to send thier message in my own music.
    I’m currently recording a version of lean on me and Stings we work the black seam together.
    Its great to see people havn’t forgotten one of the most underrated acts of all time.

    I wasn’t even there.
    I’m only 23.

    If i can appreciate it many others can and will.

  8. nimh  •  Jan 16, 2010 @3:40 pm

    Richard – yeah. {nods}. As Steve Earle sang in Christmas in Washington, “So come back, Emma Goldman / Rise up, old Joe Hill..”

    Pinkney – that’s great! So encouraging to hear that people of a whole new generation find out about this music, and are inspired by it to make their own … more power to you! Hope your music will find an appreciative audience, and that you’ll be getting the message out.. all the best!

  9. Maggieland  •  Apr 23, 2010 @8:22 am

    it CAN (still) be done-disenfranchised people all over the world need a band to sing our anthem…. IT CAN BE DONE! OUR MUSCLE IS OUR LABOUR!!!

  10. John Fleming  •  May 9, 2010 @5:04 pm

    I interviewed the Redskins with a couple of pals one early morning in Dublin’s Dun Laughaire back in 1985 or 1986. They were set to take the boat back to Holyhead after a gig the night before in McGonagles. All of the band were lucid and articulate, friendly and happy to talk as they ate their breakfasts. As X Moore, Chris Dean was also a fine NME writer – he once described Buster Bloodvessel as looking as if “he had been poured into his trousers but someone forgot to say ‘when'”. A great and vital band. Kick over the statues…

  11. Eddie B  •  Oct 27, 2010 @10:40 am

    Great Blog. I’m reading it as I listen to the album.

    I hope Chris is well – His music is still inspiring my own socialism.

  12. Ida  •  Feb 4, 2011 @10:14 am

    I almost cried when I read this piece. How different everything was back then. The idea that there could actually be another way,a way to live with dignity. A decent world, not this disgusting ‘robbing from the poor to give to the rich’world that we live in now.
    And how could someone with Chris Dean’s obvious passion just disappear and….what? What IS Chris Dean doing now?-that was what I typed into Google and that’s how I came upon this blog entry that really made me feel heartbroken.
    Like we could have had something better than this and we lost it…
    Thanks for posting this.

  13. Very informative post, we have a good value recording studio in manchester so if anyone needs anything recording it might be an option.

  14. Attila  •  Dec 23, 2011 @9:24 am

    Great piece. And times are changing. More than 50% of people all over Eastern Europe think they were better off under communism than they are now. Everyone had a home, a job, heating, lighting, educatiuon, health care…and those are the things that matter. Time we stopped apologising!

  15. Pete S  •  Feb 26, 2012 @3:22 pm

    What a great band,saw ’em twice and they were awesome.Come back Chris Dean,your needed now.

  16. Bob E K  •  Apr 13, 2012 @3:10 am

    Like Ida, moved nearly to tears by the memories what the Redskins stood for and what has happened since. I saw them play a couple of times – fantastic. Times seem so different now, but Attila is right, never give in to pessimism, things can change quickly, didn’t someone tell us to ‘Keep on Keeping On’?

  17. Bec  •  Jun 1, 2012 @5:27 pm

    Loved the album when it came out – and I love it even more today. A long lost love introduced me to the Redskins in ’84 and for that I will be eternally grateful to him – thanks Dan! Can’t believe Chris Dean/X Moore (don’t forget what a vibrant writer he was – the NME dulled when he stopped contributing) has silenced himself when surely he still must have so much to say, and so many people want to hear him.

    I think what gets overlooked is that even if you replaced all the Redskins lyrics with ‘la la la hello birds and trees’ lyrics, they would *still* be a fucking great soul band. Their music was EPIC and this gets lost because everyone focuses on the content of the lyrics and overlooks the musicianship. The rhythms, the horns, it’s all so incredibly fucking funky and I can’t believe they only ever gave us one album. Plus it was epic to fuck to. Like I said, thanks Dan. Happy days.

  18. Chris  •  Jun 21, 2012 @4:02 pm

    All things are possible.

  19. The Duchess  •  Aug 2, 2012 @8:04 am

    Chris. That’s you, ain’t it?

  20. nimh  •  Aug 2, 2012 @10:01 am

    Not to abuse my admin privilege of being able to see IP addresses too much, but Rhondda would be a great place for the Redskins lead singer to retire in.. :-)

  21. Jens  •  Aug 7, 2012 @4:14 pm

    i just fund them on youtube and love them!
    its a tragedy that dean thought the fight was lost when in reality it just starts now.
    and this time we have a chance! youtube and faceboom will do the you they begun in 84.
    come back chris, lets do a few gigs and take part of occupy something else to make move!

  22. blades 1889  •  Aug 8, 2012 @3:16 am

    i was a school boy ,the record still means so much to me!keep on keepin on

  23. Thee Faction  •  Nov 13, 2012 @11:24 am

    Great blog. A band can’t change the world by themselves, and a band can’t last forever. But bands can, for a time, help keep ideas alive and spread a message while both entertaining the faithful and winning new converts. By any reasonable analysis, The Redskins didn’t fail (neither did Red Wedge for that matter: the youth vote for the left went up during those years.) and their music and stance are still inspiring current bands, including this one.

  24. Terry  •  Feb 7, 2013 @4:44 am

    Great piece, bringing back some fantastic memories.

    As I reached A-levels, my school was in a local group of Catholic schools that worked together and subjects were shared out. I had to move from mine to another a few miles away with a very different demographic. We, including a couple already at the school, were seen as very poor relations and really got into politics at that stage. Neither Washington Nor Moscow was very much the soundtrack of that time. A brilliant album, inspirational lyrics and some of the best soul music, great brass and not a single duff track. The LP still gets a regular airing and Keep On Keeping On is one of my all-time favourite tracks and regularly blasts out on my work journeys.

  25. Fred  •  Feb 23, 2013 @5:26 am

    Thanks for a fine post. The defeat of the Miners’ Strike was a pivotal moment in working-class history, and it’s a defeat that we’re still living with the consequences of now, with our neo-liberal regime and three sorts of Tories (blue, pink and yellow) ruling us on behalf of corporations. Had the strike succeeded then recent history could have been very, very different. The Redskins were a highly underrated band at the time, but did, as you wrote, bring revolutionary socialism to the dance floor. Bopping to agitprop, none of the earnest navel-gazing of the Cure or the myriad of other alternative 80s bands, but sheer energy and drive to change. Which is how it should be. As Emma Goldman famously wrote: if I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution :)

  26. Ian  •  Mar 3, 2013 @12:57 pm

    If ever there was a time for Chris to step out of the shadows . . . . .

    Truly inspirational. Music that stirs me 30 years on and music and politics that have been picked up by my daughter.

    Keep On Keeping On!

  27. Chuck Power  •  Mar 10, 2013 @10:33 am

    Like many of the other posters – bittersweet thoughts after reading this blog and the comments. As an ex-miner who thought we were going to change the world ……. But the dream doesn’t die – that’s why we’re still reading stuff like this nearly 30 years later. Take no heroes – these bastards are only getting their own way because we’re letting them ! It’s ineviatable that being the greedy fuckers that they are – eventually they’ll push people into a position where resistance is the only option ……. then Sisters and Brothers our time will come.

    Keep the faith – all things ARE possible !

  28. Cool Notes  •  May 28, 2013 @5:14 pm

    Hi , great to see the band and those days given some credit and recalled.As one of the many fanzine writers at the time -‘Cool Notes’ , myself and many others were ardent Redskins fans. I travelled around the country and to Italy to see them, got caught up in the GLC fracas , and thought they were the most vibrant , sussed and committed and challenging bands around at the time. One of my best memories is travelling to Frickley , Sth Yorks , where I interviewed them for Jamming magazine, during the Miners strike before they played Frickley Miners Welfare. We had a hard core of sussed Chef’s (Skins and Soulies) who joined others for some dynamite gigs which , with people like Attila the Stockbroker, Billy Bragg , Men they Couldn’t Hang, the Newtown Neurotics, politicised me for life. Great band, great gigs and great days . Keep the Faith . Cool Notes.

  29. Richard Rouska  •  Jun 25, 2013 @10:25 am

    Hi Mr cool nOtes…long time eh? Yes, me too – interviewed Redskins for my fanzine back in the day and followed them on stage as a ranting poet at the York Festival sept 84. Sorely missed. Chris, it’s time, many of us are returning from our slumber to fight the good fight once again… we need to spit together and…

  30. TheMacleanBrain  •  Aug 29, 2013 @4:41 am

    Like many others, I am deeply inspired by The Redskins. I’m a South African so watching Kick Over The Statues still gives me goosebumps. I don’t subscribe overtly to the principal of ‘natural talent’, because I believe hard work is what makes people proficient at something, but, Chris Dean is remarkable every time I play NWNM. He’s known as a Socialist and songwriter, but his vocal tone, lyrical prowess and guitar skills make him hard to match for skill, passion, and raw talent.

    Oh, and the Tiger jackets, white T shirts, and boxing boots still kick over the statues in the style stakes!

  31. Adam B  •  Oct 8, 2013 @1:18 pm

    Nice piece – one I wrote a while ago for an FC United fanzine…

    http://www.afinelung.com/?p=1420

  32. Rick blackman  •  Nov 4, 2013 @11:05 am

    Well, yes all the above I agree with great band. I cannot add anything else, other than 2 things. I knew Martin quite well, I played in Raj & the majitones, and last time I saw him he was working as a lecturer at Thames Valley university. Last I heard of Chris was the Paris thing as above. Dunno bout releases but the John Peel sessions were better productions than the album, that I remember, I have them on tape somewhere, along with a remix (in a grandmaster flash stylee ) of Reds Strike The Blues with a sampled Tony Cliff (founding member of the SWP)

  33. Rick blackman  •  Nov 4, 2013 @11:08 am

    Oh and one more thing we should remember their friend and fellow poet/
    performer and socialist Steven ‘Seething’ Wells who sadly died a couple of years ago

  34. smokey  •  Nov 13, 2013 @1:34 pm

    Well isn’t life marvellous? Chris Moore (aka other names) attended a big proper public school in Berkshire from 1976. Not that disqualifies him from him espousing valid and radical views. He was highly intelligent,as I recall, top of every class. Found him not too friendly and keen to mock (I have a disability). well there you go

  35. Stu  •  Dec 16, 2013 @1:51 pm

    Sounds like an agit prop Syd Barrett

  36. Maf  •  Jan 10, 2014 @2:37 pm

    I utterly loved this band, and used to follow them around the country as a spiky 16 year old in 1984. For me at that time they were completely inspirational and I lost count of the number of people I got to listen to there music. Whilst there is certainly a smidgen of wistfulness surrounding the split up of the band I still have a barrowful of happy memories to take me to my shallow grave. Any other fans from that era that want to contact via Facebook my name there is Variety Pacman.

    The Power is Yours!!

  37. Gus  •  Feb 13, 2014 @3:26 pm

    Like everbody else have really great memories of the band, live and on vinyl. Went everywhere to see them, remember a GLC gig at the acklem Hall which was the first time I saw them…..just loved it…suddenly felt that working class people were both important, relevant and importantly had a voice. Fuck me, what have they got now?
    Chris Dean where are you? You blew bubbles in the pond, shaped our thinking, cared about imporatant stuff and left some fantastic music as a legacy. What did you do with the rest of your life?

  38. Dave  •  Mar 28, 2014 @11:50 am

    I moved to York (from London) 3 years ago and was prompted to re buy the singles. ‘Keep on keepin on it …. Till the fight is won’ has been my life motto and has now been instilled into my kids vocabulary (3 yr old & 6 yr old). The Red Skins legacy lives on in the next generation. Would love to see them back as people from York think Shed 7 are the best band to come out of the city! And that wrong needs to be put right!

  39. Stoive  •  May 30, 2014 @6:27 pm

    Not unlike others, stuck ‘where is Chris Dean now, when we need him most?’ into Google and got this fine, heart warming, but ultimately obviously incomplete slice of nostalgia.
    Like others, saw them loads, mainly in Manchester where I was living. You always know the band were getting stuck in and raising their game when Main took off his jacket, then his T-shirt, then put just his jacket back on!
    The bit that strikes me most is the short interview clip on YouTube where Chris is lamenting the music scene in the mid-80s and bands like Kajagoogoo and comparing it with somewhat misty eyes to 1977-78. Man alive, what must he be thinking now!?
    So going back to ‘where is Chris Dean now, when we need him most?’ and shirts, it would make an excellent slogan for a T-shirt, perhaps with the picture of the North London Poly live album? Anyone know someone who could knock one up? Can’t be too tough in this age of ubiquitous gadgetry?…

  40. nimh  •  May 31, 2014 @12:37 am

    Hi Stoive, thanks for your comment and of course, I share your feelings … though I never had the chance to see them live!

    Fortunately, I can’t edit people’s comments, so I just published your follow-up one as well. :-)

  41. Stoive  •  May 30, 2014 @6:31 pm

    FOR MODERATORS ONLY – Oops, in the middle of the second para, that should clearly read Martin (rather than ‘Main’)

  42. Rahman Hyder  •  Jul 5, 2014 @10:57 pm

    I attended Harrogate College of FE with Chris (1979 – 1981) where we did our A-Levels. Would really love to hear from him!

    Help, someone!!!

  43. Tony Wright  •  Jul 12, 2014 @4:38 am
  44. nimh  •  Jul 24, 2014 @7:49 am

    Sorry, Rahman and Tony, your comments got stuck in the spam filter. Approved them now after all.

  45. martin  •  Aug 3, 2014 @2:26 pm

    Thought I would check out which Redskins websites were still active and I came across this.
    All your comments are really flattering and yes you are probably right….the band is still needed particularly under this government that is even more right-wing than Thatcher ever was!
    Keep enjoying the music
    All the best
    Martin Hewes

  46. Gaz  •  Aug 6, 2014 @9:51 am

    Really into the Redskins in the 80′, the music and the politics.
    Being a Northerner, I was in a back street pub in Peterbourough with half a dozen people in, when a 20 something lad went to the jukebox and put on every Redskin track! I was gobsmacked and asked him how he knew the Redskins, he replied he was brought up with the music through his family and all his mates were into it???
    Ended up a great night and relived some memories with him and a few others!
    So the Music and Politics may have changed but what goes around……time for change and can feel there is definitely a change coming….

  47. Tel Sutton  •  Aug 6, 2014 @12:42 pm

    Nice to see my Amazon review of NWNM still getting quoted after all these years! ;-)

    Mr Hewes..! Btw, remember when we (The Way) came down to see you and Steven..? You were a real gent if I may say, sticking the kettle on. We proper ambushed ya! ;-) Hope life is treating you well ol’ comrade. p.s. Cheers for turning up late for your soundcheck at the Leadmill; jamming with Hooky was ace for a 17-yr-old cheeky bastard.

  48. nimh  •  Aug 7, 2014 @9:00 am

    Great anecdote, Gaz – warms the heart. And Martin – great to see one of the old band members checking in. Do you happen to know what Chris is doing now?

  49. Hud  •  Aug 15, 2014 @1:01 pm

    I listened to them from their first single, my brother followed them all over the country, and when the redskins disbanded we lost our inspiration and followed the path up the rotting, soul-less corporate ladder. I guess Chris Dean will never show again – it would be too much expectation to live up to. But protest lives all over the world. Only 14 countries across the globe are NOT involved in war. And capitalists exploit labour even more than they did in 1986. Fact.

  50. C.  •  Oct 9, 2014 @4:16 pm

    The Redskins were like no other, and we really need their kind again, an antedote to the politics of the day AND the shite state of music…. C’mon “Walk like The Clash and sing like The Supremes”…. again…

  51. Mark G  •  Nov 20, 2014 @10:51 am

    One day, this page might get updated with what these guys are doing now.

    Still, what they did then was/is more than enough, it was all they could have done.

  52. Paul W  •  Dec 11, 2014 @2:52 pm

    Still hit all their records on vinyl . Seen em a few times and probably one if the best bands of that time .

  53. Erika  •  Mar 26, 2015 @4:40 pm

    All things are possible Love and Bullets

  54. Tony Wright  •  May 7, 2015 @1:01 pm
  55. RoadtoDomestosMoment  •  May 21, 2015 @11:51 am

    Saw Redskins at Brighton in 1984. Good live outfit and the only band to give away a 12 inch record with a 45 single! Chris was a great rhythm guitar player too.

  56. Joey  •  Aug 24, 2015 @10:38 pm

    Gaz, i live in Peterborough and drink in the bars and put the Redskins on too….Although i am early 40’s!!! I think i know the bar, its Genevas and they have Redskins on juke box. Redskins were class, would love them to reform and do a few gigs!

  57. Latifa  •  Oct 30, 2015 @2:42 pm

    How many shite bands are playing festivals now, let’s get the red skins playing. Come on!

  58. Wilf  •  Jan 13, 2016 @4:08 am

    30 yrs is a long time,and maybe yes they’re music was dated, but they wouldn’t look or sound out of place now, and the message is needed more now than ever…

  59. Dave  •  Jan 19, 2016 @4:27 pm

    The film pride brought me here , the band I was in our lead guitarists sisters boyfriend ran Cnt records so got to meet , roadie and play with the redskins , stood on the terraces at bootham crescent a few times with Chris dean , I was into northern soul so when he got you political would bring the topic back to earth with KTF chat . They played the knavesmire gig with the chameleons , theatre of hate and the bunnymen,
    kirk Brandon wanted to give me £ 30 for the jacket I had on at the time . Great days

  60. richard branton  •  Jan 24, 2016 @10:43 pm

    Friggin great live at leeds uni during the miners strike .they where never going to last regardless be just because every song was political part from levi stubbs cover and wilson pickets 99 1/2 although they turned it political.I’m not complaining bout any of that , Dean obviously understand it and the small faces and jam they quit while still great.by the way the chris dean band was reportedly soul sex funk and the p modettes

  61. Stu  •  Apr 22, 2016 @3:29 am

    The Redskins music and ethos is more in tune with today than it has been for the last 30 years. It’s staggering that we are back to where we were,when the classic NWNM came out.A bunch of sick Tory Bastards tearing this country apart. Time for Dean,Hookham,Hewes etc.. To get it on again…as there are some statues not needing kicked over..but blootered tae fuck !!

  62. Chris D  •  Jun 21, 2016 @10:34 am

    No fear. I’m back.

    Keep on keeping on.

  63. C. Aston  •  Jul 4, 2016 @10:48 am

    Welcome back!
    Love to hear your thoughts of the last week.
    Your voice is needed.

  64. johnnydeeceed  •  Jul 29, 2016 @5:05 pm

    Favourite album of the eighties, NWNM is still so relevant. Anyone know if Whether The Weather (?) was ever released?

  65. kevin  •  Aug 5, 2016 @5:14 pm

    its amazing and great that even though they were so long ago people still have such huge interest.

    I was too young to see them live but as soon as I heard keep on keepin on I had found what I had been looking for. I got into punk and protest songs – completely out of step musically with my mates but I knew I had something that would stay with me all my life- at the time I wasnt into music, I was sports orientated. But it was k o k o and the only ones another girl another planet that finally got me playing guitar many years later at the age of 25- and i still pick up my guitar and play both.

    k o k o totally inspiring- whatever or whoever your battling against still on my mp3 and played everyday when I run.

    its a shame if the band members feel they had failed-they didnt they are inspiring people still now-and thats an important legacy

    kevin

  66. Vladimir  •  Aug 30, 2016 @10:15 am

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omwFbmV8X2k
    true Chris Dean?

    fuck, Redskins was a great band, one of the greatest in all music history, reunion would be great.. if it possible

  67. Murv  •  Sep 29, 2016 @3:00 pm

    It can be done!

  68. Gillo Ballybay  •  Oct 10, 2016 @9:29 am

    Ain’t it time for a return gig, fellas? I see Martin and Chris have both posted. Make it happen!

  69. chad66  •  Oct 15, 2016 @2:52 pm

    Just watched “the story of the skin head with don letts” on bbc 4 (fab!). However glaring omission leaving out the redskins!
    Saw them at Gays and Lesbians benefit for the miners at the hacienda (absolutely brilliant – also Pete Shelley I recall)
    You’ve never had it so good is the cry of those who’ve always had it better…

  70. Jimmy  •  Nov 10, 2016 @9:16 am

    Reunion tour! American living in Reading now and would kill to see you guys play! Bring it down!

  71. Lee Murray  •  Jan 24, 2017 @7:36 pm

    Just watched the fantastic It Can Be Done vid and it’s got me puzzled, I saw James Brown a few times in the mid 80’s/90’s and remember that big sign at either Birmingham in 1988 or Wembley 1991 but surely that can’t be right, any answers please?

  72. Jean-Pierre  •  Mar 13, 2017 @12:39 pm

    Please come back. We still need fighting poetry. Chris was one of the best singer of this period. He MUST come back. The bass and the horns we’re powerful. It’s just like Arthur Rimbaud when he stopped writting… All this talent … they can re-generate it.
    I have a live recorded in Rennes (france) in 1985. So brilliant even if the sound is not at his top.

  73. Lars  •  Mar 29, 2017 @2:56 am

    A reunion gig 7 november this year?
    (Amazing, this post have been up for almost 10 years.)

  74. loz  •  Apr 29, 2017 @6:00 pm

    Now more than ever my darlings we need that sweet mix of dance and gut music. Go get organised…

  75. Edd  •  Jun 21, 2017 @1:19 pm

    Would mean a lot to see you guys back together again with the way things are we need a musical voice with the balls to tell it like it is. All the best ✊

  76. Sarah S  •  Jul 15, 2017 @9:46 am

    come back Chris, we still need you

  77. Rick  •  Feb 27, 2018 @10:30 am

    The strike seems like yesterday to me and it always will. My brother was out for the year in Notts. I didn’t work at the pit then. I used to go onto the picket lines and to the general demos with him. He went on to become an MP. The strike defined him and drove him on politically for the rest of his life. I looked at him as an inspiration for the rest of his life safe in the knowledge that the victory was in the struggle and not the outcome. That’s something that the Tory bastards could never take away or even understand. The redskins music was the theme tune to the most important political struggle in the history of the British working class. God bless you lads. Keep on keepin on

  78. Johnny Chandler  •  Sep 18, 2018 @3:30 pm

    30+ years on I still find myself marvelling at what these cats were doing and the thought of them makes me smile with joy.

    They were regularly gigging then in London and sadly I recall right wing skins trying to deter us from checking out one of their East London Poly shows like it was yesterday. “Go in their and we’ll have you as you leave”. So a couple of us threw a few punches as we went in.

    The band had the brass section in tow that night and it was incredible. I taped a live radio broadcast from around the same time and the opener, The Power Is Yours was just marvellous and the show built from there.

    Thank you Redskins, we need more like you.

    Thank you Redskins

  79. Maggie  •  Aug 17, 2019 @4:39 pm

    I keep checking in here to see if anyone’s updated and it’s nearly a year since anyone did so I thought I’d post something. Hearing the Redskins changed the course of my life and thinking during the Miners’ Strike. I’ve never been the same since. I saw them twice, one of which (QM Union, Glasgow University) was the best gig I’ve ever been at in my life and I really wish they’d lasted a bit longer although I understand why they didn’t. The one and only album they made is one I still listen to and marvel at. I wish I knew what had really happened to all of them. KOKO.

    Pix

  80. David  •  Oct 7, 2019 @12:54 am

    I’be got a recording I made of the Redskins at the Jobs For A Change Festival – I was going to tape The Smiths too but the batteries went flat! I could share if anyone is interested

  81. nimh  •  Oct 7, 2019 @4:24 pm

    I don’t blog here anymore and it was many months since I last even logged in here … but now I did and there were again two new comments. Sorry for approving them with such delay, Maggie and David! It’s amazing to see people still coming back here, after all these years, to celebrate the legacy and memory of the Redskins. Thank you all.

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