As suggested by the name of the group, Newtown Neurotics was a product of suburban Britain. Formed in 1979 in the anonymous town of Harlow in Essex (which had been established as a planned city to house displaced families in the aftermath of World War II), lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Steve Drewett took an openly socialist stance within the band, steering their music in a bid for stimulating social change, much in the manner of Joe Strummer in The Clash or punk troubadour, Billy Bragg; The Ramones also provided early musical inspiration, along with the deep and heavy sounds of roots reggae from Jamaica. Along with bassist and backing vocalist Colin Dredd (AKA Colin Masters), demos and early singles featured drummer Tig Barber, who was replaced by Simon O’Brien (AKA Simon Lomond) in 1981. The cassette release Pissed As A Newt surfaced in small quantities, but their proper debut album arrived in 1983 in the form of Beggars Can Be Choosers, a masterwork of political punk with pop and reggae leanings; in addition to spurring their listeners to wake up and take direct action on the disc, the album also addresses teen angst, messy relationships and the caustic nature of boredom and apathy, as well as gender inequality and racial tensions. Closing number, “Living With Unemployment” was co-written by JM Carroll and Nicky Tesco of The Members.
(Radiation Records)