Released here in the UK on Rough Trade Records in 1986, I was very surprised to learn that it was only ever an album track in their native USofA:-

mp3 : Camper Van Beethoven – Take The Skinheads Bowling

This is an utterly joyous two and a bit minutes, and it’s opening few bars are guaranteed to cheer me up and make me smile no matter how foul a mood I’m in. One of the greatest and catchiest sing-a-long songs of all time, and yet its success caught the composer, David Lowery, by surprise:-

“I never thought that Take the Skinheads Bowling would become a Hit. If someone had traveled from the future and told me we would have a hit on our first album I would not have picked this song as being the hit. Not in a million years. I would have more likely picked Where the Hell is Bill.

Why? We regarded Take The Skinheads Bowling as just a weird non-sensical song. The lyrics were purposely structured so that it would be devoid of meaning. Each subsequent line would undermine any sort of meaning established by the last line. It was the early 80′s and all our peers were writing songs that were full of meaning. It was our way of rebelling. BTW this is the most important fact about this song. We wanted the words to lack any coherent meaning. There is no story or deeper insight that I can give you about this song.”

Here’s the other bits of music  made available on the 12″ single:-

mp3 : Camper Van Beethoven – Cowboys From Hollywood
mp3 : Camper Van Beethoven – Aktuda
mp3 : Camper Van Beethoven – Colonel Enrique Adolfo Bermudez

In case you are wondering who the subject matter of the last song is, (he is described on the back on the sleeve as ‘a real bastard’)…..he was one of the founders of the armed contra army which was formed to oppose  the Sandinista government of Nicaragua and which had very controversial links with American military intelligence throuighout the 80s.

Click here for a brief bio.



  1. I am never quite sure why this song didn’t register with me when it was released. Its so brilliant. I only came across it when I bought a Manics cd from a bargain bin that had covers of this, Velocity Girl and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”

  2. Okay, now you’re in my wheelhouse. CBV are the California equivalent of half the bands that turn up in your ‘Scottish Single’ series. There is a great super-low budget video for ‘Skinheads’ that’s excellent. A sing-along favorite for everyone of my vintage and included in the setlist of my cover bands for years. Funny to see it here right next to Loch Ness!

  3. I saw your headline and took it as a challenge! If anyone’s going to defy you, I will! Then I saw the song you were referring too and I completely agree. If there’s anyone who doesn’t like ‘Skinheads…’, they clearly need medical attention.

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