Before California was swamped by a glut of ska-punk, The Untouchables ruled the roost.
Emerging from Los Angeles suburb Silver Lake in 1981, they covered tracks by The Specials and gave proof that 2-Tone‘s values could travel the world.
The black and white rude boys were seen so frequently in the clubs and riding around town on Vespa and Lambretta scooters – wearing three-button suits, military-issue parkas, dark sunglasses and pork pie hats – that many believed they were already a band.
A self-released 12″ EP in 1984 scored the band a lot of airplay on local station KROQ, and the low-budget video for Free Yourself won Billboard‘s 1984 award for best indie video.
They signed to UK label Stiff but their sound had a distinctly American take on ska – borne out by the subject matter of their 1985 single, I Spy (For The FBI). The re-issued Free Yourself was also a big hit (#26) in the United Kingdom in April 1985.
The Untouchables recorded their debut album – which saw them finally moving away from their original 2-Tone revival sound, and more towards Motown-ish soul, reggae, pop and other genres – in Ireland.
The band toured endlessly, supporting UB40, The Beat, Black Uhuru, The B-52s (opening for them during three sold-out shows at the Hollywood Palladium), Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the Psychedelic Furs, Bow Wow Wow, Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M, X, No Doubt and many others.
Because actor Emilio Estevez was a fan, they ended up appearing as a Vespa-riding scooter gang in the 1984 cult hit, Repo Man and were credited onscreen by director Alex Cox.