Xmas songs no. 20: The Vandals – “Oi to the World”

Oi to the WorldTonight I’m going to the Vandals Christmas Formal, a tradition of mine for the past several years. In 1996 The Vandals released a Christmas album, Oi to the World!, on their fledgling indie label Kung Fu Records They’d just launched the label earlier that year, thus pressings of the album were limited and it remained relatively obscure; in interviews, when asked “What’s one thing about the Vandals that most of your fans don’t know?” they’d often respond “That we have a Christmas record”.

The band spent much of 1997 opening for No Doubt on their Tragic Kingdom world tour, playing the album’s title track in their set each night. When No Doubt was asked to contribute a track to A Very Special Christmas 3 (the 1997 installment of a compilation series benefiting the Special Olympics), they decided to cover the Vandals’ song since they’d been hearing it every night. Their version was produced by Vandals guitarist Warren Fitzgerald, and with the success of Tragic Kingdom their cover of the song received mainstream exposure and was made into a music video.

Kung Fu Records re-released Oi to the World! in 2000, giving it new artwork and adding an overture at the end as well as a new intro to the title track; this is the version used in the clip below. As a bonus I’ve included No Doubt’s “Oi to the World” music video. The song became a regular part of the Vandals’ setlist, but otherwise tracks from Oi to the World! were rarely performed live except at their Christmas Formal concerts, an annual tradition in Anaheim at which the band plays the album in its entirety. They haven’t toured or performed much in recent years, so the Christmas Formals are pretty much the only opportunity to see the band and generally sell out.

Haji was a punk just like any other boy
And he never had no troubles ’til he started up his oi! band
Safe in the garage, singing in the tub
But Haji went to far and he plugged in at the pub

‘Twas a cold Christmas Eve when Trevor and the skins
Popped in for a pint and to nick a bag of crisps
Trevor liked the music but not the unity
He unwound Haji’s turban and knocked him to his knees

If God came down on Christmas Day
I know exactly what he’d say
He’d say “Oi! to the punks and oi! to the skins
But oi! to the world and everybody wins”

Haji was a bloody mess, he ran out through the crowd
He said “We’ll meet again, we are bloodied yet unbowed”
Trevor called his bluff and told him where to meet
Christmas Day on the roof down 20 Oxford Street

On the roof with the nunchucks Trevor broke a lot of bones
But Haji had a sword like the guy on Indiana Jones

Police siren wailing, a bloody, dying man
Haji was alone and abandoned by his band
Trevor was there fading and still so full of hate
When the skins left him there and went down the fire escape

Then Haji saw the north star shining more then ever
So he made a tourniquet from his turban, saving Trevor
They repelled down the roof with the rest of the turban
And went back to the pub, where they bought each other bourbon


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