Vice Squad formed in Bristol in 1979, just as Thatcher came to power. It’s perhaps no coincidence that when they launched their own label the following year, they were able to call it Riot City, after the violent civil uprising in the St Pauls area of Bristol, just as other towns and cities around the UK erupted in protest.
At Thatcher, of course. Not Vice Squad. We hope.
Drummer Shane Baldwin and guitarist Dave Bateman already had some form, having played with an earlier punk band, TV Brakes, but the Beki Bondage-fronted four-piece arrived tailor-made for the rapidly emerging 80s UK street punk scene that would become known across the world as UK82.
An early support slot with the Damned and the Ruts gained the band a big local following, as did their track Nothing on Heartbeat Records’ Avon Calling compilation, which attracted the attention of Radio 1 DJ and all-round hero John Peel.
Vice Squad’s first two singles, Last Rockers and Resurrection, both took the indie chart by storm, establishing Riot City as one of the major UK punk labels, before the band were snapped up by EMI for a crack at the national chart.
Vice Squad toured the UK, Europe, the USA and Canada, playing with the likes of UK Subs, Social Distortion, Chron Gen, Black Flag, Anti Pasti, Discharge, Exploited, Youth Brigade, GBH, Bad Brains and scores of others.
‘Last Rockers – The Vice Squad Story’ is penned by Shane Baldwin – a long-established music journalist and regular writer for Vive Le Rock and Record Collector.
His book includes interviews with fellow Vice Squad band members, including both vocalists, Beki and Lia, as well as John Peel, Garry Bushell, Shawn Stern, Charlie Harper, Alvin Gibbs, members of TV Brakes and many more friends and associates.
It also chronicles the story of Heartbeat Records and Riot City Records, with contributions from label boss Simon Edwards.
And for its sins, it also tells the sorry tale of the monster created as a Vice Squad by-product, the world’s foulest band, Chaotic Dischord.
‘Last Rockers – The Vice Squad Story’ contains 12 pages of photos, many previously unpublished, and a detailed Vice Squad gig list compiled by bassist Mark Hambly.
“This is the best book about life in a band you'll ever read. Doesn't matter if you like the music, it's the stories here that count. Laugh or cry, this book will provoke a reaction! You'll almost feel like you know these people.”
Mark Brennan, Captain Oi! Records/The Business
“A must read...this is a great example of how not to run a band!”
Charlie Harper, UK Subs
“This book offers a rare, insider's glimpse of the inner workings of the early eighties punk scene through the eyes of one its most high profile bands. But you also get the story of Bristol's renowned Riot City label and rise of Chaotic Dischord - the bastard son of Vice Squad.”
Eugene Butcher, Vive Le Rock
“I love these tales from the frontline. Punk rock is as much about the foot soldiers as the celebrities. Vice Squad are living proof of the power and the potency of the British second wave of punk and Beki Bondage was one of the iconic figures on that scene.”
John Robb, louderthanwar.com/The Membranes/Goldblade
“We deplore the absence of an index.”
The Times Literary Supplement