I dug through my closet and retrieved my old vest. The one over saturated in studs like some sort of urban battle armor. Sure, they had some dust on them but it was important this vest see the light of day (or the darkness of night so it were). This old vest of mine has an ENGLISH DOGS 'Forward Into Battle' backpatch and this was the perfect night for it to see some punk/thrash action again...And so there I was ...Geared up and ready...
Wait, let's lay down some history first before I get too far ahead of myself. I have stories to tell!
It was about 1988, maybe 87 when I was in New York visiting family when I saw the stock boy at the local market (who was usually wearing thrash metal shirts – Metallica, Slayer, etc) stacking canned peas or some other vegetable that doesn't belong in a can. On this fateful day he was wearing a shirt of a band I had never heard of and, as fate would have it, curiosity had the best of me. I was there with my Grandma, she was probably buying cold cuts and I was trying to talk her into buying me a wrestling magazine as I often did. But being the curious young rocker that I was I had to ask this dude about his shirt. "What band is that on your shirt?" I spoke, somewhat nervous as this dude was a little older and quite a bit cooler than me. I was with my Grandma after all. His reply was short and to the point, he was apparently one to not mince words. "The English Dogs"..."Oh, who are they?"..."A cool thrash band" and so was the end of our conversation. I had the info I needed and apparently had nothing else to say nor did he.
My brother and I put that prized info to use and it was probably at the Westchester County Mall, probably later that same day even, that my brother scored 'Where Legends Began'. My brother was really into hardcore punk at the time and I had drifted a little from the punk and was really into thrash and especially crossover and the heavier side of punk. That seemed to always kind of be the case, as I was one of the first ones I knew that was getting into crust. After crossover happened, thrash kind of died too, it was crust that caught my ear. I can recall proudly listening to DESTROY and my friends James telling me it wasn't punk, it was metal. I was okay with that as metal was in my veins even if punk was on my shirt. Maybe that was dried puke...
Anyway Justin wasn't really into the tape so I seized the opportunity and traded him a BUTTHOLE SURFERS tape for this coveted prize. I was hooked, it had the spirit of punk but sounded more like METALLICA. It was crossover that leaned towards the metal side. When I finally saw a picture of them in Maximum Rock N' Roll I could believe how cool they looked with their charged up and crimped hair. I had a girlfriend that lived about 50 miles away and that tape was often cranked on the long drives home late at night to keep me awake.
I had heard they had a few other albums but it would be a few years before I was able to track them down. It was on CD when I finally got my mitts on 'Forward into Battle' and 'To the Ends of the Earth', it was the CD re-issue with both albums on one disc. That was the fucking shit! I was immediately hooked and the 'DOGS who had now clenched their spot as one of my favorite bands. Somewhere in there my friend Joel tried to turn me on to 'Revenge of the Porky Men' trying to tell me it was their best album. No way...It was UK82 with a heavy Oi influence. I didn't care much for Oi, it just seemed like another one of those bands and I rejected it as even being relevant in my life.
With the invention of the internet and then Ebay I had the tools I needed to find the last elusive album and I set out on a search for 'Metalmorphosis' which I scored without much issue. Now I have even replaced the CD with the vinyl versions of those albums as well thanks to my bro at Radiation / Puke N Vomit Records in Fullerton. Check out his site, or if you are ever in SoCal be sure to go there. The place will blow your fucking mind!
It almost seemed too good to be true that the ENGLISH DOGS were set to come to Denver. When I heard the show announcement I was stunned. I know some folks were complaining right from the get go about the tour package and the bands that were on it, but from the perspective of a manager or promoter it made perfect sense to maximize potential interest and ultimately ticket sales. I don't think people had as much of a problem with HAVOK or TOXIC HOLOCAUST as they did that the CASUALTIES were on it. But, let's face facts folks. All the ENGLISH DOGS stuff is out of print and unless some kid really did his homework and even did some illegal downloading (gasp!) they may not know/have access to most of what the ENGLISH DOGS were touring behind.
And so that was the case at the show. 90% of the kids were to see the CASUALTIES. HAVOK fucking tore it up and made me a fan right there on the fricken' spot. TOXIC HOLOCAUST did some ass kicking of their own and were quite fun with their own crossover blend of metal and punk, in my review for their 'Conjure and Command' album I even made reference that there was a heavy 'DOGS influence noticeable. When the CASUALTIES hit the stage the population of the room tripled and practically the whole floor became a whirling sea of "street punks" that apparently had to be home by 10:30 because as soon as mohawked heroes from New York ended half the fucking room left!
But that was no matter that a bunch of old, balding and bearded Dad punks couldn't fix. I swear the average age probably doubled as the changing of the guard went down. Kids went home and all the old fucks back at the bar (myself included) marched to the front of the stage. There was electricity in there air as well as a thick punk stench that smelled like sour piss and stale beer. Dudes were getting fucking crazy as they jumped and pushed all over each other in their friendly violence and they didn't let up (including me) for the entire duration of the flawless set by these legendary UK thrashers.
Adie's vocals sliced the air with his unique bark, scream that sounded just like it did on the albums. Although older, balder and bigger (like most of us at this age) he owned that stage and was as sure of himself and as confident and energetic as Jorge from the CASUALTIES was if not more. He pumped his fists in the air, jumped around and headbanged like someone being attacked by bees! Not to be outdone ol' Gizz Butt was a highflying motherfucker as he jumped around and did guitar airs like some young buck in a pop-punk band. His leads were ear shredding wickedness as he riffed and rocked his way through the set. Pinch was on deck keeping it all plowing ahead at break neck speed with a thundering execution behind the drum kit. And...Let's hear it for the Christy brothers as they put on their 'A' Game as well. These dudes meant business and although they did not work the stage like Gizz and Adie they made sure they earned their keep as they gave a flawless performance on bass and rhythm guitar duties. These two kats meant business and they delivered. My hat's off to these two bad asses!
When the show ended we stood there in awe, all sharing shit eating grins as we hugged each other in brilliant elation of the splendor we had just witnessed. Personally I had waited almost 25 years to see this and the wait made it even that much more special. To share it with good friends and even family made it just that much more special. Meeting Adie before the show and Gizz afterwards and how friendly they were was the icing on the cake. They seemed genuinely appreciative of the support and applause that was directed at them. It was a dream come true for me and I am sure that being able to tour 20+ years later as the ENGLISH DOGS again was a dream come true for them (some years ago Gizz did some shows on the West Coast as AT WAR where he covered the same era of the 'DOGS material while doing guitar and vocal duties, I have the live CD somewhere...). This show was out-fucking-rageous. Certainly one of the most fun and energetic times I've had a show in a long time...
Days later I am still smiling, still cranking 'Forward Into Battle' and still wearing my new ENGLISH DOGS tour shirt.
Check out some pics and video from the show below!