"A Visual Sound" Sick Boy Serenade
AVS #5 | “Sick Boys” (1988)
It’s been twenty years. Twenty years since the skateboard masses have been grossed out by Bryce Kanights’ “breakfast of champions”. A pinnacle of wilderness in the streets, Sick Boys was now-famous snowboard movie mogul Mac Dawg’s first effort, and remains as one of the first flicks heavy on actual street skating –i.e. not that many ho-ho plants.
The hour-or-so film, directed by “your mama” as the ending credits states, featured the mid-‘80s cream of the crop, including Natas, Jim Thiebaud, a handrail f-side boardsliding Julien Stranger, Mic E Reyes, Ron Allen, Cab, Tommy Guerrero, and even Chris Branagh, skateboarding’s own white Gary Coleman. Plus about a million other people, unoficially starting the H-Street’s school of video making.
While some rememeber it as one of the most quotable skate videos of all time ( “You need big balls to do that and Mick E Reyes surely doesn’t lack in that category”, or the even awesomer “Sometimes we take the locals for a ride into the G-Forces of hell”), others used it to discover some of the rawest skate-rock ever, and again, nobody’s talking Pennywise’s blue album here. More so The Boneless Ones, Wonderful Broken Thing, Verbal Abuse, M.A.R live, MDC, MCM And The Monster… Most of them coming from the mythical Berkeley-based label Boner records, and all captured in the lowest fidelity lowfi can offer.
Young students, Sick Boys’ soundtrack has “classic” written all over it, no wonder the video itself is being reissued as we speak. Welcome to a crazy world full of airwalk ollies, wall rides, crazy headbands and pools. Wait, what year was that, again?
Thee Fourgiven : It Ain’t Pretty Down Here
Tune used: You Can Come To My Room (skate camp)
In 1988, things were a lot different, probably. Because a song called You Can Come To My Room wouldn’t first come to mind nowadays to back up a skate-camp section, with all the strict rules and the little kids and everything. Very taboo. Anyway, what can be heard from the tune worked perfectly to accompany a hefty dose of curves destruction courtesy of Tony Mag, Bod Boyle, plus a Derby Park-wrecking Tony Roberts, and comes from the first album ever recorded by Thee Fougiven. How did Mac Dawg get a hold of them? Not too hard to guess, since Thee 4-G got started by Venice legendary skater Ray Flores (bass/vocals) and his buddy Matt Roberts (“drums, garbage can, screams”, his bio states), after they both left The Unclaimed.
Musically, this sounds like a blend of punk rock with subtle touches of psychobilly and drunken exotica –a prerequisite when your album is out on a label that pays hommage to the god of wine, Dionysus- and could have been the last, because Matt allegedly left the band for “a couple of weeks” and didn’t return for several years.
Thankfully though, Ray Flores wasn’t the only skater/muscian around and brought Bela Horvath to the mix, taking the band on two memorable Europe tours, where they opened for The Miracle Workers and… The Unclaimed, that ended up quitting one week after the beginning of the journey. Even though they broke up in 1989, Thee Fourgiven are still around, and were planning in early 2007 to release a compilation album. No news since. The producer must have gone on a trip for a few weeks.
Verbal Abuse : Just an American Band
Tune used : Social Insect (plus two)
In the early ‘80s, Verbal Abuse was such a hardcore punk classic that Mac Dawg made sure everybody got it, using no less than three of their tunes from their 1983 Just An American Band LP. A classic among classics, straight out of the very same Bay Area scene that gave birth to the Dead Kennedys or Fear. Which means expect some simple, raw, in-your-face kind of tunes, all screamed in the most sociopathic fashion, and not some of that feelings-driven emo music. Heaven knows the Texas transplants felt miserable then, no reason for it to have changed some odd 25 years later…
Regarding this classic LP (Remember Slayer’s Undisputed Attitude hardcore covers album?), the purists already own its original version out on Bitzcore records, of course. Yet, they don’t frown upon the reissue put out by the skateboard company/skate-rock label Beer City a few years back, for it includes also a 1984 live in New York. Who cares? Anybody who enjoys one more Black Sabbath cover (Paranoid), and more incongruitously a mind-blowing version of We’re an American Band, by the kinda cheesy arena-rock stars Grand Funk Railroad!
MDC : Smoke Signals
Tune used: Missile Destroyed Civilization (Blood Bowl session)
Before the NoFX singer felt the urge to write a song about how he hates shower days, American punk was used to address issues a bit less captivating: political and social problems, for instance. Very, very boring. Plus, like, dude, it hurts your head.
Totally oblivious to the fact of one day being picked to set the mood of a session at the Blood Bowl in a skateboard video, Austin-based band MDC was definitely one of these bricks thrown in The Man’s windows. A heavy brick, thrown from the guts. Yeah, this section is now written by Jello Biaffra, did you notice? Did you even read that far? I hope not.
All this to say that even with its strong political stance and all, the outfit formed in 1979 in Austin as The Stains didn’t forget a little touch of humour, once they switched to MDC the following year, changing on each album the meaning of their initials. Millions of Dead Cops being the most famous one, they also called themselves successively Multi Death Corporation, Millions of Dead Children, Millions of Dead Christians, Millions of Damn Christians, Metal Devil Cokes, and Magnus Dominus Corpus. Like Verbal Abuse, they relocated to San Francisco in 1982 after a bumpy ride that notably included a fiasco of a Bad Brains/Big Boys/MDC Rock against Reagan Tour, after Bad Brains left when HR found out that the Big Boys’ singer was gay… PMA, bros, PMA!
Missile Destroyed Civilization came out on their second, maybe more rockish 1986 album Smoke Signals, and for once here’s a band that didn’t water down excessively as the years went by. Well, everybody has the right to have mixed feelings regarding their hip hop/vegan tune from Hey Cop! If I Had a Face Like Yours but all in all, MDC’s career stayed pretty straight. Still active and now set in Portland, its members still haven’t written a song about the delights of not showering.
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