The Business hailed from Lewisham in South London and along with Sham 69, Cockney Rejects, and Angelic Upstarts became one of the prime movers in the post-Pistols British punk sub-genre known as Oi!
The Oi! movement was marked by strenuously collectivist politics, chanted, football-cheer choruses and an unruly contingent of violent, rightwing hooligan fans.
The Business was fully prepared to take up Oi!’s street-fighting-man mantle in the service of social justice and hard-driving rock & roll, although the band’s abilities extended far beyond punk.
With its shout-along chorus and bashing rhythms, the group’s signature Harry May (a rant about a South London ‘celebrity’ and slightly shady geezer) is among the most traditional Oi!-sounding tracks in the Business repertoire.
The harmonies, relatively sophisticated rhythms, and infectious melodies of Out In The Cold and Streets Where You Live (which I swear has Paul Weller singing backing vocals!) reveal the influence of roots-rock and power pop and might not sound out of place on an early Jam album.
Elsewhere, H-Bomb sounds remarkably similar to Joe Jackson‘s earlier Got the Time. Powerful, outspoken, and rebellious as they may have been, the members of The Business were smarter than your average Oi! boys.
The original Business line-up broke up in 1981 with original members Steve Kent, Martin Smith and Nick Cunningham departing for pastures new. Fitzsimmons recruited Steve Whale, Graham Ball, Mark Brennan and John Fisher for the 1982 Manchester Oi! Festival but Fisher and Ball soon left again.
Adding 19-year-old Daily Mirror ad clerk Kevin Boyce on drums The Business released the Smash The Discos EP which spent six weeks in the British indie chart, peaking at #2.
The group’s long-awaited debut album – Suburban Rebels – came in May 1983. The album reached #2 on the indie chart and #39 in the ‘proper’ charts.
The following year, the Loud, Proud and Punk – Live album was released to a five-star rating from Sounds magazine. Long bouts of inactivity followed while the various band members worked on side projects.
Original guitarist Steve Kent rejoined The Business in 1988 – a year in which a flurry of Business recordings became available, including Singalongabusiness, Welcome To The Real World and In And Out Of Business.
In October 1988 the group contributed a track (Do A Runner) to a free EP. Recorded live at the Lisieux Festival in France, this was the group’s last ever gig. Their final English gig had been at the Astoria in London on 2 April 1988.
Fitz re-formed the band in 1993 when offered the prospect of lucrative American gigs. The ‘new’ Business also returned to the recording studio for the albums Keep The Faith and The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth.
Micky “Fitz” Fitzsimmons