Crowdsource Alert: Skafish Debut Album Now On Shiny Silver Disc

39 Years later, another one’s off The List

Skafish: Skafish DLX RM US CD [2019]

  1. Introduction
  2. Joan Fan Club
  3. Maybe One Time
  4. Obsessions Of You
  5. We’ll See A Psychiatrist
  6. Romantic Lessons
  7. Work Song
  8. Guardian Angel
  9. Disgracing The Family Name
  10. No Liberation Here
  11. Take It Out On You
  12. Sink Or Swim

A little over three years ago, I reported that the debut album by Jim Skafish, one of the earliest releases by I.R.S. Records, and definitely one of the idiosyncratic eddies of the American New Wave, had reverted to Skafish’s ownership. He set about making a new remaster and wanted to get this work out into the world again. And now, its time has come. I just got word a few days ago that Skafish has begun a Kickstarter campaign to allay the reproduction costs of the CD production. His goal was not to make profit necessarily, but to get the CD made at cost. An honorable aim! The campaign began five days ago and I’m happy to report that the campaign is closing in on double its modest goal already.

Illegal Records | US | 7″ | 1980 | IR 9011

So that’s great news, there. On the other hand, three years ago the non-LP B-side to the “Obsessions Of You” [above] US 7″ was a track called “Sink Or Swim.’ At the time, it had not been mooted as part of the project, but in the interim, the decision was made to add it to the project. Mastering engineer Trevor Sadler [Tony Levin, Sheila Chandra, NIN] obtained two sealed copies of “Skafish” to draw upon as mastering source 35 years later. Along the way, clean copies of the “Obsessions Of You” single must have been obtained as well. Then the decision was: how do we tweak the vinyl for mastering? They could opt for a “flat transfer” and reproduce the vinyl with utmost fidelity; remembering that the original master tape was shaped and molded sonically for its eventual home on PVC. Or the EQ could be radically recast for its new home on CD and DL. After mulling the decision, the goal was not to make it sound radically different, just a better version of what it always was. These are questions I wrestle with myself when mastering from vinyl [not that I’ve done any of that lately!]

mastering engineer Trevor Sadler in his domain

The Facts

Of course a Kickstarter campaign has various levels of buy-in. This time there are several options.

  • DL only – $10
  • CD/DL – $15
  • Autographed CD/DL – $25
  • Autographed Poster + CD/DL – $35
  • Album Cover T-shirt/Autographed CD/DL – $50
  • Fan Pack – all of the above – $75
  • Super Fan Pack – All of the above plus album postcard, sticker, 15 minute Skype call with Jim Skafish – $125

There are still 25 days to go on the campaign and some high rollers have grabbed up some of the high end packages. I was looking just for a CD and I was going to “sweeten the pot” with more than the scanty $15 asked, but the T-shirt package really taunts me. The notion of that powerful image on a T-shirt really makes a statement. I have enough in sales from my Discogs store to pledge for the CD now. But the notion of that T-shirt tempts me. We’ll see where this trend goes, but in the meantime, anyone pining for the high-impact psychodrama that Skafish bought to the plate need only hit that button below.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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19 Responses to Crowdsource Alert: Skafish Debut Album Now On Shiny Silver Disc

  1. SimonH says:

    I’ve just gone for the cd. Fair price but once you factor in Brexit style exchange rates and shipping not so cheap! I’m getting used to that though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      SimonH – Then we’re even then! I just got some things from the UK and postage cost about as much as the item. And the item was more than that CD. But you will have one of 250 CDs of “Skafish.” Worth the cost, eh? Now that this has been done, I need to make that CD of “Conversation.” If I ever get free time in my hell-world again.

      Short CD runs are now pretty much the norm. Almost every CD seems like a “limited edition.” It boggles my mind to think that almost everything I want to buy on CD in this millennium thus far has probably had a print run that would be 1000 copies or less. I think the days of mass market CDs are long gone. I wonder how many titles of the CDs manufactured each year are greater than a thousand? I bet the percentage would shock me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH says:

        Very true re limited runs, it’s kind of sneaked up on me, you really can’t afford to hesitate.
        Which was exactly what I thought here, no way I was missing out.
        It’s funny when I first started buying stuff online it was cheaper for me to buy some new releases from HMV Canada than the UK even with shipping!

        Liked by 1 person

        • postpunkmonk says:

          SimonH – I hate that feeling of knee-jerk “must purchase NOW, puppet” that hangs over almost everything I want. I was used to waiting years to buy things at my budgetary leisure. None of that happening any more!

          Liked by 1 person

    • skafish says:

      SimonH, I just wanted to say that I appreciate your support of the project, truly!

      Like

    • skafish says:

      SimonH, I know the exchange rates and buying out of the country can add up – again, thanks for helping to make the reissue happen!

      Like

      • SimonH says:

        Hi Jim
        I appreciate you taking the trouble to complete this project, much appreciated.
        We in the UK brought the exchange rate problems on ourselves sadly!
        BW
        Simon

        Like

  2. Skafish says:

    Hey, I just wanted to say thank you so much for writing an article about the crowdfunding campaign for the album’s reissue. I’m really excited for you to be able to hear the remastered version. Like I have said, it is the same record; it just sounds better!

    Sink or Swim was always available from the studio tapes and remastering from vinyl was never on the table for that track. For the rest of the album, we went back and forth between whether to do it from vinyl or tape, but ultimately, we did remaster the album from tape. In my opinion, Trevor did a magnificent job.

    Again, thanks for your support! It is appreciated, Jim

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Skafish – Welcome to the comments! Thanks for the updated info on the mastering sources. I was operating on what I had heard several years ago when the wheels slowly began turning after regaining the rights happened. Having rights revert after 35 years is difficult enough, but obtaining a master from the label is again something else. Especially in this “big three” landscape where the location of a master is sometimes completely up in the air after a never-ending series of buyouts by moneymen. At least your tapes weren’t burnt to a cinder like those artists under the UMG umbrella! [rolls eyes] Strangely enough, you have already worked with one of my friends and commenters, JT, a Chicago engineer who has done some transfers of material for you, if memory serves.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Skafish says:

    I believe you mean James! Yes, he worked on my What’s This? 1976-1979 tape transfers along with some other tapes. Re the debut album, It was a process legally to get the rights back, but I’m so glad it was done! Now, the record can be back out there.

    I feel for everyone whose tapes were burned – Horrific! Again, thanks for your post!!

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Skafish – Yes, that was him. He told me some years back that he was transferring some archival material for you but I could not verify that it was in fact the “What’s This? 1976-1979” comp. The wheels started turning on this reissue in 2016 and at first you described using unplayed LPs for mastering. I’m glad you were able to source actual master tapes as it probably accounted for the subsequent three years of time! Even safety copies would be better than vinyl.

      Liked by 1 person

      • skafish says:

        PPM, Tape turned out to be so much better than never played vinyl! We had copies of the final 2 track master made in the original studio back in 79-80. The source material we had was great! Again, Trevor did a fantastic job. Like me, he is willing to pay attention every detail!

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Skafish – I’m glad you were able to track down the two track master. That can be like archaeology after so many years. Except archaeologists don’t have to contend with lawyers.

          Like

  4. Zach says:

    I’ve long been interested in checking out Skafish’s music since seeing their performance in Sign of the Cross in Urgh, A Music War. The sacrilegious lyrics, strong guitarist and rhythm section, choral-style backing vocalists, and the sight of Jim Skafish dancing onstage while wielding a smoking goblet (at least, that’s what it looked like to me) all added up to a fascinating experience. I’ll spring for the CD reissue for certain. I am so excited to see that Jim Skafish was able to acquire the rights to the self-titled debut LP back, something that few other I.R.S. alumni have been able to achieve. The only other former I.R.S. artist I know of who bought back their masters was Suburban Lawns. Futurismo released the Suburban Lawns’ self-titled 1981 LP and 1983 Baby EP on 1 CD in 2015. I highly recommend the Suburban Lawns release to you, PPM, and others interested in wacky art-punk

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Zach – The “smoking goblet” is called a “censer” in Catholicism. And yes, Skafish is a fascinating experience! Here was an artist out to make an IMPACT. “Sign Of The Cross” was on the earlier CD release “What’s This? 1976-1979” and can be found on Skafish’s Bandcamp page. If his performance in “Urgh! A Music War” didn’t grab you, I don’t know what would. I’d read fascinating things about him before hearing the music so I was certainly “primed.” I have a nearly complete Suburban Lawns collection… on vinyl! I still need that CD!

      Like

    • skafish says:

      Zach, acquiring the rights was a process and I am so glad I stayed with it – the record sat on the shelf for decades; IRS never even bothered to do a CD or digital release of the record, ever! I wanted it to be out there for the fans and I’ve tried to make sure it is the best it can be for everyone! Thanks for supporting the reissue project – it means a lot!!!

      Like

  5. I think I’m gonna hafta go for the autographed CD. I’m delighted to see Mr Skafish himself in the comments, and I’m even happier to hear that they were able to use the tapes and get the best sound they could. Really looking forward to this most improbable (but welcome) of reissues!

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – Well, I’ve been a presence in his comments for a few years now. Reciprocity is how systems balance. You tend to notice where your traffic is being sent from, as well. Mr. Skafish confirmed that our friend JT mastered this compilation from his archives. I need to get that one since it is the home of the studio version of “Sign Of The Cross!”

      Liked by 1 person

    • skafish says:

      chasinvictoria, I am happy to be here with you and everyone! It’s almost 40 years since my 1st album was released, and it is thrilling to finally be able to see it all come together! We were careful with the remastering. I knew, deeply, to stay authentic to the art and from there, try to get the best sound we could! Your support makes my day, truly!

      Like

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