When it worked, it worked exceptionally well. Skinned Knees was a concept band, an alternative rock band, and a performance art band; it was social, political commentary put to music. The success of the band owed much to the time period: the so-called 'Early Eighties,' which permitted 'the Knees' much of the idealistic free expression of the sixties, with none of the pesky tie-dye, bellbottoms, and low-grade acid. Hundreds of garage bands popped up in Austin and San Marcos during those years. Bassist Ross Jennings, singer/guitarist Donna Yarrell, and drummer Jaye Isham joined the band after the original core lineup of guitarist/singer Kevin Jones and singer/Tim Hughes (Spade) had already recorded a single. The band was born on the campus of Southwest Texas State - now Texas State University - in 1980. The knees enjoyed a loyal following, who liked the live-action onstage drama featuring a talking sculpture and a mannequin, who later married. There was a fencing match with paint brushes attached to the epees and a giant pallet of paint on the stage. Kevin played from a bed on stage. Another favorite: There were Reagan Head pinatas full of jelly beans, spray painting of banners, writhing, jumping bodies engaged in wild, convulsive dancing. No Knees fan ever left a show depressed. Skinned Knees recorded their full-length LP at Ruff Cedar Studios in Austin in 1982 and collapsed spectacularly a year later. But what might have happened if The Knees had opened for R.E.M. in Atlanta that time? And why did they decide not to do it? These are mysteries that perhaps will never be answered.