Influential pioneers of the street punk/Oi! movement in the USA, the Bruisers formed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1988. Continually dogged by line-up changes and bad luck, they continued to make excellent records right up to their demise. By the time of their first release on the small Patriot Records label, 1988’s Intimidation EP, the band comprised Al Barr (vocals), Jeff Morris (guitar), Scotty Davies (bass), and Roger Shosa (drums). The EP’s raw take on the UK Oi! sound, was tempered by a definite US blue-collar rock edge. Limited to 1, 000 copies, it sold out almost immediately. The self-released seven-track cassette EP Independence Day, featuring Crash (rhythm guitar) and new drummer Danny Conners, marked a further refinement in the band’s sound. A string of 7-inch singles followed before the release of 1993’s Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’. A tight combination of rockabilly, punk and hardcore, the album was originally released by Primitive Records before being picked up by the German Lost And Found label, allowing the band to make their first headline tour outside of the USA. Once again, this release featured a different line-up, with Rick Wimert (d. 1998) replacing Crash as rhythm guitarist and Keith ‘Ritchie’ Richards taking over on bass. Up In Flames, another solid release with a more melodic edge, followed in 1996. The band by now, had arguably their strongest line-up, and the following year’s Still Standing Up EP saw a further refinement of their trademark rockabilly take on punk and Oi! A split-single with the Dropkick Murphys followed before Cyclone Records issued the Molotov EP, featuring Barr, Richards, John Dicicco (drums), John Rio (bass) and Scott Vierra (rhythm guitar) re-recording the band’s out of print earlier material. Anything You Want, It’s All Right Here: The Authorized Bruisers was also released to meet the demand (spurred by Molotov) for earlier material. The album’s chronological order allows the listener to chart the band’s progress from raw punk tyros to a mature, yet still potent force. By 1998 however, Barr had had enough. The Bruisers, despite being one of the best punk bands of the 90s, never had the breaks afforded to their successors. Barr went on to replace Mike McColgan as vocalist for the Dropkick Murphys, his powerful vocals and Scottish ancestry being deemed a suitable combination for the band. In The Pit: Live & Rare was a fitting testimonial to a fine band.