"H-Eyes" - The Ruts (1978)

Released as the b-side to The Ruts' first single in 1978, "H-Eyes" is a powerful anti-drug punk song by a band that could have been as big as (if not bigger than) The Clash, as often cited, mostly due to similarities between the two bands, concerning their remarkable songwriting skills, their love of reggae and the incorporation of dub elements in their sound, their political consciousness and activism, since The Ruts also were a part of the Rock Against Racism campaign and, of course, the high-energy stage presence of their talented frontman and vocalist, Malcolm Owen, who tragically died of a heroin overdose in 1980.

"…What makes the Ruts’ legacy so remarkable is that everything they achieved, everything I love them for, all happened within the space of 18 months. These boys didn’t dawdle…

..They recorded a Peel session, quickly followed by the release of debut single, In a Rut: a raw and spirited, timeless anthem, soon to become an encore favourite.

And then it really was foot to the floor: a relentless gig schedule; contracts signed with Virgin; a riotous tour with the Damned; finishing touches to The Crack: the band’s remarkable debut album, recorded in about five minutes compared to today’s standards; Top of the Pops; a headlining tour and their first gigs in Europe.

Barely pausing for a breather, it was as if they had a premonition about what was soon to happen. ..The gang of four were on the cusp of real success, fame and (a little) fortune was within their grasp, and critical acclaim was imminent.

But, as is often the case, it all turned to shit…

..Having already conquered a heroin addiction pre-Ruts, Owen succumbed once more to the drug that would destroy his and many other lives around him.

The Ruts died on the afternoon of July 14, 1980, when Owen, recuperating at his parents’ house, decided to have a bath while smacked-up silly. It was the last thing he ever did. He was 26 years old.

And that was it. Story over…”

Neil Brooks,