Violators were a punk rock band formed in Chapel-en-le-Frith, England in 1979 by vocalist Shaun 'Cess' Stiles and bassist John 'Matchi' Marchington (both formerly of The Dismal Sports). The band's line-up later added Helen Hill on vocals, Mark Coley on guitar, and Anthony 'Ajax' Hall on drums, as they were soon signed to Worcestershire label, No Future.
The band managed to create a fist-full of punk classics in their short career. Their first releases "Die with Dignity" and "Government Stinks" introduced their unique brand of punk to Britain's excluded youth.
April 17, 1982, saw the release of their first 7" single, "Gangland" – a six minute long punk anthem – made Violators stand out for challenging the conventional face of punk. It's pounding drum and bass rhythms, uncompromising powerchord guitar riff, and Cess' dark subterranean vocals caught the mainstream music press unaware, yet a concensus agreed that the band had real protential. Gary Bushell described their sound as "street-level Joy Division", and it don't get much better than that, does it? At the heart of the single's b-side, "The Fugitive", lies pycho killer lyrics and viciously sung female vocals.
With the release of the band's critically acclaimed and hugely popular second 7" single on December 4, 1982, "Summer of '81"/"Live Fast - Die Young", Violators looked set for great things. Sadly, however, it turned out to be their last studio session with the original line-up.
Vocalist Helen and guitarist Coley left a few weeks later to form the short-lived Taboo, and went on to record a three-track studio demo (these tracks appear on the 2005 compilation album, The No Future Years). Coley played bass on these tracks, leaving the guitar work to a session musican, which seems, at best, puzzling, and, at worst, a real missed opportunity. Coley's thundering guitar riffs during the No Future years are testament to that!
In 1983, the three remaining Violators – Shaun, Matchi (bass) and Ajax (drums) – together with new female vocalist Louise 'Lou' King, and new guitarist Andrew Hill (formerly of Skin Graft), released the band's third 7" single, "Life on the Red Line"/"Crassings of Sangara". When heard today, the two songs have the sound and feel of early Manchester indie music. More incredible, however, is that the single pre-dates that period by many years.
It was the last stand for Violators, though, as Shaun, Matchi and Lou went on to form Ice the Falling Rain, who released one further single, "Life illusion", for the No Future off-shoot label, Future, before also disbanding.
To this day, Violators and their story – one of massive potential and missed opportunity – is regarded as an emigma within the history of punk music. The nature and timing of Helen and Coley's departure was at a time when the band had finally begun to understand each other as musicians and were about to get into their creative stride as the band's popularity was spreading fast to every corner of Britain's punk community.
While they've given us some fine punk classics, you can't help but wonder of the legacy this great band may have left behind if they'd only got their shit sorted out!
|1||Die With Dignity||3:13|
|6||Summer Of '81||3:25|
|7||Live Fast Die Young||3:07|
|8||Life On The Red Line||3:13|
|9||Crossings Of Sangsara||3:33|
|11||Slow Down (Taboo)||3:05|
|12||Young Blades (Taboo)||3:35|
|13||Revenge (Crossings Of Sangsara - Diff Mix)||3:30|
|14||Life On The Red Line (Diff Mix - Edited Version)||4:16|