The Business was an English Oi! band formed in 1979 in Lewisham, South London. The band lasted for four decades until their frontman Micky Fitz died from cancer in December 2016. The band was formed by school friends Steven (‘Steve’) Kent (guitar), Michael Fitzsimons (‘Micky Fitz’) (vocals), Nicholas (‘Nick’) Cunningham (drums) and Martin Smith (bass). The band has had numerous line-up changes in their career until in late 2015, Micky Fitz was diagnosed with cancer on the lymph gland and underwent radiotherapy. On 1 December 2016, it was announced that Fitz had died. This 96 track, 5 CD, six-album clamshell box features all that Oi! legends The Business recorded between 1980-88. The 20 page booklet contains detailed liner notes, lots of previously unseen pictures and clippings from the band’s archives plus scans of all relevant record sleeves.
Disc 1 features 14 tracks by the band’s original incarnation including the Indie Chart hit single “Harry May” and Oi! favourites “Product,” “Suburban Rebels,” and a cover of Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas.” The songs are mostly demos from the original band and not as punk/Oi! sounding as they later did, but it is a great start to this collection and a chance to hear the very beginnings of this great band. The second disc is the band’s debut album Suburban Rebels, an acknowledged Oi! classic now bolstered by four bonus tracks including the Indie Chart No.3 hit “Smash The Discos.” This is where I first heard the Business, and owned this album, playing it quite a bit. “Harry May,” and “Drinking And Driving” are still great songs that were played by me when I used to DJ, and still get turned up loud when they come on. You can hear the improved playing and writing that this album had over the first recordings. Disc 3 has two albums on one CD. The original “stolen” recordings meant as their first LP plus the in concert Loud Proud And Punk-Live LP which hit No.2 in the Indie Chart and was actually recorded in a studio, with crowd noise dubbed in later. The master tapes for the first album went missing after disagreements between the band’s label and the studio, forcing them to re-record the album, so this is a great opportunity to hear what the band was going for before they had to come up with another album quickly. They included a cover of Crass’ “Do They Owe Us A Living” on the CD, which is pretty good, and the “live” album with their Sex Pistols cover of “Pretty Vacant,” is a great way to hear what the band sounded like live, or at least all playing together in the studio but without the cleaning up of their sound. The fourth disc features 1985’s Saturdays Heroes LP which now has the addition of the rare Get Out Of My House 12” EP. The album proved that the band were still vital and could keep getting better and better, with great production and a bunch of blistering songs, including the fantastic title track. As a bonus, we get the remade “Drinking And Driving,” “Outlaw” and “Coventry,” plus their versions of Sham 69’s “Hurry Up Harry” and Hustler’s “Get Out Of My House.” Now that’s a killer CD! The fifth disc is 1988’s Welcome To The Real World album which saw the band expand to a five-piece with the return of original guitarist Steve Kent. The song, “Do A Runner” has always been a classic and I loved it as soon as I heard it for the first time. A great song that still gets me singing long after all these years. This album is just as strong and tight as you would hope from them and will definitely get you shouting from the terraces. The bonuses are two songs from the Main Event gig, “Saturday’s Heroes” and “Harry May,” plus “Coventry,” “No Emotions,” the EP version of “Welcome To The Real World,” and two album out-takes, “Tina Turner” and “Get Yer Tits Out.”
Possibly one of the better collections out there since this is the classic stuff that they are so well-known for and even though they kept putting out newer albums, this is what I’ll always remember them by. If you are a crazed fan, you might have everything here, but for those that want to jump in, go for it…you won’t regret this at all, just great song after great song and the booklet is a great read too.