The Crack

Picture of The Crack

In Search Of...

The Crack - In Search Of... ©1989 Link Records
1. My World
2. Take Me Away
3. You Keep Running
4. Hard Road
5. Don't Just Sit There
6. Don't You Ever Let Me Down
7. The Glory Boys
8. Everybody's Dreaming
9. I'll Be There
10. The Giddy House
11. Nag Nag Nag
12. You Kept Me Waiting
13. Going Out
14. Cum On Feel The Noize
15. Don't Stop Me
16. Where Are They Now

No offense to any of the beefy skinheads out there that may happen to be reading this (and could pulverize me in a second), but it's nearly a scientific fact that Oi! has spawned some of the most mind-numbingly boring music to ever fall under the "punk" umbrella. Often as simple as eighties hardcore, but lacking the speed or minimal dynamics that make it listenable, what remains is essentially hooligan football chants set to midtempo barre chords, with "variation" being a four letter word. As such, it makes sense that this sort of music is generally the soundtrack for large bald men to get drunk to, for the precise reason that if not for the inebriation and smooth scalps, it would be hair-pullingly obvious how damn dull the lot of this stuff is. But to be fair, I absolutely am generalizing here: Every once in a while shining examples will rise above the rest of the rubbish in order to justify Oi!'s existence. Point in case: The Crack.

From the offset, there doesn't seem to be anything about the packaging that suggests much more than a typical foray into the genre: the cover depicts a cartoony rendering of four brawny Brits standing on the street corner, enjoying some brews outside of the pub and chatting up some byrd. The pictures inside of the insert confirms the album cover drawing to indeed be that of the band, and song titles like "The Glory Boys", "Hard Road", and "My World" seem to anticipate another tired set of chanted tales about hard living on the streets and busting in teeth. To be honest, if I hadn't come across this album new on the store shelf for a mere three dollars, there's a good chance my own preconceptions probably would have stopped me from picking it up. In hindsight, I'm glad I was too much of a cheap-o to resist.

You see, in spite of its outer trappings, In Search Of… is hardly a standard Oi! album. This can be attributed to one simple, crucial reason: the hooks in these songs are huge. I mean massive. Whereas most Oi! bands utilize a standard single guitar/drums/bass/barking vocalist approach to toss out monotonous two and a half minute jabs of street angst, The Crack had the good sense to add in a second guitar and attempt to do a little bit of actual singing, thereby filling out the sound and making grander, greater hooks possible. Thus, while many of these songs retain the gruff, shouty vocals and street sense characteristic of Oi! as a whole, the music bears a distinctive epic-pop flavor that's a lot closer to Cheap Trick-style arena rock rather than The Oppressed or The Templars or some crap like that. Stand-out tunes such as "My World", "You Keep Running", and "Don't Just Sit There" embody all the exaggerated cathartic joy and angst that make big-sounding rock'n'roll great, while the band's working-class charm and common-folk sensibility keeps the music firmly grounded out of the realm of fluffy cock rock wank. This is simple, fun music with an edge, utterly straightforward, but hardly dull. When I think about Oi! being done right, these are the exact features I look for in the music, and The Crack delivers them well on In Search Of….

All that said, I really can't tell you why The Crack seems to have fallen between the cracks (sorry, I couldn't resist) of revered British working-class punk. Perhaps it had something to do with this album being released in 1989 (well passed the 'golden days' of second-generation Anglo street rock), or maybe it simply sounded too big and clean for its own good. Whatever the case may be, The Crack is possibly the most criminally overlooked and underrated Oi! band in the entire canon of the genre, and it's a crime that they aren't a household name in the British punk lexicon. Meanwhile, The Exploited helped usher in a new era of utterly moronic music and get hailed as heroes for it. Go figure. In Search Of… is simply a great album, and if you like your hooks big, catchy, loud, and without frills, you won't be let down by this release. Now how about that second album, guys?

Note: The CD version of In Search Of… contains six solid bonus tracks, including a decidedly appropriate cover of Slade's "Cum On Feel The Noize". Annoyingly, there isn't any information available within the booklet explaining where these songs came from, but as most of them don't turn up on the few singles the band had recorded in the earlier part of the mid eighties (this band has a truly sparse discography of official studio releases), my best guess is that these tunes were either odd cuts or came from compilations. The lack of a definite origin notwithstanding, these are great numbers in step with the official long player, and do well to bolster an already terrific collection of music.

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 02/2010

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