Sure, it might have been Santa Cruz videos’ ugly duckling of the golden age. Not easy to be noticed in between all the Streets on Fire and the Risk Its out there, especially when the riders’ list on the sleeve bears no less than 37 names, each one receiving a minute-or-so section. But so was A Reason For Living, the ultimate socialist dream where Sheffey, Dressen or Stranger received an equal treatment as, no offense, Troy Sliter or Beaze Lovelace -little known fact: these 56 minutes also invented the vert button on remotes worldwide.
In retrospect though, it might have been actually one of NHS’s best, come to think of it. What un-curious ’90s skaters never understood at the time was that this vid was one of these pivotal moments when the old and the new worlds in skateboarding collided, as the cover montage attested : Bod Boyle fastplanting over a curb-tailsliding Tom Knox. Anyway, bullshit-ish philosophical considerations aside, A Reason For Living also had of the best, most classic skate-rock soundtracks ever. Here are three out of the many albums that made this venerable 1990 film a reason for not leaving your living room.
They say that in LA, it’s who you know. Ah, the clichés… Well, sometimes they’re true. Without their number one fan/friend Flea (of Vision Red Hot Skate Rock fame, or that one local LA hair-funk band), The Weirdos would never have recorded a proper album (Condor), even if it happened almost 15 years after they originally broke up. Oh well. Sounds like the fate of a lot of the LA early punk bands -think Crime, The Screamers…- that ability not to be able to get a record deal in a city that hosted pretty much the whole record industry of their time.
No worries, though : thanks to their numerous singles, four drummers, five bass players and unique frontman John Denny’s throat and disturbing antics, The Weirdos’ four-years stint made them 80s skateboarding’s deities, therefore a skate vid music staple -they also landed a tune in Sick Boyz’ soundtrack, remember? For those who didn’t know, the real antiheroes of LA’s true punk-rock, from before the suburbian/Oxnard wave that is, got summed-up on that more-than-decent 14 tracks album.
It’s always painful to hear people like Fallout Boy mention who their local hero band was when they grew up: Naked Raygun, they always say. But oh well, that’s the price to pay when you play with fire and start mixing punk-rock with pop-er, more melodic, influences. Exactly what Chicago-based Naked Raygun did. Only, since they and say Hüsker Dü were pioneering the genre, it sounded good.
The problem is that Naked Raygun opened the door in the process for all sort of OC apprentices, think Pennywise, Big Drill Car, or any punk-ish band involved in Questionnable or your average FMX TV show.
Anyway. The second to last album put out by the band in 1989, Understand?, was and still is a gem, and happened right before some of Naked Raygun’s members went on and experienced different fates, rolling with Big Black for guitarist Santiago Durango (good), and joining mid-90s 411-vids heartthrobs Pegboy for singer Marko Pezzati (not so good) *.
Of course, as everybody else, Naked Raygun reformed in 2006 for a bunch of shows, but I’ve always felt uneasy with older dudes shaking their bellies on stage -reminds me too much of when I go to the skatepark these days. On a side note, that tune Treason was also on a 12″ on Caroline Records, 2500 of them got printed. Good luck with that.
With its tribal-like percussions and random vocal samples, it’s pretty safe to assume that Needle Park by San Jose-based industrial band Diatribe, contributed to the then-unsolved mystery surrounding Natas Kaupas, back in a time when when his latest move, pants, and Venice-curb dancing was scrutinized to the fullest. As his later 101 satanic model, this tune is as hard as it gets to find, as it appeared only, correct me if I’m wrong, on a joyous compilation of industrial rock called The Cyberflesh Conspiracy.
A few years after an industrial-ish incursion in a Santa Cruz video, via the Ministry/Ian Mc Kaye project Pailhead in Streets On Fire, A Reason For Living kept the genre alive in the skateboard world. Not for long, though. Soon after the admirable swan song that SMA’s Debunker was, Santa Cruz jumped the ship straight into a pair of giant trousers and offered the world the infamous Big Pants Small Wheels video. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It just felt a bit contrived.
* : See comments section. Or even better: http://www.punkdatabase.com/wiki/Main_Page