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Long ago, The
Boys were one
of England's most notable punk bands, specializing in tuneful, apolitical rants about beer and girls. What else do boys like? They've proved rather durable, too, touring and releasing (or reissuing) records all the way into the 21st century (visit website). But, the Boys got nowhere on this side of the pond - perhaps because
they weren't nearly as pissed off as the Clash and the
Pistols and, as such, failed to conform to Yankee preconceptions about English punk rock. The Boys were almost cute, in fact, but they made
some damn good records (especially the first two) - all reissued by UK label Captain Oi! - and routinely release compilations like Complete Punk Singles Collection. Along the way, the Boys adopted a pseudonym - the
Yobs - for a what turned out to be a long and monumentally tasteless series of holiday releases. The appellation,
by the way, is British slang for 'rowdy or violent young
man' and is, conveniently, 'boys' spelled backwards
The first Yobs single came out in 1977 - a cover of
Chuck Berry's "Run Rudolph Run" - and the band continued the tradition in 1978 (in part to slip one by their record company, with whom they were feuding) with a goose-stepping interpretation of "Silent Night." A third single followed in 1979 - a version of "Little Drummer Boy" called "Rub-A-Dum-Dum," backed with the group's first original holiday song, "Another Christmas."
The Yobs' unleashed Christmas
Album in 1980, combining newly recorded versions of some of the singles with a passel of noisy, profane holiday songs both
original ("Ballad Of The Warrington") and traditional ("Jingle Bells," which the band describes as "a piss take on Gary Numan"). One of the new tracks, "C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S," is
without a doubt one of the filthiest, funniest things I've ever heard, concluding
with the deathless line, "Christmas comes but once a year, it makes me fuckin'
sick!" Not far behind are "Twelve Days Of Christmas" (featuring a dozen exceedingly vile gift ideas) and "Auld Lang Syne" (which speeds up as the lads snort cocaine between verses).
Make no mistake - this is humor at its most sophomoric. Farts, poop, vomit, drugs, Nazis, and every manner of body part and orifice are fair game for the Yobs as they skewer everything we love about the holy season. The Yobs' Christmas
Album is not for the faint of heart, but it's unforgettable. As one of the Yobs puts it, "It's disgusting, and it's rude, but it puts smiles on people's faces."
Much later, the Yobs released Xmas
II (1991), which
is exceedingly rare; I own the only copy I've ever seen, and I could only find it listed online in Amazon UK. Two members of the band combined for Live & Unplugged: Leads 3, Amps Utd 0 in 1995,
consisting primarily of acoustic versions of the Yobs' rapidly expanding Christmas repertoire (and isn't listed in anyone's online store...).
II is fun, but it can't compete with the Yobs' original efforts. The boys simply sound older - helping the juvenile jokes miss their targets more routinely. This sort of stuff just isn't as funny coming from guys in their mid-30's. "Christmas Eve In The Boozer," for instance, consists of little lyrical gems like "I had three shits and threw up twice," and "Come All Ye Faithful" is even more disgusting than you might imagine.
Of course, there are wonderfully tacky moments like the album opener, which translates "Good King Wenceslas" into "I will shag you senseless, lass." Much better, though, is the clever, acoustic Bob Dylan parody, "Born In A Barn" (especially the hilarious phone message in the middle), and its much louder sequel, "Away In A Normal Bed." And, I had to admire "There's No Santa Claus" for its high Scrooge quotient. Upon discovering the awful truth, the young narrator exclaims, "Fuck off, Dad!"
Shortly after Captain Oi! reissued Christmas
Album on CD (including b-sides and original single versions not included on the original LP), they also
Worst Of The Yobs (2001). Despite appearances, it's not a compilation;
rather, it consists of re-recordings (inferior, mostly) from both Christmas
albums plus one new song, "Who Had All The Christmas
Cake?" As always, it's fun, but Worst Of The Yobs is no substitute for the unsavory original recordings. [top of page]
Auld Lang Syne (1980)
- Born In A Barn/Away In A Normal Bed (1991)
Run Rudolph Run (1977)
- Rudolph The-Red Nosed Reindeer (1991)
- Senseless Lass (1991)
Silent Night (1978)
Silver Bells (1980)
- There's No Santa Claus (1991)
Twelve Days Of Christmas (1980)
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