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

I was aiming to do one of these Classic Album posts every month.  This is February’s…  These posts are dedicated to the timeless, irreplaceable classics of my music collection.

2. Sex Pistols – “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols”

By 1988 I was looking for something new, music wise.  I had trawled through loads of heavy metal, thrash metal and hardcore, and a lot of it was getting somewhat stale.  The next step to explore was looking like Motley Crue and WASP.  Luckily, something else came along instead.

I’d heard a Sex Pistols song on a late night rock show on the radio.  I’ve never been one to listen to the radio much.  However, when I heard “Anarchy in the UK”, I thought – that sounds great!  Guitars right up front screaming in your face and tons of energy.  The song stayed in my head and I considered saving up a few quid and making the Sex Pistols album my next purchase.  It would be quite a departure from a great deal of my other music; but with punk rock all over Thrasher magazine and skateboarding generally, it seemed the obvious choice. 136184.jpg SP

So I went into Penny Lane Records in Chester a couple of weeks later, and I bought the cassette.  The cassette!  Unbelievable.  One advantage was I had my Sony Walkman with me and could listen to it straight away.  What should I expect though?  My research had yielded a huge amount of scorn for the group – they couldn’t play, couldn’t sing, they were offensive.  Would the tape just be a horrid cacophony of unlistenable noise?  I pressed play.

I heard the jackboot march intro of first track “Holidays in the Sun” and then the music began.  Far from the despicable noise I’d been warned about, I found (much like “Anarchy…”) a sound that was thrilling, exciting, new.  It was rock music, but it was fast and intense and I knew this was what I had been looking for.

“Bodies” followed, and that song is even more exhilarating than the first.  A few rude words though, so don’t play this without headphones.  “God Save the Queen” was a total revelation – anti-establishment hatred wrapped up in the greatest rock riff ever.  Pure genius.  I’d never heard sentiments like that expressed in any form of popular culture before, and I loved it.  “Pretty Vacant” was actually very catchy, not in the least bit talentless noise.  And “Submission” was a change of pace – showing again that the Pistols were not one trick conmen.

Not all of “Never Mind the Bollocks…” is perfect.  I’ve never been a huge fan of “Seventeen”, for example.  Still that song is better than most bands manage in an entire career.

The music doesn’t sound shocking in this day and age, but lyrically we’re dealing with some raw stuff.  What a joy to behold in a Simon Cowell possessed world.

I ended up getting rid of the cassette and buying the album on vinyl later on.  I’ve still got it.  Of course, I then had the CD also.  I listened to it recently on my iPod and it still sounds fantastic.  Quite simply, every home should have a copy of this record.  “Never Mind the Bollocks…” is still, quite possibly, my favourite album of all time.  It opened my eyes (as well as ears) to something different.  It taught me that exploring music, even music that you might be concerned isn’t for you, will provide great results.

Don’t be afraid, try something new.  And listen to the Sex Pistols with the sound cranked up.  Because we still need to think differently, develop our own opinions, and be open minded.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is punk rock.

Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols

  1. Holidays in the Sun
  2. Bodies
  3. No Feelings
  4. Liar
  5. God Save the Queen
  6. Problems
  7. Seventeen
  8. Anarchy in the UK
  9. Submission
  10. Pretty Vacant
  11. New York
  12. EMI

Best tracks: God Save the Queen, Pretty Vacant, Holidays in the Sun, Bodies, Submission, Anarchy in the UK

Other cool points: one of the most iconic album covers of all time.

Buy this classic album here.