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…

The Greatest Skateboard Graphic Ever

Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp “Face”

Everyone has their own personal choice.  Over the years I’ve seen many amazing skateboard graphics – some intricate, some clever, some stupid, some risque.  Back in the 80’s it was mostly skulls and gore.  At the end of the decade, these themes became extinct, replaced by ironic cartoons and brand logo appropriation.  You name it, it’s probably been featured on a deck somewhere.  There are great examples of art of all styles.

The two giants of skateboard graphics in the 80’s, at least in my eyes, were Vernon Courtland Johnson and Jim Phillips.  VCJ created the many iconic designs for Powell Peralta such as the Ripper and Skull and Sword.  Awesome graphics that made my eyeballs pop, as a kid nurtured on comic book art and monsters.

The art of Jim Phillips featured on many Santa Cruz decks, including classic pro decks for Jeff Kendall, Jeff Grosso and Jason Jessee.  My absolute favourite though was the Rob Roskopp street model, with a huge ugly face on it.

I first saw the Roskopp graphic in my sisters Smash Hits magazine, of all places.  They did one of those lame “introduction to skateboarding” type of features, with things like “how to talk like a skateboarder”.  It did feature UK hardcore band The Stupids however, and a model holding the deck in question.

As soon as I saw it, I loved that graphic.  It was big, bold and over the top – but beautifully detailed.

A couple of years later, I eventually acquired a Santa Cruz Roskopp Face of my own.  The deck itself was white, with the graphic in black screaming out from the bottom of the board.  I was very happy that regardless of the fantastic art, it was a great shape and well made board.  So the decision wasn’t made purely on the artwork. IMG_2797

I don’t remember what happened to that particular deck, I probably wore it out and swapped it with someone.  There’s a photo of it somewhere.

A few years ago, I picked up a reissue of the Roskopp deck.  It’s yellow, with the same great graphic as I had all those years ago.  It’s never been skated – I keep this one on the wall, right above my desk (I have other boards for actually skating).  It hangs there as a proud reminder, and an example of great skateboard art.  That’s what this skateboard is to me – pure art.

In my opinion, the Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp “face” is the best skateboard graphic ever.

Check out the latest reissue here.

The Santa Cruz website is here.

Skateboard Museum Update: Variflex Joker Photos

Variflex Joker – new photos

You may remember recently that my post about my Variflex Joker skateboard was the fifth most read article of the year.  All well and good, but the photo used to accompany that blog post wasn’t the best.

So I have attempted to make up for that earlier oversight here, with some more pics of the board in question.

Remember this skateboard isn’t the original one I rode in the 80’s – I found this on a site selling old boards and snapped it up.  It was brand new, complete – sealed in plastic and everything.  Nice bit of kit for my collection.

Please take a look at the original post about the Variflex Joker here.

Skateboard Museum: Variflex Joker

After the red plastic skateboard, I “graduated” to what was commonly known as a Turbo Two. These were larger, wider boards in the contemporary style, but cheap Far East versions. It was another step up, but I soon learned that the board wasn’t going to last long.

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Variflex Joker. Camera strap in view AGAIN.

My next skateboard was a slight step up again – a Variflex Joker. This was a complete board sold with higher grade components. Aluminium trucks, polyurethane wheels and the deck itself had a much nicer shape and feel.

The graphics were also a really good job and very much in the style of the time. A skull wearing a jester’s hat, with a playing card design. Not exactly Powell Peralta but still very cool. It actually looked like someone at Variflex had taken a sneak peak at VCJ’s sketchbook and stolen the idea. Powell must have been mad.

However Variflex were not in the best shape in the late 80’s – they’d fallen to being a purveyor of intro level complete boards and were not in the same league as Powell, Santa Cruz or Vision. A nice board for a starter, the Joker would also be superseded by a higher quality deck.

I kept the trucks and wheels though for a while, and put them on my next set up. This was a Zorlac deck which I rode for a while with the Variflex under carriage, until I was able to afford Indy’s and Santa Cruz wheels.

I don’t remember what happened to my original Variflex Joker. Around 2006 I found a website selling new Variflex skateboards – apparently old stock rather than re-issues – and picked this sample up for a very reasonable price. It was in perfect condition and came complete with all the plastics, everything. I’ve only ever ridden it a couple of times as this skateboard is really just a memento. It’s a great item to have in my Skateboard Museum.

Technical Specifications:

  • Length: 30.5″
  • Width: 10.25″
  • Wheelbase: 15.75″
  • Wooden deck with concave and kicktail (complete with griptape)
  • Metal Variflex trucks
  • Variflex Street Rage II wheels (polyurethane, estimated 90a)
  • Plastic rails, nose saver, tail saver, copers and lapper

Purchased from Skate Pool

Soundtrack: Metallica, Anthrax, The Stupids