A. Pop Art
B. Magazine Girls
THE HASKELLS (Houston, TX)
Pop Art b/w Magazine Girls
Spotless (39152), 1981
Kat Osborne started playing rhythm guitar at the age of 14 in her brother’s band, The After Effects. But having been a dancer since the age of three, she loved tap rhythms and was drawn to percussion. So she bought a Rogers 5-piece drum set and taught herself to play. Her first drumming stint was in a British rock cover group called Nasty Habits. When musical tastes began to differ, she wanted to start her own band.
So she placed an ad in a local Houston paper and a bass player named George Reiff was the first to respond. They started auditioning guitar players and soon enlisted John Leaf. They came up with the name the Haskells in reference to Eddie Haskell of the TV show Leave It To Beaver.
John, who was from the UK, started writing originals that had an English flavor to them. During their first few shows, the band even played covers of songs by Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, the Jam, Clash, Elvis Costello and other popular British songwriters. But they wanted to put more emphasis on originals, so George started writing as well.
“Magazine Girls” and “Pop Art" were amongst the first songs they wrote, so they quickly made their way out to Loma Ranch in Fredericksburg to record the two tracks. 500 copies of the 7” were pressed, though very few came with picture sleeve due to the cost of printing. The single was put in all the local record stores and sold well.
They still felt something was missing in their music, so John brought in his friend Andy Feehan on keyboards to add depth to their sound. Andy had previously played with John in Herschel Berry’s band, as well as in the Lords with Ronnie Bond and Kelly Younger (who later went on to form Really Red).
By this time John and George became a solid songwriting duo and the rest of the band would put their own spin on each song, creating music that was unique in Houston. They played with local stalwarts like the Judys and Really Red (who they shared a practice space with in a former mortician’s school). Then they started venturing to Austin about once a month where they’d share the stage with bands like Standing Waves, Rattlecats, Explosives and Joe "King" Carrasco, usually at Club Foot.
About six months after their first recording sessions, they went back in the studio and laid down five more tracks for their Fatter And More Modern EP. Overall the band was displeased with the outcome of the record, mainly due to the lack of a producer. They printed 500 copies, but again couldn’t come up with the money for the album art, so generic rubber-stamped sleeves housed the 12” records.
Slash Records took interest in the band at one point, but nothing came to fruition. Then in 1983 George ended up going out to England and playing with the Jags for a short stint before coming back to Texas and playing with the Rattlecats and then Joe "King" Carrasco. During this time, the Haskells tried out another bass player, but Kat and John were no longer having fun and decided to call it quits.
"Pop Art" was bootlegged on a volume of Powerpearls and for mysterious reasons pitched way down, taking a lot of the charm out of the song. The song was given proper representation on 2013's Texas power pop compilation album, Radio Ready that was released on Cheap Rewards Records.