What's This?

Release Date: April 01, 2008
Produced by: Skafish, Robin McBride
Format: CD



Matt Rowe


Let’s start this out with an introduction; a proper one since Skafish has never received their rightful due.  Formed in Chicago during the latter half of the ‘70s, they formed a sound that helped to change the way music was created, eventually blossoming into the Punk movement.  With an attitude and enough shocking behaviour to rile even the most rock ‘n’ roll of audiences, the band known as Skafish began a journey that ended all too soon, yet left behind a set of songs that were autobiographical or observational, and are still wonderful to hear today.

Back in mid-1978, I picked up an indie single in a college-town record shop filled to the brim with albums and singles from ‘on the edge’ bands.  I gained an education at this place but best remember it as the location that I found the Skafish single of “Disgracing the Family Name” b/w “The Work Song,” sleeved in a black and white photo of Jim Skafish on the cover.  These songs are raw, punkish, and extraordinary.  Eventually, they ended up on their debut IRS album, re-recorded and over-produced but still made the Skafish album one to enjoy.  But anyone who has heard the original track of “Disgracing the Family Name” will remember it for its unforgettably magnetic musical charm.

Released in 2007, this grand collection of 11 studio recordings (all original), is a historically important compilation.  The bulk of these tracks (9) are previously unreleased, with some representing music heard only from the band in re-recorded form on their debut S/T IRS LP (“Maybe One Time,” “No Liberation Here”).  Other songs found here are the original (and best) recordings of “Disgracing the Family Name” and “Work Song.”  Thankfully, the album is graced with excellent raw recordings of the previously mentioned and known tunes including an unheard studio version of the controversial song, “Sign of the Cross,” along with a spine-tingling “original” version of “No Liberation Here.”  The album adds several “lost” unheard early recorded tunes of “Executive Exhibitionist,” “Knuckle Sandwich,” “They Give You Bad Feelings,” “You Invited Me,” “Tattle Tale,” and “There’s a World.”   All of these songs contain the same spark that runs through the early self-produced, low-run singles (now referred to as the marketable Limited Edition).

But the fun doesn’t stop with the eleven songs.  Compiler, Jim Skafish, recorded and added five commentary tracks that span several informative subjects.  The subjects touch on the band’s recorded output, the Chicago music scene during their rising, the Skafish band, along with a short intro and a lengthy conclusion.  To further add value, Jim Skafish has assembled a 36-page, high-quality paper booklet with plenty of photos, credits, lyrics of all songs, and 4-page essay written by Cheap Trick, who rose to stardom around the same time that Skafish was rising.  They write from a first-hand account, having shared the stage.  They were as awed by Skafish as those that were aware of the band’s existence.

If you remember Skafish either from your Chicago days, or having witnessed his shocking performance of “Sign of the Cross,” with his swinging censor of incense on the music film, Urgh! A Music War, then a collection of this import is a must have set, more delightful than their two IRS albums.  “Sign of the Cross” is an early criticism of child molestations by priests, then not yet publicly revealed and reviled as it is today.  But the song likely put the screws to an engaging talent that found the strength to be a different kind of performer in a world of defined artists.  Sadly, Skafish disappeared leaving only his two big label albums, and a few obscure singles.  This collection brings all of that back and should be considered a priceless acquisition.









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212 Frech

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