One of the most under-rated bands of the 1970s punk explosion are coming to the North East to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their one and only album.
The Ruts' sole studio offering, The Crack, released in September 1979, was an extraordinary statement of intent by a band who were only just beginning to show how good they were.
As the energy and attitude of the first wave started to dissipate, here was a band with everything to offer, melding punk's energy with the rhythm of reggae to great effect.
The Crack featured an extraordinary run of hit singles – Babylon’s Burning, Something That I Said and Jah War – alongside some of the best music to emerge as a troubled decade of enormous social change came to a close.
Malcolm Owen’s snarling vocals, Paul Fox’s searing guitar and the rock-solid rhythm section of bassist John 'Segs' Jennings and drummer Dave Ruffy came together in perfect harmony to create a top-notch slice of punky-reggae.
Sadly, it turned out to be the band's only 'proper' album because Owen tragically died of a heroin overdose in July 1980, at the age of just 26.
Their record company rushed out a hastily-assembled posthumous follow-up, Grin & Bear It, and the rest of the band soldiered on for a while as Ruts DC, before splitting in 1983.
They reconvened in 2007 to play a benefit gig for Fox, after he was diagnosed with lung cancer, which reignited interest in the group. Sadly he died, in October that year, aged 56.
But surviving members Ruffy and Segs decided to continue, and after adding new guitarist Leigh Heggarty to the line-up, released Rhythm Collision Vol 2, a follow-up to their 1982 dub masterpiece, in 2013.
They've kept playing, and an album of new material, Music Must Destroy - reviewed here - topped many end-of-year polls in 2016.
Now Ruts DC are back on the road to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Crack, which has become regarded as a classic, by playing it in its entirety for the first time.
Their tour includes a date at the Riverside in Newcastle on Thursday, February 21, with support from the Professionals, whose line-up includes former Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook.
Henry Rollins, singer of legendary US hardcore band Black Flag, who stood in for the much-missed Owen at the benefit gig for Fox, said: "The Crack. I cannot explain to you the impact that this LP had.
"It is simply one of the best albums of its time. A true treasure that that does not age, but only impresses the more you play it.”
Segs says: “It’s always been important to us to be a current and forward-thinking band, releasing and playing new material whilst being proud of our past. A milestone to many, The Crack is an important piece of work to us too. We now feel ready to celebrate where we came from.”
Ruffy adds: “Making The Crack was a real game changer for me. The Ruts were a band that were greater than the sum of their parts and wrote music inspired by everything we had ever heard. It’s a piece of work that I am immensely proud to have been a part of.
"Now., 40 years on, we will be playing the album in its entirety. It’s quite a challenge, as some of the songs have not been played since 1980! Our legacy is large, and we are and will continue working hard to make this a great show.”
Tickets for the Ruts DC gig at the Riverside in Newcastle are available from gigsandtours.com or ticketmaster.co.uk