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Vice Squad

Idioma disponível: inglês
U.K. punk rockers Vice Squad were a significant band in the second wave of British punk. At a time when the music was becoming more stylistically monochromatic and male, they stood out as one of the few groups with a female leader, vocalist Beki Bondage, and she was also one of the first artists on the scene to use her music to support animal rights and vegetarianism. Playing strong, straightforward songs with anthemic choruses and a defiant tone, Vice Squad were willing to be rabble rousers and took pride in their connection to the underground even during their short tenure as a major-label act. The definitive document of the band's initial run from 1979 to 1985 was their debut album, 1981's No Cause for Concern, which included their signature tune "Last Rockers." After the group reunited in 1997, they returned to the studio to cut 1999's Resurrection, which featured new songs along with recuts of fan favorites, while 2006's Defiant, 2009's London Underground, and 2020's Battle of Britain found them sounding even tougher and grittier than in their original incarnation. Vice Squad was formed in Bristol, England in early 1979, assembled in the wake of the breakup of two local bands, Contingent and TV Brakes. The initial lineup featured Beki Bondage (aka Rebecca Louise Bond) on lead vocals, Dave Bateman on guitar, Mark Hambly on bass, and Shane Baldwin on drums. After just three rehearsals, the new band made their live debut on April 12, 1979 in a show at Bristol University. It took a while for Vice Squad to find their footing in the U.K. punk scene, but that changed in 1980 when their fledgling Riot City Records released the three-song 7" "Last Rockers" b/w "Living on Dreams" and "Latex Love." The disc rose to number seven on the U.K. Indie Chart, and their next release, 1981's "Resurrection" b/w "Hot Blood" and "Humane," peaked at number four on the indie charts. The band was noticed by influential DJ John Peel, who recorded their first of two sessions for his BBC radio show in 1981, and they set out on a tour with fellow British punk stalwarts U.K. Subs. After the success of their first two singles, the band struck a deal with EMI's Zonophone label to distribute their recordings for Riot City, though the distinction was lost on many fans who regarded the association with a major as a sellout move. Despite that, their first album, 1981's No Cause for Concern, which included a beefed-up cover of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'," sold well, topping out at 32 on the U.K. Albums chart. Touring in the U.K. and Europe followed, and after the release of their second LP, 1982's Stand Strong Stand Proud, Vice Squad toured North America for the first time. The rigors of the tour took a toll on the group's morale, and upon returning home to Bristol, Bondage left the band. She soon resurfaced in Ligotage, also featuring U.K. Subs alumnus Steve Roberts, and she later formed a group of her own, Beki & the Bombshells. The remaining members of Vice Squad opted to continue, hiring another female vocalist simply known as Lia and adding Mark "Sooty" Byrne on guitar. The five-piece version of Vice Squad cut an album for Anagram Records, 1985's Shot Away, but sales were disappointing, and by the end of the year, the band broke up. In 1997, Beki Bondage received an offer for Vice Squad to appear at the Holidays In The Sun punk rock festival, and she assembled a new lineup of the band for the show, featuring former Bombshells members Paul Rooney on guitar, Stilton on bass, and Pumpy on drums. While the new Vice Squad was intended to be a temporary project, Bondage and Rooney were pleased with the response they received and decided to continue, recording the album Get a Life in 1998. Michael Giaquinto and Tony Piper took over on bass and drums in 1999 as the band played an extended tour in Europe before flying to America for a package tour that included T.S.O.L., D.R.I., the Vibrators, and Chelsea. That same year, another Vice Squad album appeared, Resurrection. In the 2000s and beyond, plenty of musicians would make their way in and out of the Vice Squad lineup, but Bondage and Rooney would remain constants, with the lead singer also adding rhythm guitar to her arsenal. In 2000, Vice Squad released Lo-Fi Life, which was issued in Canada by Sudden Death Records, the imprint run by D.O.A. leader Joe Keithley (aka Joey Shithead). The band briefly reunited with EMI for 2003's Rich and Famous, and toured the U.K., Europe, and North America as the band cemented their reputation as a hard-working and crowd-pleasing live act. They delivered some of the toughest music of their career on 2006's Defiant, issued in the U.K. on STP Records and in the United States by SOS Records. After years of unhappy relationships with other labels (including the shelving of a completed album in 2007), Vice Squad took matters into their own hands and formed their own company, Last Rockers Records, which was launched with the release of 2009's London Underground. More international touring followed, including an appearance at the 2011 Rebellion Festival where they served double duty, appearing as Vice Squad and also playing an acoustic set under the name the Dirty Folkers. 2012's Punk Rock Radio was another rugged and rebellious LP, and after more live work and festival dates, Vice Squad were back in 2014 with Cardboard Country, the title track inspired by a massive homeless encampment where people lived out of discarded boxes. They brought out a split EP with the Droogettes in 2017, and cut an EP on their own, Ignored to Death, that arrived in 2018. Fans waiting for a full-length album from the group were rewarded for their patience in 2020 when Vice Squad delivered the LP Battle of Britain. In 2023, Cleopatra issued a deluxe reissue of Vice Squad's debut 1980 single "Last Rockers," pressed on three colors of 7-inch vinyl (red, white, or blue) and packaged in a gatefold sleeve with a number of rare photos of the group.
© Mark Deming /TiVo
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