After his purchase of Resistance Records, National Alliance Chairman William L. Pierce told an interviewer that while his own tastes in music ran to Bach and Beethoven (or similar names—I’ve forgotten which) rather than to the Midtown Boot Boys, the latter spoke to the young, “my people,” and it was necessary to engage white youth in a way they understood.
The correctness of this statement seems self-evident to me. The purchase of Resistance Records was a brilliant strategic and business decision. Probably no other leader on the racialist right with the exception of George Lincoln Rockwell would have possessed the imagination, flexibility, foresight, and risk-taking capacity to make such a bold move. (I do not encourage risk, however.)
What Pierce called “resistance music” was pioneered by the British skinhead band Skrewdriver.
Lead singer-songwriter Ian Stuart Donaldson (1957–1993) (also known as Ian Stuart, the name I’ll use here), a northwestern Englishman of Scottish descent, formed Skrewdriver as a punk rock band in 1976, but the group subsequently evolved into the first major white power/skinhead band in the world, famed throughout Europe and America. Stuart was killed in an automobile accident in England in September 1993 at the height of his fame.
Stuart and his band were continuously harassed by authorities and anti-white domestic terrorist groups unofficially sanctioned by the government. To this day antifa elements boast openly about the violence they inflicted upon the group, and the record shops that were forced to close as a result of the Establishment’s determination to suppress pro-white music.
All Skrewed Up: The Punk Phase
Skrewdriver released its first album, All Skrewed Up (1977), under the mainstream Chiswick Records label. The name Skrewdriver was chosen by executives at the company because the band had no name at the time.
In its original incarnation from 1976–1979, Skrewdriver was a punk group that played to mostly skinhead audiences. An early reviewer wrote of a Donaldson performance before less than a hundred people in April 1977: “He’s a stocky frontman whose veins stand right out on his forehead, he puts that much into it.”
At the time, Stuart was non-political but had right-wing, racialist inclinations combined with a rebellious streak:
Most of our mates that came to our gigs were political, they were either NF (National Front) or BM (British Movement) and in the end what happened was the press ordered us along with Sham 69 [a successful English punk band that’s still in existence] to denounce those people in the audience, or get banned. We refused and Sham 69 said OK. So Sham 69 became very big and we got banned from everywhere, they banned all of our adverts from the music papers and everything. All this was in 1977.
The first incarnation of the band broke up in 1979, but Stuart resurrected the Skrewdriver name with different musicians and a nationalist, skinhead format in 1982. This band lasted until his death, with two dozen or so members other than himself passing through it over the years.
At least one original Skrewdriver member, John Grinton, was sympathetic to the political turn Skrewdriver subsequently took, and became a member of the pro-white National Front along with Stuart.
In addition to a dozen Skrewdriver albums, Stuart released three solo albums plus a total of eight additional albums under non-Skrewdriver group names: Ian Stuart & Rough Justice, Ian Stuart & Stigger (Skrewdriver’s guitarist), The Klansmen (a rockabilly band), and White Diamond (a hard rock/heavy metal band).
About this diversity Stuart said, “There was never any intention of giving up Skrewdriver. The thing is that I write so much material that it is a way of getting songs onto vinyl rather than just forgetting about them.”
Organizationally, Stuart and Skrewdriver raised funds for and promoted the pro-white National Front and affiliated organizations through the White Noise label. As a result, Skrewdriver became known for its involvement in the white nationalist movement and its associated music genre, Rock Against Communism.
Stuart, along with Nicky Crane, later founded Blood and Honour, a network that distributed white power music and organized concerts, after an all too familiar falling out with Nick Griffin, who at the time oversaw the NF’s musical activities.
Describing his experiences with “comrades,” Stuart said:
Our political message will be the same, and will concentrate on the racial warrior ideal and centre on pride, honour, honesty and loyalty. We feel that these virtues are very important as recently we have come across certain people who consider themselves to be political soldiers who wouldn’t recognise honesty or loyalty if they came and belted them in the mouth.
With the exception of All Skrewed Up, Skrewdriver’s discs were released under the Rock-O-Rama Records label. Rock-O-Rama was a non-racialist (originally, left-wing) West German punk music company founded in 1980 by Herbert Egoldt. But by the mid-1980s it was best known for marketing white power bands such as Böhse Onkelz and Skrewdriver.
Skrewdriver’s contract with Rock-O-Rama opened up a much larger market for the band’s records across Europe than it had previously enjoyed. In 1994, shortly after Stuart’s death, Rock-O-Rama was raided and shut down by German police for racial/speech reasons.
Skrewdriver played its last concert, the second anniversary of the Kreuzritter für Deutschland, in Waiblingen, Germany on July 10, 1993.
Ian Stuart as Singer, Instrumentalist, Composer, and Lyricist
Listening to Swedish WN singer Saga’s Skrewdriver covers it is easy to perceive immediately Stuart’s outsized talent and personality.
Hundreds of thousands of young whites have been able to grasp this directly via Stuart’s own performances, but before listening to Saga I did not.
Stuart possessed what in show business is sometimes called the “It Factor” or, in Simon Cowell’s TV show, the X Factor—an indefinable something that large numbers of people respond positively to. Like natural leadership ability, it cannot be created or manufactured. Basically, it has to be recognized and accepted on its own terms. In any field, those who possess it stand out from the crowd.
Despite this, I view Stuart as a third-rate singer and instrumentalist whose musical performances tend to mask the raw, natural talent of a first-rate rock composer and lyricist.
Skrewdriver’s instrumentals are typically crude, undeveloped, and cacophonous. Stuart speaks or growls his lyrics in a guttural, choppy voice instead of singing them. Notes are not sustained, and vocalization does not flow smoothly or musically.
Perhaps you can perceive this, as I can, by comparing Saga’s covers of Skrewdriver songs to the band’s originals. If not, another approach would be to listen to some of Stuart’s own covers of well-known popular songs you’re already familiar with.
Thus, “Johnny Joined the Klan” (The Klansmen, Fetch the Rope, 1991) is a cover version of black rocker Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” (1958) with subversive lyrics. “In the Ghetto” (Ian Stuart, No Turning Back, 1989) is a version of the 1969 Elvis Presley hit, “Sympathy for the Devil” (Ian Stuart, Slay the Beast, 1990) of the Rolling Stones song, and “Sweet Home Alabama” (Skrewdriver, Live and Kicking, 1991) of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic. A Skrewdriver album released as Undercover consists entirely of cover versions of well-known songs.
When someone such as Saga, with superior singing ability, sympathetic interpretive insight, and good instrumental backing performs Skrewdriver’s music, Stuart’s accomplishments as composer and lyricist unexpectedly leap out with great force.
One could cite many examples, but “Suddenly” is a powerful one in my view. (Full lyrics transcribed here.) Comparing
Ian Stuart & Stigger, “Suddenly” from Patriotic Ballads (1991)
Saga, “Suddenly” from My Tribute to Skrewdriver Volume 3 (2001)
presents a stark contrast.
In Stuart’s rendition, “Suddenly” is not bad, thanks to the welcome absence of the usual growling delivery and cacophonous instrumentals.
But the true range and depth of the song, musically and lyrically, is revealed only in Saga’s presentation. Stuart’s performance does not accomplish this.
Interestingly, Saga’s Skrewdriver covers are her best work. As C-C commenter Vick astutely pointed out, Saga is “great. Her own songwriting can be a little hit or miss (perhaps she should team up with some songwriters to help out), but the woman can sing.”
Because of their pro-white message, both Stuart and Saga were denied access to the highest quality production facilities, equipment, and know-how available to mainstream artists. Thus, production values can’t explain the superiority of Saga’s covers to Skrewdriver’s originals. She worked under roughly the same technical constraints Skrewdriver did when she produced her 3-volume My Tribute to Skrewdriver series in 2000–2001.
Against my view it might alternatively be argued that Stuart’s instrumentals and vocalizations are characteristic of the punk and Oi! subgenres he specialized in. And, indeed, those subgenres are bad, too. However, there is little evidence that Stuart performed consistently in a different manner.
Exceptions to this statement that I’m familiar with are his performances of the following two songs, both of which display vocal and instrumental approaches distinct from Skrewdriver’s characteristic approach.
“The Road to Valhalla” [2:52]
“Freedom (What Freedom)” [4:39] “Not the Skrewdriver version but the one on the latest Klansmen LP,” Stuart carefully specified in one interview.
In general, I prefer the instrumentals on The Klansmen albums to those of the Skrewdriver or other recordings, though the singing isn’t much different.
Comments on this site by “rdub” are interesting because they are perceptive and made by someone influenced by Skrewdriver’s music: “I know this from experience–as a young punk (with all the typical lefty leanings) I was introduced to WP [White Power] music via Skrewdriver, leading to my eventual racial awakening.”
Here are the writer’s thoughts about the music:
I see Stuart the same way I see [country singer] George Jones. They both utilize simple, straightforward song structures and lyrics; compare the short, plain words repeated throughout. Very lowbrow, not complex, non-intellectual, but somehow the emotional resonance is there. The words blood, nation, soil, heart, fire are all repeated throughout Skrewdriver’s lyrics. Simple, evocative words. Unpolished, sincere vocal delivery. And it works, despite the amateurish musicianship and sub-par production. Any man with White blood in his veins should feel something when hearing “Hail the New Dawn” or “After the Fire.”
Note the similarity of this assessment with André Schlesinger’s description of Oi music: “Oi shares many similarities with folk music, besides its often simple musical structure; quaint in some respects and crude in others, not to mention brutally honest, it usually tells a story based in truth.” A New Yorker, Schlesinger was lead vocalist of the anti-white group The Press, one of the first Oi bands in the US.
I might dissent, however, from the characterization of Skrewdriver’s music and lyrics as “lowbrow” and “not complex.”
Ian Stuart’s songs—at least when rendered by Saga—have a forceful effect upon me. The range of nuance, insight, and emotion is unexpected and surprising. It is difficult to discern exactly how Skrewdriver’s music and lyrics accomplish this mysterious effect.
The lyrics are often strikingly original. Take this stanza from “Suddenly”:
The people who’ve stood against us
They seem to be above the law
With the power to listen in to private moments in your lives
With the power to come kick down your door
With the power to listen in to private moments in your lives is not complex, but still highly unique, rooted in personal experience, and a perfect expression of social behavior.
Again, from the same song:
We live in changing times
When certain thoughts are now a crime
Power flows through an evil pen
And freedom’s light is growing dim
Power flows through an evil pen is another arresting verbal formulation.
Skrewdriver’s lyrics occasionally remind me of an analogous response I had to lines from Alfred Tennyson’s “The Lotos-Eaters” (1832). Greek seafarers standing upon the deck of their ship gaze at the coastline of a foreign land. Tennyson writes of a distant waterfall:
And like a downward smoke, the slender stream
Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem
Words so striking and unique originate from a mysterious source deep within.
“Mr. 9 to 5″ (Blood and Honour, 1985) (Saga’s version here) is interesting. It’s directed at the politically indifferent middle class white office worker, someone you would think would not even be on Stuart’s cognitive radar screen. Yet he is. Not only that—the songwriter devotes time and attention to him, a form of racial respect. If you listen carefully, the song is not taunting or insulting. Rather, it offers a challenge. Behind the surface of the lyrics the writer is saying: “In my estimation you are better than what you currently are. And, deep down, you believe so, too. Live up to that noble potential. Don’t waste your life.”
Faith & Inspiration
Very notable in Skrewdriver songs is a powerful ability to inspire, as in “Land of Ice,” “Tomorrow is Always Too Late,” “Hail the New Dawn” and many others. The songs aren’t purely, or even primarily, negative or dark—a natural predisposition in today’s evil climate.
It is not easy to inspire or motivate, particularly in the service of a cause such as ours in times like these. Yet our people are in dire need of a little honest inspiration.
Following are some excerpts from an article by Stuart articulating some of his core ideological beliefs. They provide a framework for understanding his music. Note the emphasis upon faith, which indeed is reflected in the lyrics of virtually all of his songs.
He ended one interview with these words: “Keep on working for our great cause and one day we shall grasp victory. Keep strong. We will win.” His music demonstrates that this was a deep-seated conviction with him, not a mere pose.
Faith in the Struggle (1986)
by Ian Stuart
In a normal society the public would question why it was that their own people were being oppressed and jailed for wanting to put their own country and culture first. They would also want to know why other races and cultures were constantly promoted and feted, while their own infinitely superior history, and way of life, were severely neglected and, indeed, belittled. But this, as we know, is no ordinary society. The corridors of power, of this once great nation, have been hijacked by creatures of the worst kind. In some circumstances some of these creatures are actually British people. These traitors, even more than the aliens who control their every move, must be dealt with more severely than anybody else, when the final reckoning finally comes. These people have sold out their race and nation for personal gain.
We, as Nationalists, must overcome the most massive obstacles ever put before a political movement, before we can hope to grasp the reigns of political power. The first and most important thing we must possess is faith. Faith in the greatness of our race. Faith in the ideology of our movement, and finally faith in the inevitability of our final victory. This faith will sustain us through dark periods of oppression, captivity and even death. Faith is not something that dies with the individual, but an everlasting flame which will not be extinguished until the end of time. It is this, and this alone, which our enemies cannot destroy.
We will face increasing media slander, which we will not be allowed to reply to. We will face increased harassment by the politically-controlled police force, which, against maybe their own consciences, will nevertheless obey orders, and set us up for prison sentences that are totally unfounded. We must expect this, and be mentally and physically prepared to have the strength to survive, and carry on our struggle throughout our lives. If we here in Britain are to win through to our goal, our key members, and indeed as many as possible of our total membership, must be spiritually and politically committed to our belief in race and history.
We must continue to create and cement ties with our kindred organizations in Europe, to make sure that none of the great achievements of European culture and history are forgotten or neglected. Only by greater European co-operation can we eventually hope to offer a viable alternative.
To achieve all of this we, and our European comrades, must above all have faith. Our enemies are strong, and presently we are relatively weak in numbers, but unbeatable in spirit. We must realize that we, and our enemies, are engaged in a struggle for the survival of the European races. If we fail we will be destroyed along with European civilization; and we must accept in our hearts, that if victory is eventually ours we must deal with our enemies in the most ruthless fashion. If we do not destroy their cancer at the root we will have to face up to its reincarnation at a later stage.
We must have faith in this, our battle to the death.