SK88: Old School Skateboard Playlist

Best years of my life? 15/16 years old, skateboarding all day and hanging around with my friends.  It was the late 1980s, and the days of the 180 Boneless, No Comply and learning to Ollie.  Back when kickflips were the raddest trick in the car park – except we called them “Ollie kickflips” back then.

This was also the time when I started to really veer off the obvious track as far as music was concerned.  Skate videos and Thrasher magazine began to open up a whole new world of music.  Sometimes these bands would enter the mainstream a couple of years later; sometimes they never did.

I remember hearing a great song on a Vision video.  I had no idea what the song was called, but worked out from the credits that it was most likely performed by the Descendents.  I recorded the song onto cassette off the TV as there was no other way to hear it.  A few months later, on a skate buying trip to Manchester, I stumbled across a record shop that stocked a few records by the band.  I had to buy one: taking a gamble on “All” as it featured a song called “Coolidge”, which fitted the lyrics of the track I loved.  I was so stoked when I got home, played the vinyl and heard the song I was hoping for!  Great album, all in all.

This practice of researching and hunting became a big feature of my relationship with music ever since.

Skating all day, then listening to music in the evening was a big part of my teenage years.  This playlist is designed to reflect those days: music I enjoyed back then and became the soundtrack to that time.

Some songs featured in skate videos (McRad, Odd Man Out).  Some were checked out after I saw them advertised or reviewed in Thrasher (The Cult, Misfits).  Others were just part of the current soundscape, and are forever linked with those halcyon days.

Here’s the playlist I made, split into a two CD format:

Part 1

  1. McRad – “Weakness”
  2. Odd Man Out – “Four Thirty One”
  3. Descendents – “Coolidge”
  4. Sex Pistols – “Holidays in the Sun”
  5. Devo – “That’s Good”
  6. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”
  7. Motorhead – “Killed by Death”
  8. Faith No More – “We Care a Lot”
  9. Misfits – “Astro Zombies”
  10. Hard-Ons – “Don’t Wanna See You Cry”
  11. The Stupids – “Skid Row”
  12. Beastie Boys – “She’s On It”
  13. Circle Jerks – “Wild in the Streets”
  14. Spermbirds – “Something to Prove”
  15. Dead Kennedys – “California Uber Alles”
  16. Suicidal Tendencies – “Possessed to Skate”
  17. Generation X – “One Hundred Punks”

Part 2

  1. The Cult – “Wildflower”
  2. The Damned – “Love Song”
  3. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Higher Ground”
  4. Fishbone – “Freddie’s Dead”
  5. Iggy Pop – “Cold Metal”
  6. GBH – “Too Much”
  7. Mudhoney – “Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More”
  8. Ramones – “I Just Wanna Have Something To Do”
  9. The Stranglers – “Peaches”
  10. Bad Brains – “Soul Craft”
  11. Gang Green – “Church of Fun”
  12. Metallica – “The Thing That Should Not Be”
  13. Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Purple Haze”
  14. Rolling Stones – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
  15. Jesus Jones – “Never Enough”
  16. The Skids – “Into the Valley”
  17. Fugazi – “Blueprint”

Some of the above tracks I owned on vinyl or cassette back in the day; some I found in later years.  There are still plenty of other bands from skate videos that I either still haven’t tracked down, or as I didn’t own them at the time I’ve omitted for now.

Instead, this is a basic playlist to represent my late 80s skateboarding days, boiled down to the bare essentials.  I hope you enjoy and these bring back some memories.

And this sin’t an exhaustive list: how Anthrax and Run DMC didn’t get included is baffling.  Maybe I can expand with some more for a Part 2…

Classic Albums #3

It’s been a long time since I wrote a Classic Albums post.  Nearly four years, sadly.  But now it’s time to get back to the heart of what this blog was supposed to be all about in the first place.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my Classic Albums.

3. Metallica – Master of Puppets

Metallica’s third album, released in 1986, has long been regarded as the probably the best recording the band ever made.  Not only that, but one of the greatest metal albums of all time.  “Master of Puppets” is a monolithic album with an immense scope; hugely varied and still surprisingly experimental.

At the time I first heard this record, around 1987, I was listening to bands like Van Halen, Queen and Def Leppard.  A friend lent me a cassette of “Master of Puppets”; I was keen to try it out as there was such a buzz about this band.

Every time I hear the opening guitars of “Battery”, I’m transported back to that first listen.  And I remember how extreme it sounded to me at the time – I’d never heard anything this brutal before.

Following that was the title track, which was the most complex heavy composition I’d experienced.  A melodic instrumental section lulled me into a false sense of security before the relentless riff attack recommenced.

It was third track, “The Thing That Should Not Be”, that opened my eyes though.  A massive, monstrous riff that hooked me straight away.  That song was heavy and eerie all at once; it became a favourite that I still love and slowly, yet with growing confidence, I began to explore this album.

“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” begins with a mellower introduction and as such it’s one of the easier songs to appreciate on first listen.  Repeated plays over the years has dulled the impact of this track, for me personally – though it surprises me how good it actually is when revisited. 

Side Two of the album Kicks off with “Disposable Heroes”, is an anti war song that is intense and powerful.  One of my favourite tracks.  Then there’s “Leper Messiah”, a monster riff that incorporates faster sections as it proceeds.

The absolute highlight of the album is “Orion”, a fantastic prog-metal instrumental spanning over eight minutes.  This epic track proves beyond all others just why Metallica were – and still are – light years ahead of other thrash bands.

Finally, the last track – “Damage, Inc.” – is a violent berzerker of a song that might just take your face off.

With “Master of Puppets”, Metallica challenged themselves and their fans, as they expanded their sound and manifesto further than ever before.  If you want fast thrash, you’ve got it here.  Want heavy, down-tuned Sabbath riffs?  You’ve got that too.  There are even melodic sections that are actually enjoyable – and still uncompromising.

Metallica were utterly fearless in writing and recording this album, unafraid to try new ideas and never rest on past glories.  It’s not as heavy to my ears as it was on first listen thirty years ago, but every new spin of this record still has the power to thrill.

“Master of Puppets” is a timeless metal masterpiece.  It’s one of the essential records in my collection; it’s status a massively influential rock album – metal or otherwise – is assured for all time.

Metallica – Master of Puppets (1986)

  1. Battery
  2. Master of Puppets
  3. The Thing That Should Not Be
  4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
  5. Disposable Heroes
  6. Leper Messiah
  7. Orion
  8. Damage, Inc.

Best tracks: The Thing That Should Not Be, Orion, Battery, Master of Puppets, Disposable Heroes.

Other cool points: seriously great cover – you also need the t-shirt.