After the first wave of British punk suggested countless possibilities for reinventing rock & roll, a number of bands in punk's second wave (Sham 69, the Cockney Rejects, etc.) chose to follow the loud, simplistic, macho direction, combining crude musicianship with shouted working-class anthems. The subgenre was dubbed Oi!, and The 4 Skins were one of its second-generation practitioners, with a name meant to suggest both earthy masculinity and its members' skinhead fashion statements.

In spite of the fact that The 4 Skins' lyrics excoriated racism (as well as police brutality, government corruption, and capitalism), their shows still attracted members of the xenophobic, ultra-right-wing National Front, as did many other Oi! bands, much to the chagrin of most. The 4 Skins were a rather unstable unit, going through four lead singers in their brief, three-year existence, including an instance where the group's manager was forced to step in.

Original singer Panther and bassist Hoxton Tom anchored the group on 1982's The Good, the Bad and the 4 Skins, their half-live, half-studio debut album; all members except Tom were gone by 1983's A Fistful of 4 Skins. Personnel instability finally forced the group to call it quits after the live-in-the-studio From Chaos to 1984; the reissues and repackagings began a few years later, and actually outnumber the band's output as a functioning entity. The two volumes of A Few 4 Skins More collect the first two albums, and the third with an added rarities collection, respectively; Live and Loud! appeared in 1989, and Castle's 1994 The Best of the 4 Skins replaced an earlier, out-of-print best-of. ~ Phillip Ewing, 80s Retro Music