23 Skidoo are a British band playing a fusion of industrialpost-punkalternative dancerock, and world music. The group was named after an early 20th-century American slang phrase that later made appearances in the works of Aleister CrowleyWilliam S. Burroughs, and filmmaker Julian Biggs.

History[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Formed in 1979 by Fritz Catlin, Johnny Turnbull and Sam Mills, and later augmented by Alex Turnbull and Tom Heslop, 23 Skidoo had interests in martial arts, Burundiand Kodo drumming, Fela KutiThe Last PoetsWilliam S. Burroughs, as well as the emerging confluence of industrialpost-punk and funk, heard in artists such as A Certain RatioThrobbing GristleCabaret VoltaireThe Pop Group and This Heat.[1]

Their first 7", "Ethics" was released in 1980, followed by "The Gospel Comes To New Guinea" & "Last Words" 12" single which was co-produced by Stephen Mallinder,Richard H. Kirk and Chris Watson from Cabaret Voltaire at their studio,The Western Works in Sheffield.[2] A Peel Session was recorded on September 16, 1981. Their debut album, Seven Songs, was released in 1982 and is said to evoke the claustrophobic humidity of an African forest.The album went straight to number 1 in the Independent charts."Seven Songs,which was recorded and mixed in 3 days,was co-produced by Tony,Terry and David aka Genesis P-Orridge and Peter Christopherson of Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV and engineer Ken Thomas.[3] A hastily executed EPTearing Up The Plans was produced in the absence of the Turnbull brothers, who were traveling in Indonesia.[4] The personality clashes that arose from this experiment resulted in guitarist Sam Mills and vocalist Tom Heslop leaving the band soon after. The band performed for the first time as a 3 piece, joined onstage by David Tibet of Current 93, at the first WOMAD festival.[5] This live performance would go on to become the first side of the band's most challenging release The Culling Is Coming which also features Skidoo's exploration into gamelan on side 2. The album resulted in the band being criticised for being 'too abstract'.[6]

1984 saw the arrival of bassist Peter "Sketch" Martin following the break-up of Linx.[7] Skidoo recruited Aswad's horn section for the "Coup" 12", which featured samples from Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now and which was interpolated from their track GIFU from the album Urban Gamelan (1984) . Urban Gamelan features Sketch on Side 1 and,on Side 2, the original 3 piece line-up experimenting with metal percussion using patterns inspired by gamelan.[8] After having been evicted from their rehearsal space at Genesis P-Orridge's 'Death Factory' the band shifted their focus towards hip hop and turned their attention to production and building a studio,Precinct 23.In 1987 they released a compilation album Just Like Everybody featuring work from this period.[9]

In 1987 the Turnbull brothers formed the Ronin label and released Jailbreak by Paradox, widely regarded as one of the first breakbeat records as well as tracks British photographer and maverick Normski and MC FORCE. In its later incarnation, Ronin released material by DeckwreckaRoots ManuvaSkitzMud Family and Rodney P amongst others.[10] They signed to Virgin Records in 1991 and were able to build a new studio with their advance. In 2000 they released a self-titled LP, which featured contributions from Pharoah Sanders and Roots Manuva. This was followed by a compilation of singles, The Gospel Comes To New Guinea in 2002, and for the first time on CD, reissues of Seven Songs and Urban Gamelan. In 2008 the expanded catalogue CD reissues were issued by LTM who also issued a double-vinyl edition of "Seven Songs" in 2012. This issue featured the 1981 John Peel session and 12" versions of Last Words and The Gospel Comes To New Guinea.

Discography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart placings shown are from the UK Indie Chart.[11]

Singles[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • "Ethics" 7" (1980) Pineapple (#47)
  • "Last Words" - 7" & 12" (1981) Fetish
  • "The Gospel Comes To New Guinea" 12" (1981) Fetish, reissued on CD (2002)
  • "Tearing Up The Plans" - 12" (1982) Fetish (#16)
  • "Coup" - 12" (1984) Illuminated (#3)
  • "Language" - 12" (1984) Illuminated (#6)
  • 23 Skidoo vs. The Assassins With Soul - 12" (1986) Illuminated (#15)
  • 400 Blows / 23 Skidoo "Assemblage" - 12" (1986)
  • Sulphuric Beats '88 - 12" (1988)
  • "Ayu" - 12", W/Lbl, Promo (2000)
  • "Dawning" - 12" & CD (2000)
  • "The Gospel Comes To New Guinea" / "Coup" - 12" (2001)

Albums[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Seven Songs (1982) Fetish, reissued on CD (2001) Ronin (#1)
  • The Culling Is Coming (1983) (#8)
  • Urban Gamelan - (1984) Illuminated, reissued on CD (2001) Ronin (#1)
  • Just Like Everybody (1987) Bleeding Chin (#29)
  • The Culling Is Coming LP & CD (1983) Operation Twilight, reissue (1988) L.A.Y.L.A.H., (2003) Boutique
  • 23 Skidoo - 2xLP & CD (2000)
  • Just Like Everybody Part Two CD (2002)

Video[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Seven Songs / Tranquiliser I & II - VHS (1984)
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