If the statement on the reverse of the sleeve is to be believed, then this was “recorded at Samurai Sound Labs in Davis, California, with mixing taking place at Samurai Sounds Labs & Chris Molla’s-enormous-piece-of-squid-in-the-fridge-studios while most everybody was naked or wearing massive fur boas & platform shoes.”

If only mobile phones and social media had been around back in 1984, then we would have an idea whether it is fact or fiction.  After all, who keeps giant squid in their fridge?

Camper Van Beethoven aren’t all that well known beyond this particular single, released here in the UK in early 1985 on Rough Trade.  It made it all the way to #8 in the Indie Charts and was voted in at #47 in the end of the year Peel Festive Fifty.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think it is one of the finest, funniest, freshest and most wonderful songs from that era, one which always got me off my seat every time it was aired at an indie-disco or night out.  My use of the past tense reflects how long since any such event has taken place, and the likelihood that, I edge towards turning 60 in twenty-one months time, my dancing days, if not completely over, will be restricted, and I’d only be able to shake my thang to Skinheads if it was aired after I’d been sitting down for at least ten minutes after my previous exertions.

mp3: Camper Van Beethoven – Take The Skinheads Bowling

I didn’t pick this up this back in the day.  In truth, it passed me by in 1986 and my recollection of being introduced to it was via listening to the Peel end-of-year rundown, which I was taping onto cassette each night.  Even then, I didn’t go out and seek it out, which would likely have been difficult as Rough Trade singles (with the exception of The Smiths), certainly in Scotland, were hard to track down once the shops had sold out their initial allocation.  But it is one I sought out, via Discogs, not long after starting the blog reignited fully the passion for vinyl.

I’d like to think you’re all smiling while listening to this today.  It really is that sort of song……



  1. A firm favourite. I too would be hard pressed to stay seated if I heard this in a disco – in the days when I felt less like someone’s da or granda.

    There have been many covers of it. It may come as no surprise to learn that my favourite cover is the live version by The Hardy Boys – to be found somewhere on that there internet.

    I just recalled a night where I got to dance to ‘Skinheads’ and Mary Houdini (Dog Faced Hermans). Life can be good.

  2. Bought back in the day, and still played o a regular basis – and another that spans 2 generations of fans chez TGG.
    Sadly, at some point I do seem to have mislaid my copy of the 1988 “Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart” album, which was always an enjoyable listen.

  3. One of those songs that I’ve heard of but never heard, looking forward to listening – Thanks

  4. Thanks to bring back this song to my memory Jim. CvB had always a special attraction to me. I can’t tell you why but certainly because of this song. It was one the anthems of the left-wing corporation I was part of in these days. Always a pleasure to listen to it.

  5. I love this song, though I don’t remember it being played at the indie clubs in Bristol and Bath. It may fallen between the stools of not being Goth enough and not being British enough (tough when you’re from California). It probably says a lot about the vagaries of my collection, particularly in the more recent decades of cover-mounted CDs and online music, that I only have three other CvB songs: Northern California Girls from 2013’s La Costa Perdida and covers of Sara by Fleetwood Mac and – inexplicably – Pictures Of Matchstick Men by Status Quo.

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