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Remembering Malcolm Owen: The Ruts 30 Years On
John Robb , June 15th, 2010 08:24

30 years after his death, John Robb explains why Malcolm Owen, frontman of The Ruts, is one of punk-rock's great forgotten figures

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Can it really be three decades since Ruts frontman Malcolm Owen died?

In 1980, just weeks after Ian Curtis’s suicide, another key frontman was dead. And while Curtis has become iconic, Owen and his band - who were already influential at the time of his death - have somehow have been nimbly airbrushed from the annuls of history.

The Ruts, who burst onto the punk-rock battlefield in 1979, were the perfect synthesis of punk and reggae, moving it on from The Clash into a tougher yet powerfully melodic place. Their musicianship was spot on and imaginative, and Owen was briefly given the mantle of spokesman for the punk-rock generation.

He has become one of the great lost front men of UK music; a figure who fronted a key band whose originality, power and influence has somehow been overlooked.

As Joe Strummer once didn’t quite say, ‘The future is rewritten’, and as the past becomes sieved and edited we sometimes lose the story.

There is much debate about nostalgia, but those who are relaxed about such things celebrate the modern and the past with equal ferocity. The problem is that certain icons have become deified and celebrated, while others have been brushed aside.

Whilst someone like the aforementioned and, admittedly brilliant, Ian Curtis hogs the media spotlight, the likes of Malcolm Owen are almost forgotten in the rush to canonise certain accepted figureheads.

It has become difficult to believe that The Ruts were a far bigger group than Joy Division were at the time, with a clutch of hits to their name. They had released a brilliant debut album and had a long lasting, if unrecognised, influence that has stretched through the decades.

The Ruts provided an escape route for the punk movement whose first wave had run its course. For a brief moment in time they threatened to take British punk into the next decade. They could have been the alpha punk band figureheading the UK scene into the 80s, replacing The Clash who were on their American trip already.

The Ruts would have opened the doors for many other like-minded, imaginative combos who wanted to push the form forwards but keep it inside its parameters of thrilling music. They would have added an experimental edge, a space provided by dub and funk and a commitment to mean something to the street and the punk rockers seeking direction.

Unfortunately, when Owen finally overdosed on July 14th 1980 at the age of 25, it effectively ended the brief career of one of the UK's most exciting bands. It was a double shock to the fans who had assumed that The Ruts were actually the first of a new type of group who were beyond drugs - in reality, they were very much part of the London scene and had a reputation for on-the-road ferocious partying.

The Ruts had promised a future and delivered a stunning 18 month assault that should be remembered to this day.

I can still remember that thrill of discovery three decades ago when the first John Peel plays of the band were broadcast in January 1979.

At school, the clutch of us who were hooked into punk and post-punk would crackle with the excitement of each new discovery that cropped up in the music press or on John Peel.

And it was Peel, of course, who had just played this track 'In A Rut' by the bluntly named Ruts, who were coming out of the Southall/Hayes end of London, on his evangelical show that is still yet to be matched in the years since his untimely death. In 2010 there is no way music this edgy would get near so called ‘alternative’ (the most meaningless word in the musical lexicon) radio. It was the same then apart from the maverick Peel, whose show from 1976 to 1985 was perhaps the best radio show ever.

And it was Peel, who in early 1979, played the tune that was getting discussed in thrilled tones by our gangly group of teens. Here, it seemed, was another punk band just when we thought the whole thing had run out of steam.

By the end of 1978 they were already saying that punk was dead, despite the avalanche of the younger kids just getting into it. Punk had seemed to have played itself out. After all, how many more combinations could there be of the three-chord trick?

The Ruts were the first of the second wave bands - the much maligned and constantly misunderstood next phase of punk that took their cue from the initial wave of excitement of the form. Many of these bands thrilled in the rudimentary and matched the desperate times. These were monochromatic years of dissolution and apocalyptic paranoia, and things were about to get a whole lot worse...

Margaret Thatcher was about to get into power, and things were going to get a damn site tougher. Punk’s second wave captured this mood perfectly and seemed to be in a running musical battle with the establishment. The Ruts brief sojourn was one of the key musical fight backs that really meant something in a sea of soppy shite.

The second wave was tougher and more linear than the class of '77. It has been brushed aside by the media who will endlessly celebrate the mythical and admittedly genius first wave, whilst treating the second wave of punk as a musical leper colony.

The cliché of the second wave and other related genres being thick and unimaginative is constantly proven wrong with a cursory look at the bands involved. From the anarchist, almost art-rock punk of Crass to the superior rock & roll of the UK Subs to the dark feral primal power of Killing Joke: there were so many wonderful moments in this period that it could be argued that the combined second wave of punk and its close mate - the birth pangs for the Goth scene - were infact some of the most fertile breeding ground for British rock ever.

The Ruts debut single, 'In A Rut', was primal proto punk that hinted at something far smarter. Its structure was lopsided and anthemic - a brilliant piece of rabble rousing, proto-Clash street aggro - but there was something else going on. Something far smarter and considered, and it came armed with a brilliantly, rough vocal from Malcolm Owen, whose voice oozed a street charisma.

Their next single was the brilliant 'Babylon’s Burning', the perfect synthesis of the punky reggae party built around its killer bassline from bassman Segs, who would later be found playing in the Alabama Three. There was even an element of funk to the bass workout and a stunning piece of guitar work from the late Paul Fox, whose playing was always really inventive.

When Foxy died a couple of years ago from lung cancer, the UK lost one of its great guitar players. The UK punk scene rallied on news of his diagnosis and a very special gig was played in London, where a reformed Ruts took to the stage for one last time with Henry Rollins fronting the band in place of the late Malcolm Owen to run through six Ruts songs. When Paul Fox took to the stage an emotionally charged room watched a frail, heroic guitar hero pay his final show.

Rollins claimed he had seen the toughest man in his life and the guitar player, who had by then only one lung left, rocked hard and even moved about the stage. Post gig he collapsed backstage - exhausted, but an heroic figure.

30 years before, his guitar work was key to a band that was re-creating punk rock. Their rhythm section was adding the fluidity of reggae to the toughness of punk. The singles that followed 'Babylon’s Burning' were 'Staring At The Rude Boys' and 'Something That I Said', both of which were key signposts in the musical evolution of the era.

The band’s debut album explored this inventiveness further. Their sheer musicality and sense of adventure was never an excuse for the sort of self-indulgence and snobbery that ruined the fringes of the post-punk scene.

Despite this, The Ruts never forgot that their duty was to the mosh pit and also to the punk political. Their songs referenced the real tension of the UK.

The band were never scared to make a stand in the tense English civil war of the period, and their music cemented the diversity that people almost take for granted now.

All the time Owen was the charismatic frontman with one of those tough, yet emotional voices that score heavily in punk-rock. His stage presence was phenomenal. A rugged and tough face on top of a gangling frame, he dressed smart and looked liked he lived all his lyrics. His words were cutting and eloquent takes on the punk-rock nation and connected with the mainstream. He had the criminal style and the suss to front the band into the next decade and to become a Weller/Strummer/Terry Hall hybrid - but also one of those quirky, 'we really mean it, man' frontmen that the UK of that period was conversely so good at creating in that frilliest of decades.

He had been on the endless road for some time. In the early 70s he had been on the hippy trail in India in and later lived on communes in places like Anglesey with Paul Fox. While they all drifted back down south and played in bands it was Owen, who in 1976, after hearing The Clash, cropped his hair and bullied his mates into putting a punk band together.

Easily as charismatic as Joe Strummer, Owen was a brilliant frontman, an impassioned and powerful performer with a deep intelligence and a big heart whose chemical dependencies would sadly catch up with him.

Just when the band was hitting a peak in 1980 with an upcoming sold out UK tour, starting work on a new album and an American tour planned, Owen started to hit the skids. After some gigs were cancelled the rest of the band fired him because of his drug dependency - an act of tough love that temporarily helped to get the frontman to change his ways.

Heartbroken that the band had fallen apart due to his chemical dependency, Owen got straight and persuaded them to reform.

When he persuaded his mates to regroup The Ruts he hit the town. He took one last line of H and succumbed to the deadly kickback from the drug in the bathroom of his parent’s house in Hayes. It was a sad epitaph to a briefly brilliant carer that had promised so much and left so many what ifs.

There was one last single. Recorded shortly before he had been sacked the band had finished work on 'West One (Shine on Me)', a dark song that somehow conveyed the hopelessness of the situation. It was a posthumous mini hit.

Owen will always be recognised as one of the coolest punk rock geezers, and a face from the past who could have contributed so much more but at least left behind a brilliant and impassioned legacy that helped to shape our lives.

Anyone who really cares about punk rock deeply cares about the Ruts. Henry Rollins will always tell you about the genius of the band, as will Ian MacKaye, whose work with Fugazi was almost like a continuation of the Ruts experimental work. For many of us in the punk-rock nation, they remain one of key bands of their generation, and a sadness remains in trying to guess what they and Malcolm Owen could have become.

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Jun 15, 2010 1:34pm

Another great, great band that no one else but The Quietus would give the time of day to.

I interviewed Rollins a couple of days before that gig & he was worried about being compared to Owen, who he held in great regard. But he did a great job & it was a fitting swan song not just for Foxy but for The Ruts themselves. As I said, a great, great band.

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Damien Green
Jun 15, 2010 2:18pm

"Easily as charismatic as Joe Strummer..."

Really? That's a bold claim. It doesn't make Owen bad, in fact he was quite good but Strummer was on a level of his own as were the Clash themselves.

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Jun 15, 2010 4:29pm

Excellent piece John.Many thanks.
The Ruts were a terrific band. The Crack is still one of my favourite albums. Who can resist something like "It was Cold????

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Jun 15, 2010 10:04pm

In reply to Damien Green:

not only a bold claim but much as I love the Clash I get a trifle bored of them being put on a pedastal...both Strummer and Owen, as the author rightly points out, were great frontmen...

thanks to the Quietus for remembering.

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Jun 15, 2010 10:29pm

In reply to :

Human Punk! that'sall

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Jun 15, 2010 10:57pm

Excellent writing as always John.
Yep history is very selective.
Think New Model Army deserve a mention
- they used to do a great cover of In A Rut

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Tony Lee
Jun 15, 2010 11:12pm

Its so good to see that Malcolms input into the punk era is still as admired and respected as it was when he was still alive. The damned released a song about John Lennon called ''Would you be so hot if you weent dead?'' Malcolm Owen would be on fire! The Ruts music is timeless and fantastic!
Vive Le Ruts!

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Jun 16, 2010 8:40pm

In reply to Hooligan:

I was a 12-year old in Germany when a friend came back from a school trip to London with a bunch of brand-new punk albums. I listened to all of them, kept The Ruts and returned the rest. It's the only album I borrowed and never returned. I listened to it for weeks on end and regularly for years. Then I moved to the States unexpectedly and all my records were lost. I finally bought it again used some years back and introduced my boyfriend to The Crack. He loved it, and was shocked he'd never heard of them.
For me, it's a monthly must listen, otherwise something is missing. Probably my favorite record.

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Jun 18, 2010 11:53am

Nice piece. That part about his drug-related death being 'a double shock to the fans who had assumed that The Ruts were actually the first of a new type of group who were beyond drugs...' is very true, an not an observation you hear too much these days when reading about that era.

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Jun 20, 2010 7:09pm

t's a very small world in the middle of a crowd
the room gets dark when the music gets loud
treble cuts thru' when the rythmn takes the bite
but there's no room to move 'cause the floor is packed tight
A voice shouts loud
'we'll never surrender'
a voice in the crowd
'never surrender'
A hand in the crowds flying propaganda:
'never surrender, we'll never surrender'
The skins in the corner are staring at the bar
the rude boys are dancing to some heavy heavy ska
it's getting so hot people are dripping with sweat
the punks in the corner are speeding like a jet

Nothing sums up the times for me as those lyrics. Much political confusion for some. And we would go all night on some speed dancing and avoididing those stares. The Ruts were an amazing live band and could play better than most, they had served their time in other bands and learnt their chops before getting the punk buzz. Malcolm will always be sorely missed. Malcolm and Paul RIP.

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Jun 26, 2010 12:16am

Great article John and I agree completely. The Ruts made fantastic records, The Clash great or iffy records, which is quite a difference. Maybe if he'd lived they'd have gone on and released complete tripe at some point but the fact is they didn't do anything as dreary as 'Give 'Em Enough Rope.' Strummer was a wonderful singer but he simply didn't have the street soul in his voice that Owen did.

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Jun 26, 2010 6:41pm

Thank you Quietus. I remember going to school the day Malcolm died and being the only one who cared and who realised what we had lost. This music was incredibly powerful, even beautiful, and it moved me on a level most standard male punk bands of any 'wave' could never hope to reach. Effortlessly. This music is my companion still and I appreciate your remebering now.

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Jul 7, 2010 9:01am

Wow-30 years! Still remember mimicking Malcolm Owen with a broom singing Babylon's Burning in the back yard. The best punk band going.

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Jul 14, 2010 1:03pm

Great article.
Steve lamaq mentioned that it was the 30th anniversary on 6music yesterday. Shocked.
Playing the records todays - always taken back by the sheer power of the band.

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Simon Smith
Jul 15, 2010 3:23pm

Couldn,t agree more John ! The Ruts were and always will be the finest band that came out of the late seventies early nineties and Malcolm was the greatest frontman in my humble opinion! The Crack is indeed the finest album ever released and gets a daily bashing in the car to remind my kids what real music sounds like!
Lets never forget Malcolm and also Paul Fox who has now sadly passed away !

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Jul 30, 2010 12:27pm

Thank you so much for writing and publishing this tremendous article about the Ruts John. As Malcolm's sister it means a lot to me and my family especially on this 30th anniversary of his shocking death. Over the years I have been amazed at the number of young people who know of and admire the Ruts, even though they weren't around at the time. As with so many people who are outgoing on stage Malcolm was a quiet and very kind person in private. It is a comfort to know he is still as much missed in the music world as he is by his family.

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Sep 4, 2010 2:51am

John,great article. Saw them live on several occasions and yes,Malcolm was a terrific and mesmerising stage presence. You're rubbish rants about ipods etc are forgiven!

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Mar 11, 2011 8:50am

The contrast between Malcolm's relative obscurity in death and Ian Curtis's rise to the status of a near-deity was well made. At the time the Ruts had alrady had a top ten single, been on TOTP and seemed to have a glowing future. Contrast with Joy Division's lack of single hits, and TV exposure limited to whatever Tony Wilson could get them, and it all seems baffling. But I think the nub of it is the difference between M.O.'s heroin O.D. and I.C.'s suicide. The UK's media at the time shied away from drugs, whereas a good broken-heart love story with a clean self-immolation to tie things up nicely sat rather better. Shame, because M.O. and the Ruts deserved better. West One is still a favourite when I have a "vinyl night" at home with the turntable. Maybe if the Ruts' management had been as astute at the media playing that Wilson was a master of, it could have been a more balanced posterity. Maybe the rawness of revolution was harder to package and sell, or maybe it was a turn in the taste of teenagers who found the catchy melody of Love Will Tear US Apart easier to stomp to, and the Greco-Roman tragedy of Closer's sleeve easier to carry around under an arm. We'll never know now will we? RIP Malcolm Owen, RIP Ian Curtis. The race had a bad end for you both, dead is dead whichever way you stack it up. RIP Tony Wilson for that matter, another of our good men gone too soon like John Peel.

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Mar 12, 2011 7:01am

In reply to Alan:

And of course RIP Foxy

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Hayes punx
Mar 14, 2011 6:16pm

Been there with the ruts from the beginning, Brunel, Acton town hall, London, Manchester. Malcolm is a legend and was a coolest, even riding his mums push bike up to the Crown pub in Hayes with his purple tonic jacket. They were the days and the best of memories. The music is still so fresh and unique, they will never be forgotten.

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Vic Asbestos
Jul 25, 2011 10:50am

Babalon was the soundtrack of our teenage years, 79 was the best year for music (better than 77!)all the great tunes were in the charts and the groups on TOTP! (Upstarts, Jam, Members, Ruts, Skids, Sham....)If you were 15 in '79 it made you wanna get a band together which we did at school, He ha the best punk voice really, no competition!

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Sep 1, 2011 10:45pm

A fantasic band they were! - Yes the Crack! What a great album to be able to make so early in a career.

like Bon Scott, with Malcolm Owen over the years I've often thought- what a sad loss to great music was his death was.

Just what would of they come out with next?
& I'll never know - sniff.
I dan't think it's too much to say youth back then lost out!

And the author really is spot on about the UK scene in the late 70's - early 80's, these few years were the most dynamic ever.

(That's forgetting the awful disco drivel that was endlessly played on the radio at the time - along with that commercial rubbish from the USA)

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Sep 28, 2011 2:25am

Great stuff written here, well said John.
I used to live just down the road from Malcolm, and remember what a fantastic bloke he was. Like some supercool punkrock star that's just your mate really.
Awesome band too, watching them live was about as good as gigs can ever get for me, though I may be biased. woulda gone to more but I was a bit young for mosh pits and all that, them hayes punx look pretty scary when you're small (bless em)
Treasure them days.

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Mar 24, 2012 3:35am

An ex introduced me to The Ruts in 1981 and I loved them. I'm closing in on 50 and still love this band. Barely a soul here in Oz knows them and it's a real shame but whenever I'm chatting to the young ones about music and punk is mentioned I always suggest they have a listen to the The Ruts. It's only right

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Feb 2, 2013 3:04am

The truth really is the band had peaked look the the last single they would soon be forgotten but let's pretend that they were another clash for the bookd

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Gervaise Soeurouge
May 17, 2013 10:05am

What a wonderful article to find! Malcolm haunts me since my last memory of him was at a party at my place, Trentishoe Mansions. He lectured me on the dangers of alcoholism because I was drinking out of a bottle of Advocaat. He had to taste it before he believed that only the bottom inch was alcohol. Then a few days later he died. I still feel I shoulda known and done something. He was a wonderful person. The world is less without him, esp the music world. I was a photographer back in those days. Death was too common. I couldn't take it.

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Jul 14, 2013 10:23pm

In reply to Gervaise Soeurouge:

It is again the anniversary of Malcolm's death tonight .He was more than my fellow band member,he was my friend as was Paul Fox . Tonight Henry Rollins is on the radio and has again dedicated the show to Malcolm and Paul ..Shine on the both of you. And to John Robb I say thank you as this is truly a great article ,well written and eloquent as usual .
Although I maybe do not have the right to be spokesman for The Ruts ,Ruffy and I are nonetheless the 2 surviving members and as such ..Thank you all for taking the time to write these comments .
It means a lot ,especially today .

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Segs Jennings
Jul 14, 2013 10:29pm

In reply to Gervaise Soeurouge:

It is again the anniversary of Malcolm's death tonight .He was more than my fellow band member,he was my friend as was Paul Fox . Tonight Henry Rollins is on the radio and has again dedicated the show to Malcolm and Paul ..Shine on the both of you. And to John Robb I say thank you as this is truly a great article ,well written and eloquent as usual .
Although I maybe do not have the right to be spokesman for The Ruts ,Ruffy and I are nonetheless the 2 surviving members and as such ..Thank you all for taking the time to write these comments .
It means a lot ,especially today .

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Aug 20, 2013 2:38pm

It was ,i think June '79 and the band i idolised , The Damned were in town. Love song was in the charts and the Locarno was buzzing.After the local heroes Vice Squad played their set, on came the Ruts... - wow their sound and their songs were power and class.sensational.Malcolm Owen stalked the stage, as good a front man as i have seen to this day. Savage of the best songs i have witnessed live.The memories are still clear. The Damned in all honesty were no match for the Ruts that night. What an honour to be at Bristol Locarno that night....

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alex colucci
Dec 8, 2013 3:24pm

In reply to Doreen:

i happen to one of those people who was born in 1979 the year the ruts were making an impact so its only been the last ten years i have been aware of them.i would love to see a documentary made on the ruts as we constantly see documentaries on the art school swastika wearing posers of 76.i relate to malcolms lyrics and we dont see frontman with half his charisma these days.i just wish there was more in footage but sure happy when i see any available.

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Dec 11, 2013 11:51pm

People still reading and commenting on this article 3+ years later- another testament of how incredible the Ruts were !

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Dec 12, 2013 7:19am

The most interesting music of any of the "punk" bands.Contrary to whoever said they had peaked, they were getting better and better. 'Shine On Me' is an epic piece of music. It really captures a certain feeling IMO. Still raises the hairs on the back of my neck when I listen to it now, 30 odd years later.

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Dec 15, 2013 8:48am

In reply to Toner:

nowhere near as good as one direction though are they?

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Jovial Edwards
Dec 15, 2013 10:46am

In reply to hasbash:

I saw Motorhead a good few years ago now and Lemmy was a true vision of power matched with the sheer natural presence of a god, this I thought, would be unmatched by anything I would see ever again in my life, however I do concede that when I saw One Direction live, they were more than equal in talent and were epic live, the only thing more memorable was Motorhead slightly louder (and cheaper)

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Dec 16, 2013 5:14pm

Harry styles is just so fricken awesome!

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Dec 17, 2013 12:02pm

In reply to :

I prefer 1D to Blue but Busted were definately the best

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Dj Boyo
Dec 17, 2013 5:18pm

In reply to :

Blue were shite like boyzone were the best band of this era was take that. gary barlow and robbie williams are stunning live

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Gay Eric
Dec 20, 2013 6:35pm

One direction are fab, I love Boyzone too xxxx

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Dec 27, 2013 3:09pm

Take that are the best, gary barlow once sang with queen in the 90s

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Mandy Moo
Dec 27, 2013 3:16pm

I LOVE JLS !!!!!!!!

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Cassie Montgommery
Dec 27, 2013 3:27pm

JLS are the best in the world

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Dec 27, 2013 3:41pm

JLS for an OBE

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Dec 30, 2013 12:19pm

I ja luv will young e de brickin ma yenshi wid da sondz
ma shenas fulz boom!

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Dec 31, 2013 5:14pm

masha dom for ma man dappy hes th sniz

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Jan 1, 2014 6:34pm


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Jan 2, 2014 6:24pm

In reply to 1D#1F@n :

i lurve 1d lucky u

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Mr Bastard
Jan 7, 2014 7:00pm

i love harry styles too xxxxxxxxxxx

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Jack the hat
Jan 10, 2014 6:25pm


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Jack the hat
Jan 10, 2014 6:27pm


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Jack the hat
Jan 10, 2014 6:28pm

In reply to Jack the hat:


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henry the toff
Jan 15, 2014 5:09pm

DaPPY IS dA MaN ! rUTs arE SHIte

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dappy lover
Jan 17, 2014 5:03pm

fucking dappy is da bloke..a god!

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Jan 21, 2014 4:43pm

i like the spice girls they are ace

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Apr 20, 2014 11:04pm

Malcolm and The Ruts will never be forgotten.....He imprinted his own take on punk....reggae,skank, rudeboy.I as so many friends of mine will always remember him...the truth speaks be-ond generations...

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Brad Barton
Jul 22, 2014 10:10pm

Really cool article, Babylons Burning was the first single I bought aged 11 whilst on a youth club holiday to Matlock Derbyshire, we all bought a 45 each and had a party at the hostel that night,my choice rocked the house, much pogoing!Good times! Cheers!

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Aug 25, 2014 8:57pm

broke my heart what a sexy bastard he was yellow shirt and those jeans lol x

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Oct 30, 2014 7:12pm

Shine On Malcolm .................................... x

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Nov 2, 2014 11:56am

In reply to POPPY P:

The Ruts were my favourite band when I was 17 and I too still remember going to school and being the only one grieving, and knowing that something really devastating had happened. They really were something special and their appeal transcends the generations. It was really great music, powerful, original and inventive and the lyrics so eloquent and passionate. There was real feeling and idealism behind those words. They were what punk was all about to me, and I feel they had more integrity than a lot of the other bands around at the time. RIP Malcom and Paul.

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Nov 2, 2014 12:02pm

In reply to Helen:

Great! That should have read RIP Malcolm! Just when I was being all solemn! Just to say sending a thank you to whoever wrote 'Malcolm Shine On' on a wall in Taunton just after he died. It really comforted me at the time to think there were other people out there for whom it mattered.

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Nov 27, 2014 4:49am

GOD Bless you malcolm . Rocky where are you??

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Dec 19, 2014 7:25pm

Fantastic article on a fantastic band, and I shall be at 100
club to see them soon.
Cheers again

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Feb 23, 2015 12:47pm

Babylon's Burning is thee greatest punk anthem ever written and its more relevant now than ever. I remember buying the single back in '79 as a 13yr old and couldn't get that riff out of me head! The Crack has to rank as the greatest punk record ever made and is so ahead of its time. Punk, metal, reggae and funk, its all on there and points to the future paths a lotta bands would take. It was like the rotting carcass of generation X, everybody was taking a bite out of it because it tasted so good.

Its such a shame Malcolm Owen od'd at such a young age, but he was actually booted out of the band before so the downward spiral already was evident and the future uncertain. I remember the riots of 79 and the murder of Blair Peach by the SPG which was the topic of Jah War. They were a people's band who cared about society and spoke out against racism and injustice. Who knows maybe they were a victim of the NWO conspiracy.

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Apr 5, 2015 1:04am

"Babylons Burning" should have been a number one single in the summer of 1979. Instead we got Tubeway Army. Pft! No justice.

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Apr 24, 2015 10:06pm

Remember when malcom passed away still love babylon h eyes in a rut sad

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Jun 5, 2015 6:07pm

In reply to :

Some good comments on this thread and an excellent article by John too. The Ruts will always have a special place in my memories. Truly great frontman and band

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Nov 19, 2015 9:03pm

In reply to Helen:

Entrance to Bath Place - was there for years!

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andy nicholas
Nov 22, 2015 8:22pm

The loss of Malcolm Owen is one of music's greatest tragedies. The Crack and Grin & Bear It should have been the start not the whole career. I know there was Ruts DC which to be honest I'm not overly familiar with (I heard a couple of tracks at the time and felt it wasn't quite the same!).
Babylon's Burning, Staring At The Rudeboys, Jah War, Love In Vain and West One (Shine On Me) are absolute classics while the majority of the rest of their material is very good indeed. It has always been such a shame that we never found how good they could have been.

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Sep 11, 2016 9:49pm

Malcolm is beautiful. As a kid I heard the authenticity of their work and was captivated. Still sits deep in me. For the crack.

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Oct 2, 2016 2:59pm

Well said my friend !
I have always compared them to the Clash but they were so much BETTER. I feel they could and would have become the punk equivalent of The Who. Quality musicianship and live vitality. A sad sad loss all round.
My favourites were "Dope for Guns " and "SUS" (I had to explain the "SUS" laws and abuse of them by the police to my 20+ year old lads !!

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Mar 27, 2017 12:51pm

Fine article, thank you, which I've just stumbled across after seeing 'RUTS DC' support The Stranglers at the Cambridge Corn Exchange (25/3/17). Stranglers were good, but Ruts DC were the highlight for me. 30 minute set brilliantly delivered and without taking themselves too seriously. Took me right back to Dec '79, and my first ever live gig - The Ruts at St Andrews Hall Norwich. Liked it then, loved it now.

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Ruth whitehurst
May 9, 2017 7:56pm

Does anyone know what happened to Malcolm's girlfriend, her name was Marion Stone but she was known as Rocky. As she was a good friend of mine. We use to listen to her transistor radio together in her bedroom.

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