I have a world of respect for The Business. Along with Cocksparrer, they pioneered street punk. You can’t compare The Business to other bands. They’re the hallmark. Nonetheless, nearly thirty years after The Business started off, you have to be a little hesitant about a new album by them. What can they do to stay interesting this many years into the game? Well, how about an album comprised solely of songs about football (or soccer, as we Americans call it)? That’s what Hardcore Hooligan is, and, for a closet soccer fanatic, it works for me. There’s a song about Gareth Southgate, the English national team player who missed the penalty kick that would’ve gotten England into the finals of the 1996 European Cup. There’s “Viva Bobby Moore,” a song about England’s all-time best player (I’ve watched films of Bobby Moore, and the guy was amazing; he’s the only player I’ve ever seen who could legitimately be compared to Pele). They sing the praises of Michael Owen, the most promising English soccer player since Bobby Moore (that’s my opinion, not everyone else’s, but you should’ve seen him against Argentina in the ‘98 World Cup, when he decided to take the game into his own hands, dribble past the entire defense, and score one of the all time greatest World Cup goals). They curse Argentinean national team player Diego Maradona in two separate songs, first with the basic, “Maradona, you’re shit,” and second with a re-recording of “Handball,” which starts out, “3000 miles is a long way to go/ to be beaten by a dwarf in Mexico.” Not only was Maradona one of the shiftiest players to ever make it to the national soccer stage, but, in 1986, he got away with smacking a ball into the goal with his hand, which effectively eliminated England from the Cup, so, yeah, he deserves two songs cursing him. I hated that fucker when he played. I’m not standing by The Business, though, when they sing about Maradona and Argentina beating England in that Cup and finishing up by singing, “Everyone knows the final score/ but who won the Falklands war.” The coolest thing about this version of “Handball” is that it was originally on their Welcome to the Real World album, which was a recorded right around the time when The Business’s popularity was waning fast and New Wave was picking up, so all the songs – which were written to be street punk songs – were recorded like someone was trying to make a Thompson Twins album. And every time I listen to Welcome to the Real World, I think that it would be one of punk’s greatest albums if they just re-recorded it to sound like The Business is supposed to sound. This version of “Handball” supports that theory. Beyond the direct attacks or songs of praise about professional athletes, there’s a bunch of songs on Hardcore Hooligan that are just about drinking and going to soccer games. It makes me wish that I could get together with the guys from The Business, go to a English First Division soccer game, drink beer, sing songs, and root like hell for whoever The Business root for.