Anti-Nowhere League: We Are the League DVD Review: Rude and Crude…They Are the League

Anti-Nowhere League did this and they did that. Animal did it with a shiny axe. So what? Winston shoved a carrot where the sun don’t shine. Nasty but so what? Who cares? Magoo shredded strings because he couldn’t sing and P.J. pounded beats until the League made him hit the streets but so what? Who cares? They were never boring little punks. They. Are. The League.

Anti-Nowhere League: We Are the League tells the story of a group of lads who grew up around Kent, England consisting of Chris “Magoo” Exall, Nick “Animal” Culman, Clive “Winston” Blake, and Djahanshah Aghssa aka P.J. (the “outsider” of the group), who would go on to infamy as one of the most in-your-face punk bands of all time. These guys loved motorbikes, raising hell, and lastly, making music. With no real experience and minimal talent, they pretty much fell into the world of punk rock by default but managed to nail its true ethos. They didn’t look like cartoon punk rockers either; they were greaser/bikers and hard core rockers who had full heads of hair and at times some good growth on their faces. They wore old blue jeans and leather jackets as they rode around the country with an “up your bum” attitude. They listened to old school rock and roll and classic rock from Eddie Cochran to Steppen Wolf and Led Zeppelin which led Animal and Winston to eventually don leather trousers on stage. With a simple sound driven by power chords, a hyper 4×4 drum beat, crude lyrics, and a chorus filled with easy to follow “oohs” and “yeahs”, they would rocket to fame. 

That “screw off” attitude is what the punters came to see when they began to play on stages with bands like the Damned, who the League actually paid to open for, Dead Kennedys, and eventually, the Clash. In the recording studio, they stuck to their basics for that first single and album, “We Are…The League (1982)” which hit with instant success, at least regionally. Riding the three-chord wave of success with tunes like “We are The League,” “I hate people,” “Streets of London, “For You,” and “So What?”, the League were at their best and hit their full punk stride. That same “in your face, we don’t care, up your arse” attitude both on stage and off led them to do all kinds of wild things, taking any bet or dare, any place, anywhere, any time. Winston and that whole carrot thing is the most extreme example (Google it, it still completely grosses out Rat Scabies) along with tearing up hotel rooms and stages. 

After they started to gain some all-out fame and tour more often in better venues, they added a second guitarist, Mark “Gilly” Gilham, to take over lead duties from Magoo and help with songcraft. It’s here that they got a bit too big for their leathers and turned around the sound, adding more polished guitar riffs and a damned saxophone. This led to them turning out songs like “Johannesburg” and “On the Waterfront,” which are not bad tunes, just far from the sound they were known for. With those additions, new sounds and a more cleaned-up look, they began to take on the delusion of being the next Duran Duran. A major misstep and one many bands of the time would take. It was also around this time the lads began to get tired of it all. So they decided to pack it in and call it a day sometime in 1987.

The League would remain dormant and forgotten, so they thought until Metallica covered and released “So What?” as the B side to the “Sad but True” single in 1993. That single and an appearance by Animal on stage with Metallica would launch a whole new Anti-Nowhere League revival. Sparking the boys to get the band back together but they soon tired of that and headed back home. Except for Animal, who couldn’t shake the disease and with the other’s consent kept on rockin’ with a new band staring at his axe. 

Anti-Nowhere League: We Are the League (2019) directed by George Hencken (Soul Boys of The Western World) is a full-blown, well-produced, very watchable and enjoyable documentary about a band that was as nasty as they wanted to be before 2 Live Crew hit the rap scene. For 103 minutes, you’ll hear all about their rise, fall, and resurgence as well as all the crazy antics in between on stage and off from the people that were there. Besides the band members themselves, we hear from the likes of band manager John Curd, Rat Scabies of the Damned, Stewart Copeland of the Police, and various other blokes who were there in those wild days and survived to tell the tale.

With the Special Edition DVD comes an audio CD recorded live during Anti-Nowhere League’s raucous best in 1982. “So What Tour? 1982 Live” is a really good disc that includes versions of “So What?”, “I Hate People,” “For You” and “We Are The League.” The CD rocks from start to finish and rivals the band’s first live album Live in Yugoslavia recorded in 1983. It provides a great example of what the League was like in their original form. 

Some hardcores know the band from the days before, when they were rude, crude, and new to it all. Some of us learned of them from the Metallica cover and sought out more. Some may still know nothing at all about the League and to them I say get off your arse, ya “no where people” and go find Anti-Nowhere League: We Are the League and see for yourself the glory and madness that is Anti-Nowhere League. Or don’t because really…So What? Who cares?

Buy Anti-Nowhere League We Are the League

Joe Garcia III

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