When you picture a bunch of skater kids, you figure they'll be listening to punk rock, but back in the early to mid-'70s, when California surf rats first began to turn skateboarding into something wilder than simple sidewalk surfing, punk rock didn't really exist yet. So what were pioneering skaters listening to while they were first figuring out how to do stunts on ramps or in empty swimming pools? Dogtown and Z-Boys is a documentary on the Santa Monica-based Zephyr Skate Team (aka "The Z-Boys"), who turned skateboarding upside down in the 1970s, and this soundtrack album attempts to capture a typical skater's soundtrack before the Ramones came along and changed everything. And if you hung out with the kids who smoked a lot of pot and preferred cruising the main drag while swilling cheap beer to going to the football game back in the mid-'70s, this will sound a lot like what you heard pouring out of any number of eight-track players; the soundtrack to Dogtown and Z-Boys offers a lot of meat-and-potatoes hard rock from the period, heavy on arena-ready boogie (Joe Walsh, both solo and with the James Gang, and ZZ Top), guitar heroics (Jimi Hendrix and Ted Nugent), and made-to-order teenage rebellion (Thin Lizzy and Alice Cooper). The closest thing to an odd touch here is the presence of T. Rex and Iggy & the Stooges (though one should remember both were big in L.A. without meaning much to the rest of America) and Rod Stewart (whose "Maggie May," fine as it is, just doesn't fit the hard rock mold of the rest of the disc). In short, if you're a teenager looking for skate sounds, you might want to stick with Blink-182, but if you're in your early to mid-forties and want a ride down memory lane, turn on the black light, fire up the bong, and slap this into the CD player -- it's the next best thing to watching Dazed and Confused again.
Dogtown and Z-Boys Review
by Mark Deming