Given the long history of trials and tribulations that have dogged working-class street punks Sham 69, it is unfortunately rather fitting that the band that brought us the 1978 anthem "If the Kids Are United" now finds itself more divided than ever. Hailing from the town of Hersham, England, Sham 69 espoused an overt class-populist politic that stood in stark contrast to the 1977's art-school-fused English punk scene. This contrast pops up in everything from the name of the band (taken from soccer graffiti "Hersham 69!"), their use of sport-style chants ("Oi!") to their lyrics: "Conservatives, communists/They're all the bleeding same."
Leaning neither left nor right, Sham 69's lyrics attacked elitism on all sides. But in their effort to unite the kids, they ended up struggling with the same problems that undermine the working-class street-punk movement of today—including the politically disparate and just-plain-violent skinhead movement. Sham 69 concerts became ever rougher, to the point that the band had to cease playing live in 1978 and broke up a year later, apparently unable to unite the kids in much more than onstage brawls.
In the nearly 30 years since, Sham 69 singer/founder Jimmy Pursey and guitarist Dave Parsons have reunited the band several times with various lineups.
After a 2006 reunion, the band split into two separate Sham 69s: one with Pursey, one with Parsons. While the two fight over the claim of being the real Sham 69, fans of the band are left to ponder the lyrics "If the kids are united, then we'll never be divided!"
Dave Parsons' Sham 69 with D.I. and the Scabs at the House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-2583; www.hob.com. Wed., 8 p.m. $15-$17.50. All ages.