Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rare Live Footage of The Untouchables From 1984

The Untouchables (The UTs) 'Wild Child' album was released 27 years ago during the spring of 1985. It remains one of the earliest and most popular examples of purely American-styled 2-Tone ska that combined soul, pop and funk.  Some rare live footage of the band performing a show at the iconic rock club The Distillery in San Diego in 1984 has recently surfaced.  While many of the songs from this show did not make it on to any of the band's subsequent records, they showcase the band's more mod and rock inspirations as well as their stage moves.

The success of The Untouchables and their giant step from local Los Angeles ska/mod heroes to a major label deal with Stiff Records in the U.K. is a classic story about how old fashioned DIY marketing, self-promotion and good luck used to work in the music business. And it didn't hurt that the band were a great live draw up and down Southern California.

The band were a huge inspiration to me as a young ska and 2-Tone obsessed teen and a show I saw them play opening for UB40 at Fordham University here in New York City in 1985 helped convince me to start my own ska band. I've had the honor and pleasure of interviewing both original band vocalist Kevin Long and keyboardist/organist Josh 'Acetone' Harris who both played key roles in the initial success of the band in Los Angeles (Long) and its later international success for Stiff Records (Harris).

The UTs exploded out of the O.N. Klub in Los Angeles in 1981 and soon provided the soundtrack for the ska/mod revival that spread like wild fire across Southern California in the early 80's. The band quickly outgrew the small confines of the O.N. Klub as word of their live show grew and they sold out several self-released 7" singles. According to a 1985 Billboard story, the band raised $15,000 from private investors (who were paid back with interest!) and recorded the well-received 'Live & Let Dance' EP on the indie Twist Records label. Next they invested an additional $7,000 to produce a video for the song 'Free Yourself' which started to generate television airplay. As a result the EP sold 40,000 copies and the video won the 1985 award for best independent video from Billboard Magazine. The band also made memorable movie cameos in 'Repo Man' and 'Party Animal'.

Without further ado, I transport you back to 1984.....

Who's Who

The New Breed

Public Enemy #1

Perfect Partners

Whatcha You Gonna Do?

Overcrowded Hell

Future Of The Globe

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