But for the 18 generations before that, if we ignore the beautiful walls and buildings of the Old Town and focus on pop-rock culture, Edinburgh is all about The Exploited. They are among the few surviving “dinosaurs” of the original punk era.
OK, orthodox punks would likely object to this, saying that The Exploited was not formed until 1979, when all the “original” punk bands had already disbanded. And indeed, while the rest of Britain and Europe was dancing to the rhythms of Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran and Joy Division had already disappeared from the scene, The Exploited showed up in 1981 with their debut album.
The album was called “Punks Not Dead“ and perhaps had a decisive role in the survival of punk as a genre. It seemed to be a short-lived fashion trend among angry kids and Malcolm McLaren as a skilled manipulator, but The Exploited showed that punk was here to stay and that punks are by no means dead.
Not only that: The Exploited became one of the most important beacons of the “Oi!” subgenre of punk, uniting punks, skinheads, and all angry British youths, including football fans.
At first, their songs were just over two minutes long (or even shorter), and they were full of energy and rage, featuring simple and fast-changing guitar chords without riffs or solos.
Initially a classic street punk band, they slowly evolved, and in 1987 they became a crossover trash punk band when they released the album “Death Before Dishonour.“ In the meantime, they had a “classic punk biography” — when they appeared on the famous BBC show “Top of the Pops“ after their first album, many fans gave them up — that’s how far their reputation as an anti-establishment band went.
But The Exploited didn’t exactly “rest” during the 80s in terms of music genres. The band released the albums “Troops of Tomorrow” in 1982, “Let’s Start a War” in 1983 (dedicated to the protest against Margaret Thatcher), and “Horror Epics” in 1985. The period between these albums was marked by a major disagreement over the band’s musical direction: guitarist Big John Duncan and bassist Gari McCormack went on to form new bands, which frontman Wattie Buchan described as “bands with disco beats and guitar solos, total sh*t.” “The Massacre“ was released in 1990, and “Fuck the System“ in 2003.
They have always been known as boys from the street, never afraid to speak their minds, and their lack of refrain from explicit expressions of rejection and hatred is striking: “Fuck the Mods“ was one of their first songs, in which they attacked the likes of The Jam. Then came “(Fuck the) USA,“ and the legendary “Maggie (You Cunt), “which they promised to re-release once Margaret Thatcher dies On April 8th, 2013, when they heard the news of Thatcher’s death, The Exploited kept their promise and posted the song on their YouTube channel, cementing their rebel status globally. Of course, let’s not forget “Fuck the System” as an album name. It is noteworthy that the names of their albums and songs can still be found tagged on walls around the world, which speaks of the “eternity” of their message. Plus, their rhyme “Barmy Army“ is eternal.
It is incredible how they managed to remain a cult band in the punk scene worldwide and how their status among skinheads and angry youths has remained unchanged over the last 40 years. Although they have not released any new studio material for the past 19 years, they are constantly on tour. Ice-T and Slayer have covered their work; they inspired Nirvana, Metallica, Queens of the Stone Age, Dropkick Murphys, and Atari Teenage Riot, among others. Their legacy is enormous, and we will see a live class in punk history at EXIT on the famous Petrovaradin Fortress on July 8th, on the Explosive stage!
Written by: Žikica Milošević