Monday, July 03, 2006

On with the Offs

I was planning a post about SF ska-punk pioneers the Offs, but I was beaten to the punch by The Last Days of Man on Earth. What can a poor blog nerd do but pick himself up, dust himself off, and grab desperately at whatever tattered shreds of credibility remain? (Come to think of it, Strange Reaction posted an Offs single back in the fall.)

So, with a pitiful cry of, "Wait for me!" I stagger after the hipster train as it pulls away from the station. My three cents about the Offs:

$.01 - They were the first American ska-punk band. The Offs' first single was released the same week as the Specials' first single. The Offs also incorporated dub, funk, R & B, and a smidge of Krautrock into their sound.

$.02 - The Offs were unique among the first wave of West Coast punk bands in maintaining a home base on both coasts. In SF, their manager discovered the Deaf Club as a live venue, and the Offs released records on the labels CD Presents and 415 Records. In NYC, they hung out with Basquiat (who scrawled their album cover), and released a single on Max's Kansas City Records.

$.03 - The Offs' singer, Don Vinil, was one of the first openly gay people in the West Coast punk scene. V. Vale of Search and Destroy and RE/Search introduced Vinil to guitarist Billy Hawk after Vinil was kicked out of his first band, Grand Mal. Don Vinil died of a heroin overdose in 1983. Billy Hawk is apparently still around.

My favorite Offs song is their 1979 b-side, My World.

The band tears it up on James Brown's Think at the Mabuhay in 1980. They give the Contortions a run for their money here.

And here's the Offs' epic original, Die Babylon, from the compilation LP Can You Hear Me? Live at the Deaf Club in 1979. Kind of amusing to listen to Don Vinil decry "Jimmy Carter's cattle/Jimmy Carter's slaves" -- there was a far worse president to come, who was the governor of Don's home state at the time!

Buy The Offs Live at the Mabuhay Gardens from Vampir Records.


At 7/06/2006 6:27 PM , Blogger guanoboy said...

How did I miss these guys? Damn...and I thought I was on top of that era!

Weird...great stuff, thanks!

At 7/07/2006 9:43 AM , Blogger jon manyjars said...

Be sure to go by the blog Last Days of Man on Earth to get the Offs' album while it's still available there. And check out Guanoboy's venerable mp3 blog, GrapeJuicePlus! (See my sidebar for links to both blogs.)


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