Godfathers of the Oi! movement, the Cockney Rejects’ influence can still be heard today in everyone from Rancid to the Dropkick Murphys, so it’s only appropriate that someone finally got around to making documents on the underappreciated and often overlooked band.
East End Babylon is a visual love note of sorts to a group from one of the toughest neighborhoods in England, who managed to escape jail, drug abuse and death, thanks to blistering drums, punk rock guitars and a healthy dose of “fuck authority” vocals. The band, founded by brothers Jeff and Micky Geggus, is still active today and the film includes plenty of shots of the Cockney Rejects playing current gigs and digs up footage from their early years in the late ‘70s. Director Richard England also includes plenty of interviews from band members (current and former), fans, family members, childhood friends and several interviews with bands that were inspired by the Cockney Rejects, like Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen.
Importantly, East End Babylon also covers the band’s controversial past, including a period when the skinheads in the racist British Movement tried to hijack the Rejects’ music as their own. You can still hear the disgust in the voices of the brothers as they talk about that unfair association.
Though they never got as big as some of their scene mates in the early British punk movement, East End Babylon proves that the Cockney Rejects have certainly left their boot print on that chapter in music history.