25 Nov 2016

"I Don't Stand For The Queen" - The story of Social End Product

From RNZ Music, 3:00 pm on 25 November 2016

The story of a 1966 New Zealand garage rock song by The Bluestars that went on to influence bands around the world, presented by John Baker.

"I’ve been labeled as an angry young man / Because I don’t fit into the master plan / Under society’s microscope / I look funny but it’s no joke

I’m a social end product so don’t blame me / I’m a social end product of society / It’s not my fault that I don’t belong / It’s the world around me that’s gone all wrong"

These are some of the lyrics to 'Social End Product', released 50 years ago, in October 1966 by Auckland band The Bluestars. The song's writer, John Harris says:

"Social End Product expressed the way I felt about the world in those days. There was something badly wrong with the world - and still is - this was just me lashing out in an angry young man's way, trying to say 'this world is rotten, and I feel helpless to change it.'

Though Harris can't remember writing it, or the moment he presented it to his band, the song has gone on to have a life of its own. With snarling vocals, an unforgettable fuzzy riffs, a cough in the guitar solo, and a punk rock spirit that predates the Sex Pistols by a good ten years, the song is now legendary, at least internationally.

While quickly forgotten at home the song developed a cult following in the early 80s with sixties garage punk enthusiasts all over the world. In the early 2000s the song was one of four New Zealand songs included on the Rhino Records International 'Nuggets' box set. Original copies of the 45 RPM record now go for exorbitant prices on the collectors market.  

Harris says "I'm really flattered, and bewildered, by the fact that so many other bands around the world have covered 'Social End Product'. Some of them are even worse than ours. But others are really good, and I see the spirit that was behind my writing - it exists, decades and decades later."