One Way System Biography
Notes for DVD release June 2003
Not so much a compilation as a potted history of the career of North West England's premier punk outfit from 1982 to 1997. One Way System first lit up the second wave punk revolution with their fresh faced, no nonsense sound in the early eighties, when Oi! and skinhead culture had all but rejected the original punk ethic. One Way System managed to bridge the gap. They had the hardcore in your face, balls out attitude of their peers, but their songs had that cynical twist and melodic appeal of the seventies. They looked the part too. But unlike so many around them the System's feet remained firmly on the ground. These boys not only loved punk but they also respected music and made a point of it by creating tight, memorable and satisfyingly tuneful songs that paid dues to both the seventies punk phenomenon and authentic pop music, without losing any credibility.
The line up might have changed along the way but the music never deteriorated. From the front cover of Sounds to the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles the System remained sharp and impressive, their natural aggression and un-faulting professionalism sealing their reputation as one of the most exciting bands on the international punk circuit. The 'comeback' gig at the 1996 Holidays In The Sun festival only proved that One Way System are still a force to be reckoned with. Losing none of their brash glory, if anything, the years had been extremely kind… One Way System were back and nothing now could stop them. A year later they were taking Japan by storm. Lead singer Gavin Whyte had called it a day following the Blackpool festival replaced by long time fan and roadie Lee Havok.
A new millennium has rolled by and One Way System still impress. Touring Europe and the USA. Playing to enthusiastic crowds they remain as hard hitting and entertaining as ever. The DVD you hold in your hand is really just a snapshot of a band that's career spans two decades. It features never been seen before footage, candid interviews and a soundtrack to die for. Spanning 15 years the disc includes tracks from five classic gigs, promo clips and a short taster for a fly-on-the wall documentary of the 1997 Japanese tour, currently in post-production.
Richard King - May 2003
Biog 1995 for 'Best Of' CD release
One Way System were formed in 1979 as a five piece band in Fleetwood, a seaside fishing town in the North West of England. Their raucous punk style was first noticed by No Future Records who included a demo of 'Jerusalem' on the now collectable compilation 'A Country Fit For Heroes' in 1981. This was shortly followed by the seminal 'Stab The Judge' EP on Blackpool's own 'Beat The System Records'.
It had taken some time for the line up to settle down as Gavin Whyte on vocals, Dave Ross guitar, Gaz Buckley bass & Tom Couch on drums.
By 1983 the System became the first signing for new Cherry Red label 'Anagram Records'. Their first single for the label 'Give Us A Future' leapt straight into the Independent Chart. The band were featured on the front cover of the now defunct 'Sounds' music paper to coincide with the release of their acclaimed first album 'All Systems Go'. By this time the band were gigging constantly, both as headliners and alongside contemporaries such as GBH, The Exploited and The Test Tube Babies.
In retrospect the second album 'Writing On The Wall' really said it all with a title hinting of things to come. Although as hard edged and gritty as the first LP, one can detect the desire to move onwards and upwards from the straight punk sound. The band played some classic shows to promote the record including their only European outing, a 32 date tour of Germany.
The change of producer, from manager John Bentham, to Clay Records supremo Mike Stone for the 'Visions of Angels' EP, was a dramatic shift of sound and feel. Although well received, it seemed to leave the band in an almost uncomfortable void from which there was 'no return'.
October 1984 saw the band in America for a West Coast tour alongside US act 'The Circle Jerks', whose singer broke his neck just before the first gig resulting in the tour being cancelled. However the Los Angeles show at the massive Olympic Auditorium went ahead with Suicidal Tendencies stepping in. This was followed a couple a days later by what was to be the Systems last gig at an illegal warehouse party, where the band played a storming set on minimal equipment, hitting the last note as the Los Angeles Police Department arrived to break up the gathering.
Their return to the UK was to prove difficult and although enough songs were written for a new album, the band had decided to call it a day.
1994 saw the release of both albums on CD by the "Captain Oi!" re-issue label. This was followed by a 'Best Of' CD from "Anagram". By mid '95 the original band was back together, rehearsing for their first live show in over Ten years. A couple of warm up gigs in the North of England were followed by the 'Fuck Reading' all dayer at London's Brixton Academy in front of 2000 people, along with a similar show headlining in Belgium.
Late November saw the departure of original bass player Gaz Buckley, with Dave 'Rabid' Brown standing in for a Ten date tour across Europe, Dave was soon to be replaced by Andy Wilkinson.
March 1996 and Cleopatra Records in Los Angeles issue the bands first ever US domestic release "Forgotten Generation", which is basically the "Best Of", but using some different tracks and different packaging. The band also released a limited pressing 7" vinyl EP of 4 live tracks from the Rennes, France gig on 3/12/95.
Further European dates and all-dayer type gigs in the UK happened in '96, including the already legendary 'Holidays In The Sun' festival in Blackpool, where the System "came home" to headline the second stage on the Saturday.
Whilst the band were working on new material and preparing to record in early '97, they found themselves without a singer! Gavin had decided not to pursue any interest with the band. So a decision was made to continue working on songs with band roadie 'Lee Havoc' taking on the microphone. This arrangement worked very well, and in a short time the band were recording new material
One Way Systems performance at the 'Holidays In The Sun' festival, The Holiday Snaps Video, is the last release to feature Gavin. A fitting finale for Gav to be playing to his biggest audience ever for a local show. Respect.
John Bentham - July 1997
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