A couple of weeks ago, a stir was made in the internet skate pond by Life Extension dropping a section in the middle of their video set to the most ear bleedingly horrendous dubstep they could possibly find.
Once I was done beating the memory of it from my head, I started thinking about other sections from big name videos with terrible music. It didn’t take me long to think of a few to start with and before long I had a solid plan to sit here and pour scorn and bile across a slew of sections from skateboarding’s past. But the more I sat, procrastinating and putting it off, the more I realised that throwing negativity at peoples’ musical taste wasn’t the direction I wanted this article to go (I can happily do that from the corner of a pub or skatepark during the week with friends anyway). It’s easy to hate on shit, so rather than be a moany bastard I thought it was time to go the opposite way and put together a list of some of the music/skateboarding combinations which work together to make a timeless section.
I’ve stuck to videos from board and shoe companies or magazines, partially because otherwise this list would be impossible and partially because one of the many freedoms of the scene video is the chance to choose a track without thinking too hard about legal issues and royalty payments – this seemed the best way to narrow things down. Still, being a top ten this is pretty sparse and will have to skip some classics, but this is as good a starting point as any…
Eric Koston – Girl ‘Goldfish’ (Slick Rick – Cuz its Wrong)
A sample which is the epitome of 90s hip hop smoothness, Slick Rick’s laid back delivery and Koston’s nonchalant tech magic come together to create something special. This is the section which made me want to write a positive article.
Jason Jesse – Santa Cruz ‘Streets on Fire’ (Minutemen – Paranoid Chant/Bl’ast – Surf and Destroy)
The Santa Cruz/SST symbiosis was a fruitful one, seen at its best here with one of the best vert skaters of all time skating to two classic hardcore songs. The comedy quotes alone (‘I like to fall on my face, I like to hurt myself, I like everything’) would make this section worthy of legendary status, but some powerhouse vert tricks, the claustrophobic hardcore of the Minutemen and the barely channelled rage of Bl’ast seal the deal.
Dan Drehobl – Transworld ‘Free Your Mind’ (The Zombies – Time of the Season)
At the time (and possibly still to this day) the most expensive song rights ever bought for a skate video, Ewan Bowman and Jason Hernandez knew what they were doing with this one. Teaming up an underground legend known for transition shredding with an archetypal 60s pop song may seem odd, until you see it all come together in to one of the best Drehobl parts ever. China Banks get shredded, TNT gets involved, and somehow the sweet melodies and falsetto harmonies just make it gnarlier.
Alien Workshop and Dinosaur Jr.
I briefly considered trying to choose one section to demonstrate the symbiotic genius of the Alien Workshop/Dinosaur Jr. relationship, but soon realised that it was too much of a challenge. From the opening section of 1991’s Memory Code set to the dreamy guitar jamming of J Mascis’ ‘A Little Ethnic Song’, their connection continued to produce great sections until Workshop’s recent demise.
Nick Foster/Corey Chrysler – SMA ‘Debunker’ (Lard – Drug Raid at 4AM)
Two powerhouse ATV approaches to skateboarding which pretty much demand a gnarly soundtrack. SMA don’t fuck about and bring in the industrial hardcore noise of Lard, with a pummelling riff overlaid by the sounds of a simulated police raid and Jello Biafra’s distinctive vocal yelp. Both skaters and band are underrated as fuck!
Pat Smith – Black Label ‘Label Kills’ (Stiff Little Fingers – Alternative Ulster)
Unique street lines, handrails, fullpipe transfers; Pat Smith goes on an ATV rampage in this one, with Stiff Little Fingers at their best providing just the right sounds – Jake Burns’ gritty vocal seems to perfectly compliment a city skating vibe and leads you to wonder why Inflammable Material hasn’t been pillaged more often for video soundtracks?
Mark Channer – Unabomber ‘Headcleaner’ (Velvet Underground – The Black Angel’s Death Song)
British skateboarding has always by necessity utilised the dark, dirty streets of industrial towns and cities. The Velvet Underground’s career was based around romanticising dark, dirty streets, albeit those found across the Atlantic, which is perhaps why Mark Channer skating to ‘The Black Angel’s Death Song’ works so well. In fact the whole video is a master class in editing to the right music – I don’t even like half the songs in there, they use Radiohead for fuck’s sake, but somehow they make it work and you couldn’t imagine any section in the video set to anything else.
Stu Graham – Osiris ‘Feed the Need’ (The Pogues – Boys from the County Hell)
There was no way this wasn’t making the cut, transition destruction and my favourite band of all time. This sums up perfectly how subjective this article is; if you dream of watching Nyjah skate to Coldplay, this probably isn’t the section for you. Personally, I’m calling that ‘lend me ten pounds, I’ll buy you a drink’ a fucking rad lyric, and grinding up the side of an extension to BS disaster sugarcane is a fucking rad trick…so there.
Ali Boulala – Flip ‘Sorry’ (Gray Matter – Burn No Bridges)
Pissdrunx meets DC straight edge and it goes surprisingly well, in a classic video that maintains a(mostly) solid music selection despite the presence of that Country Life butter spokesman generally popping up to irritate throughout.
Clyde Singleton – World Industries/Blind/101 ‘Trilogy’ (Busta Rhymes – Whoo Haa)
Short and sweet, one of the loudest personalities in skateboarding meets one of the loudest in hip hop. Everything that needs to be said about ‘Trilogy’ has been really; it’s a legit classic with an amazing soundtrack throughout. The FS heelflip over a picnic table, the last couple of tricks at Hubba Hideout, steez overload!