The New York outfit known as The Templars are interesting in Oi circles, as they are an inter-racial band. There's not much of that around even among the (non-racist) S.H.A.R.P.s. Chansons de Geste is a collection of unreleased tracks from various incarnations of the Templars and their seminal works before becoming the Templars. Oi music, for those of those unfamiliar with the genre, is the street punk music that is pretty much the skinhead soundtrack. The songs are generally fiercely nationalistic protest songs. Where most punk calls for anarchy, Oi is more against the elements in the government that they perceive as a threat. It's not against the country per se. However in much of Oi there are racist overtones, or even themes for that matter. The non-racist skins like The Templars have the same garage punk band mentality without the racist element.
This collection of unreleased tracks (although most folks would perceive any Templars music as unreleased) is a decent Oi primer. This is not as raging as some Oi I've heard before. Still it's the real deal. The no-budget recording sound quality of their earlier East Side Boys stuff shows the progression of the band by the time it gets to the (only slightly) more polished Templars work. "The Oi Years" is an anthemic look back. Pretty standard stuff. The utterly helpless guitar solo notwithstanding. "TNT-Laboro" has the classic Oi sound. "Cries of Yesterday" is one of the stronger cuts (in this context anyway). Again the laughable guitar solo, which sounds like it was a poorly done overdub, doesn't belong and is distracting. You can hear the boys come into their own by the time they became The Templars. The quality improves by a great deal. The recordings are not stellar but what do you expect? This is street punk.
The bottom line on Chansons de Geste, while it's a good Oi overview, it is really for Templars completists. It's not much different than playing an early Fear record with the bass turned down and the sound set to mono. It is, however, true street Oi and The Templars creds are real.
- "The Oi Years"-East Side Boys
- "L'Unite"-East Side Boys
- "TNT-Laboro"-Ibano & Templars
- "Cries of Yesterday"-Sons Of Acre
- "Just Another Rebel"-The Templars
- "Unemployed Again"-The Templars
- "Hopeless"-The Templars
- "The Only Way Out"-The Templars
- "Terror Tactics"-The Templars