Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Nails - 88 Lines About 44 Women Go Ska!

When I was at Rutgers University in the 80's, the college radio station, WRSU-FM, was one of the leaders of the alternative college radio movement that launched bands like U2, R.E.M and XTC to U.S. audiences. They also played a song called "88 Lines About 44 Women" incessantly. The song was released in 1984 by The Nails, a New York City-based band. You couldn't turn on the station without hearing that song. I used to know almost all the lines about all the women. Later, when my band played a club called Gonzalez Y Gonzalez in New York City, we were given a lecture by an ex-member of the band who booked the club. He told us we were unprofessional for tuning on stage before our show and then also let us know he had played ska when we were all still in short pants. I thought nothing of it at the time.

Well, he was telling the truth. The Nails were another American band who dabbled in 2-Tone sounding ska at the same time the real thing was happening across the pond. The band was originally called the The Ravers and got their start in Boulder, Colorado. Like a million bands before them, they left for the bright lights of New York City where they became The Nails. Here they became a staple of the downtown New York music scene of the late 70's/early 80's and ska was a big part of their early set. The band released their third single, "Transcontinental Ska" backed by "Young And Wild" in 1980. Neither song appeared on an album (they didn't release their debut LP "Mood Swings" until 1984). The band disbanded in 1988. Their early roadie, Eric Boucher, went on to front Dead Kennedys under his new name, Jello Biafra.

However it was an early version of the non-ska song "88 Lines About 44 Women" on their "Hotel for Women" EP recorded in 1981 that caught the attention of RCA. The Nails were signed to RCA by Bruce Harris, also known for bringing The Clash to America. In 1984 "88 Lines About 44 Women" was re-recorded for RCA and included on The Nails' full-length debut LP, "Mood Swing". The song received regular airplay and became a staple of the 80's alternative/new wave scene. It also appears on just about every 80's New Wave compilation known to man.

For more information about The Nails you can visit their web site here.

Below is a link that will let you both stream and download both sides of the single:

The Nails - Transcontinental Ska/Young and Wild 7" Single


Anonymous said...

Marco, great post, interesting to hear about the Nails, but what got me was the Gonzalez Y Gonzalez reference. Saw a lot of great shows there, caught Second step there a bunch of times, but I don't think I was ever able to catch you guys there.


Marc Campbell said...


the guy who gave you the advice about not tuning up on stage was me, Marc Campbell. I was the lead singer for THE NAILS. And I booked Gonzalez. Thanks for mentioning my band on your blog.

Here's mine