Skafish – Disgracing The Family Name

Skafish – Disgracing The Family Name// Work Song(Illegal Records) 1979. Do you know a lot about Jim Skafish? I didn’t either. I saw him in Urgh! A Music War many years ago. He’s towards the end and he does the song Sign of the Cross. I remember he had a minor college radio hit in 1983 called Wild Night Tonight that was really cool. I could tell from the limited exposure that I had to the guy that he was definitely unique. As his website states Skafish had a, “a huge hook nose, meaty 6 foot 3 frame, and the suggestion of breasts that was underscored and emphasized by degradingly gender-bending clothing”.

His music on the site is described as atonal and that may be the case but these two early tracks are pretty punky. Both sides of this 45 are amazingly cool in that head bopping, put a big stoopid smile on your face way. They are instantly catchy, quirky and offbeat. The cover is great too. Jim Skafish looks like a circus freak from the 1920s on it. Comparisons to early Suburban Lawns and Devo are apt I think.

Skafish in 1977 – Photo by Dan Winner
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5 Responses to Skafish – Disgracing The Family Name

  1. Gareth says:

    “Skafish earned a living as a music teacher–a radical contradiction to the story on his site.”

    Eh? It says on the site that he made a living as a music teacher, around the early 80s I believe. Contradiction how?

    I desperately want to like this guy – the music described on site (20th century harmonics combined with free jazz and rock, proto new wave etc) sounded like my cup of tea and his whole freak / ostracized and bullied / weird appearance thing was almost like reading about myself (there is, sadly, a vague similarity in appearance). Plus the lyrics are unique as it gets – can’t think of anyone who’s really talked about the sort of stuff he talks about in the way he does, without beating round the bush with metaphors like most angst rock people do. He just says it. Still, I guess there were people like Gainsbourg before him.

    But fact is, the records is naff. It’s like synthy showtuney 70s pop rock, a few good moments but mostly bland and musically no different to loads of bands/artists from back then (Todd Rundgren, Cheap Trick etc.) which wouldn’t be bad if the music was decent. Plus the site just seems like a load of revisionist hype by some bitter git. Apparently Skafish pioneered every genre to come out of the last quarter of the 20th century. I don’t doubt that Stan Kenton, Willie Dixon etc. bummed him so hard without reason, or that Skafish is a virtuoso musician or a genius or whatever. Maybe live it really was amazing, and I bet his jazz piano record is good. Just the stuff that’s been released is unconvincing.

  2. pete says:

    just listening to the urgh sound track[double vinyl] bought it in 1980 mainly for the cramps[were hard to get here in kiwi-land]some great stuff on here,when people made music without the idea of making money off of it.

  3. Skafish is brilliant.
    I love his music.
    Wish I knew more about him as a person though.
    He’s truly a fascinating character.
    I think he’s been through a lot of hardship.
    “Disgracing The Family Name” is absolutely superb.

  4. Dan says:

    I have worked with Jim in the past and in fact I took the picture on this site in my basement in 1977. I can tell you that his best music was NOT on the 2 albums he recorded for IRS records, who basically censored him. If you want to here what made him great you need to get his newly realeased cd of his pre IRS days called “What’s THis”. It contains the music of his original band from 1976 to 1979.

  5. Joe says:

    @Dan – I actually link to the record at the end of the review. Great CD! Also, your photo for the 7inch is absolutely amazing!

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