Nine years. It’s 2G9 and some people in the rancid, stale farts circles such as yours truly had never seen this cornerstone of a skateboard flick before. True story. You will soon, some of its most hardcore fans were threatening me, or else…
Under constant peer pressure, I had to give in some day. I mean, what annoying elitist can spend almost a decade not marvelling at this deluge of hammers, nor at these hilarious Pissdrunks antics, nor at the ridicule being minutiously made out of the security guard community? Who, right? Ashamed of myself, I pressed ‘Play.’
Even though I might be a bit too old to even grasp the full palette of its benefits for modern skateboarding -a sad état des lieux since I have enjoyed in the past little shits playing with worms, thanks to a steady Rubbish Heap regimen– what did do it for me was Baker 2G’s soundtrack, once my ears got used to slaloming around the slow-motioned laughs.
All mandatory albums aside, which need to be owned before even daring to read furthermore (The Animals, Bad Brains, Pixies, Ramones), here are three other classic discs to check out from these days and age where the crew now gone mostly Piss-sober started to have a death wish.
Tommy James & The Shondells : Crimson and Clover
Tune used : Crimson & Clover (Andrew Reynolds)
Around the same age Knox Godoy was crank-calling Chad Fernandez, Tommy James was already singing in his first band, Tom and The Tornadoes. He was 12, and the year was 1959. Four years later, displaying early entrepreneurial skills that TK wouldn’t deny, he decided to rename his band The Shondells as an homage to one of his idols, guitarist Troy Shondell. This is where the Baker Boys analogy stops. After their first single, Hanky Panky, flopped in 1963, The Shondells just disbanded and everybody went their own way. The only problem? Well, hum, actually, it took two years BUT the tune became a #1 hit, after a Pittsburg radio station DJ rediscovered it, and created such a buzz that Tommy had to assemble a new band to perform at clubs. In the meantime, around 80,000 bootlegs –no Baker-related pun intended- of Hanky Panky had sold on the black market…
The whole thing allowed the new Shondells to take a second chance, which they didn’t miss, to such an extent that they scored another #1 hit, with Crimson And Clover, 32 years before even realizing how one day, this tune would be the background to one of the parts that made Andrew Reynolds a Boss.
The whole album that ensued, pretty far from the bubble-gum movement they were very part of, became an instant psychedelic rock classic as well, and features two versions of Crimson and Clover, including a very trippy, electronically-enhanced one. It made such an impact that the tune itself got covered by Joan Jett in 1982. Oh well.
Downbeat The Ruler : Best Of Studio vol.3 comp.
Tune used : Man In The Street, by Don Drummond (Evan Hernandez)
In pre iced-out and rim sponsors ages, Evan Hernandez’ skateboarding was the one of a really talented little kid, festive and joyous. Hence the clever choice of a classical ska tune. Which contasts with one of Jamaica’s best trombone player’s dark minded career. Because yes, despite his brilliance, besides his joining of the all-time most mythical ska band The Skatalites (RIP Johnny “Dizzy” Moore, the latest one to pass away), Don Drummond had a deathwish too. He died at 27, in 1969, but before that he had time to play on numerous hits and sessions for the Studio One or Top deck labels, and also to murder an exotic dancer in 1965, which led him to the mental institution where he died four years later. Officially from committing suicide but hey, this is Jamaica so all options are for grabs : his band mates always thought of a governmental plot, others saw a vendetta orchestrated by the dancer’s protectors.
No matter what, a tragic loss. Live fast, die young, here’s the punk connection for a flick that doesn’t bare one, but TWO reggae songs (Ring the Alarm by Tenor Saw, being the other one) -we’re pretty much talking Satori/Creation ratio here. Thanks for the treat, though.
On a side note, even though Evan’s Man In The Street song most likely came from the Don Drummond Best Of album, and appears on dozens of records, maybe pick this Best Of Studio One vol.3 compilation. More obscure instrumentals, plus it doesn’t have one over-heard Bob Marley tune on it. Treat number two.
The Modern Lovers : Precise Modern Lovers Order
Tune used : Roadrunner (Elissa Steamer)
So yeah, you probably know already about early punk icon Jonathan Richman, how he got obsessed with The Velvet Underground and started his kind of visionary band The Modern Lovers in a proto-garage punk fashion, how some of its members later joined the Talking Heads or The Cars. What’s less known is this : some might remember his tune Egyptian Reggae, in the ‘80s. Well, it was a cover of a Jamaican singer’s tune, None Shall Escape, and its author, Earl Zero, happened to have just moved to the US and to have caught wind of it, as no royalties were allegedly paid.
Today, Earl Z swears that Jonathan was really surprised to see him show up at one of his shows and thought he was up for one of these old-fashioned Jamaican-style beat-downs –or better, as ratchet knives were still the rage in the island’s musical community. But the two talked and are now friends, Jonathan came out unscathed, and later versions of Egyptian Reggae bared Earl Z’s name as a co-author.
What does it have to do with Elissa’s tune? Nothing, it was just the written version of a bum fight in slow-motion in the middle of a skate video. More seriously though, Roadrunner came out on the gem of a post-breakup album, Modern Lovers (1976), a rare three-chord rock effort in an ocean of glam. Real pionneer sound, highly regarded in punk and indie circles.