Pre-order Cock Sparrer's 'Shock Troops' on limited splatter vinyl here.

Cock Sparrer's 1982 debut LP Shock Troops is one of the greatest and most influential punk albums of all time, and it never goes out of style. Thanks to Pirates Press Records, it also never goes out of print, and it just got a new pressing that's available now on exclusive gold/clear/red/white splatter vinyl in the BrooklynVegan store. Limited copies are available, so get yours now.

For the uninitiated, Cock Sparrer originally formed in London in the early 1970s, before punk exploded later that decade, and their early influences included the era's glam and pub rock and '60s beat music. In 1977, they signed to Decca Records -- home of their heroes like The Rolling Stones and the Small Faces -- and their early singles included covers of the Stones' 1967 psych-pop classic "We Love You" and the Small Faces' 1965 beat classic "Watcha Gonna Do About It" (alongside rippin' originals like "Runnin' Riot"). They recorded an album in 1980 but it was shelved, and the band were ready to call it quits. Fortunately for all of us, they didn't.

By 1981, the original '70s punk bands were starting to break up or soften up and embrace new wave, and harder-edged underground subgenres were forming in reaction to that, like hardcore in America and Oi! in the UK. Alongside fellow '70s-era UK punks Sham 69, Cock Sparrer were quickly recognized as progenitors of Oi!, and the renewed interest in the band helped prompt them to reform and finally release their first full-length album, Shock Troops, in 1982. Cock Sparrer could've ended up as one of many short-lived relics of '70s punk, casualties of a music industry that was eager to sign punk bands but had no idea what to do with them, but with Shock Troops they persevered, and mocked the industry in the process.

Album opener "Where Are They Now" took aim at the ideals of first-wave punk bands and wondered if punk ever really meant anything, and anthemic fan fave "Take 'Em All" did not mince words when it came to Cock Sparrer's opinions on major labels. A lesser band might've just come off seeming bitter, but Cock Sparrer backed it up with songs that have stood the test of time for nearly 40 years. Shock Troops rejected the new wave and post-punk that was taking over the punk mainstream of the era, and it instead was the real-deal classic punk album that Cock Sparrer had been destined to write from the start. It's a fast, rippin' album with militant drum beats and gang vocals and a total embodiment of punk that was for and by the working class, not managers and fashion shows. It reminded you that Cock Sparrer were one of the grittiest '70s punk bands and proved they'd stick to their guns no matter what was popular, but it also continues to stand out from dime-a-dozen street punk/Oi! bands because Cock Sparrer -- like the Ramones -- knew how to write true pop songs. Their glam roots never fully disappeared, and Shock Troops was as filled with hooks as it was with rage.

Even Shock Troops' most ruthless songs ("Take 'Em All," "Watch Your Back," "Secret Army") are impossible not to sing along to, and some of the album is damn near saccharine. Like a lot of early Ramones favorites, "We're Coming Back" and "I Got Your Number" sound like '60s ballads at punk speed, while album closer "Out On An Island" is an actual ballad and a genuinely gorgeous one at that. "Droogs Don't Run" is a straight-up glam song that you could've pictured T. Rex releasing a decade earlier, and you can hear the "whoa-oh"s in the chorus of "Riot Squad" living on throughout a large majority of '90s/'00s pop punk. The influence of that "Riot Squad" chorus is undeniable, but it's not the only time Shock Troops paved the way for some of the biggest bands of the '90s punk explosion. You can hear the direct influence of this entire album on bands like Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, The Bouncing Souls, Anti-Flag, and plenty of others. (And in fact, when Rancid and Dropkick Murphys toured together recently, they covered "Take 'Em All" together on stage at multiple shows.)

In addition to taking shots at failed punk ideals and the music business, Shock Troops tackled heavier topics too. "Riot Squad" told the story of a criminal-turned-abusive-cop who ended up back on the streets after being blamed for an act of police brutality. "Working" deals with poverty and the not-exactly-legal steps the working class would take to get by, while "Secret Army" and "Out On An Island" deal with the effects of war on everyday people. With England's far-right groups co-opting the Oi! movement, Cock Sparrer's 1982 single "England Belongs to Me" (included on some versions of Shock Troops, but not on the original tracklisting, which is the one used on this new vinyl pressing) was unfortunately mistaken and adopted as a right-wing anthem, but Cock Sparrer have said on multiple occasions that they were not a right-wing band, and "Watch Your Back" made their stance a little clearer: "Right wing, left wing full of hate / we don't want to fight." Its call for peace and unity comes off a little too centrist for today's standards, but I think the anti-racist intent was there. When asked by Maximumrocknroll in 2015 how the band feels about people who attempt to rally behind their songs to support racism and fascism, drummer Steve Bruce replied, "Get a life."

It may have taken Cock Sparrer a few extra years to finally release a debut album, but Shock Troops belongs in the same pantheon of punk classics as the early records by the Ramones, The Clash, The Damned, Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, and anyone else who defined the genre's first wave. It continues to influence new bands and sound almost shockingly timeless today, and if you've seen them live recently, you know they haven't aged a bit and the Shock Troops songs still light up festival-sized crowds.

Limited copies of Shock Troops available now on exclusive gold/clear/red/white splatter vinyl in the BrooklynVegan store. Take 'em all while they last.

Limited vinyl variant of Shock Troops available here.