IMDb > X: The Unheard Music (1986)
X: The Unheard Music
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X: The Unheard Music (1986) More at IMDbPro »


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8.1/10   264 votes »
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Release Date:
March 1986 (USA) See more »
This film is a documentary about the personalities in, and the music of, the early 1980's Los Angeles punk band X... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
(7 articles)
DVD Playhouse--February 2012
 (From The Hollywood Interview. 25 February 2012, 8:40 PM, PST)

Blu-ray Review: X - The Unheard Music
 (From Twitch. 8 February 2012, 11:09 AM, PST)

The Unheard Music
 (From JustPressPlay. 15 January 2012, 9:40 PM, PST)

User Reviews:
Innovation and Art vs. the Music Industry See more (7 total) »


  (in credits order)

John Doe ... Himself

Exene Cervenka ... Herself
Billy Zoom ... Himself
D.J. Bonebrake ... Himself

Ray Manzarek ... Himself

Rodney Bingenheimer ... Himself
Brendan Mullen ... Himself
Frank Gargani ... Johny
Alizabeth Foley ... Pauline
Denise Zoom ... Herself
Diana Bonebrake ... Herself (as Dinky Bonebrake)
Bob Biggs ... Himself
Al Bergamo ... Himself
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jello Biafra ... Himself
Christopher Blakely ... Himself
Tom Hadges ... Himself
Robert Hilburn ... Himself

Martin Luther King ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Ronald Reagan ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Directed by
W.T. Morgan 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Christopher Blakely  uncredited
Alizabeth Foley  uncredited
Everett Greaton  uncredited
W.T. Morgan 

Produced by
Christopher Blakely .... producer
Everett Greaton .... co-producer
Cinematography by
John Monsour  (as Karem John Monsour)
Film Editing by
Kent Beyda 
Curtiss Clayton 
W.T. Morgan 
Charlie Mullin 
Production Design by
Alizabeth Foley 
Sound Department
Matthew Iadarola .... sound effects
Matthew Iadarola .... sound re-recording mixer
Alan Kutner .... live sound recordist
Visual Effects by
James Balsam .... visual effects
Les Bernstien .... visual effects supervisor
Camera and Electrical Department
Rick Schmidlin .... concert lighting director

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"The Unheard Music" - USA (informal alternative title)
See more »
84 min
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Billy Zoom:I have read a review of the Ramones in some trade paper, I think it was Rolling Stones or something like that, and they trashed them, said they were awful, the guy really hated them, he said they were dumb, they played these... He said all their songs were too fast, too short, only had three chords, no guitar solos, the lyrics were dumb, and it just all sounded like real positive things to me.See more »
Movie Connections:
Features "The Flintstones" (1960)See more »
True Love Pt. #2See more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
6 out of 6 people found the following review useful.
Innovation and Art vs. the Music Industry, 17 June 2008
Author: mstomaso from Vulcan

Before I present my review, please note that I have been an X fan since 1979, and was a first-generation American punk rocker. I do not state this as credentials, but rather because I am going to directly contradict some of the views of other reviewers who were there. Of course, this is all a matter of opinion, but - in my opinion - seeing "The Unheard Music" only as a tribute/biopic/fan movie about X misses the point by a wide margin. The genius of "The Unheard Music" is that it simultaneously provides a solid biography of X and an indictment of the American popular music industry - two stories which are, unfortunately for X, inescapably connected.

As an X fan, I especially appreciated the artistry of the film - which nicely mirrored Exene's aesthetics and poetry, and highlighted her as both John Doe's muse and, in many ways, the driving force behind the band. X was an almost leader-less group. With Billy Zoom - a very talented RnR/Rockabilly guitarist, John Doe - an excellent bassist and song-writer, DJ Bonebrake - a solid and innovative punk drummer and Exene - the brilliant bizarre and strangely beautiful poet and lead singer, they really did not need a leader. The film depicts and appreciates each band member's personalities accurately, and unlike most fan films, does not soft-soap them or go out of its way to make them all look good.

X was fascinating in concert - the juxtaposition of Billy's endless stiff smile and totally suppressed energy, Exene's inexplicable obsessive weirdness and often avant-garde vocal style, John's wild energy and exceptional vocal talent, and DJ's pounding rhythms - all welded into tight, exciting and loud but still very melodic and musical Rock and Roll. X, like many punk and old school hardcore bands, sincerely enjoyed their own gigs - and it was apparent. The band had great chemistry and excellent presence. All of this shows up nicely in the film's occasional live clips.

The film's story is nicely summed up in their classic song "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts"

"Will the last American band

to get played on the radio

please bring the flag"


"Woody Guthrie sang about

b-e-e-t-s, not b-e-a-t-s"

X welded traditionalism (both in lifestyle and musical form), patriotism and radicalism (much like the libertarian political philosophy of the American founding fathers) and punk DIY ethics harmoniously. This hybridization produced a remarkably distinctive, original, yet familiar and fun musical repertoire.

Unsurprisingly, the music industry was not ready for them. Despite critical acclaim and a few 'album of the year' awards, only an open-minded independent label would sign them early-on, and they were systematically mismarketed and mishandled by distributors.

The flip-side of this, however, is that X was not and would never be a sell-out. Unlike more contemporary 'popular punk', X retained their uniqueness, their originality, their obscure politics, and their artistry, throughout their largely successful career. It is worth comparing this film to Jim Fields' "End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones" (2003). Though the Ramones were a larger commercial success than X, End of the Century paints much the same story for them.

I believe that this is a trope which has come to identify post-punk sentiment. There is a considerable amount of whining to be done about the injustices of the pre-home-studio-cheap-cd music industry, for sure, but perhaps we should try to remember what happens to the musical integrity of almost every band that actually does emerge from the underground to the harsh light of commercialism - The Clash, Metallica, etc. Think about it - most people really don't have a great deal of taste when it comes to music. They simply want something to dance to, or something to distract them from life, or something undemanding in the background.

I liked the Ramones DESPITE their commercial success. I loved X because of what they did, who they were, and how they sounded. I can't say the same about any of the neopunk groups signed to major labels and spreading expensive designer 'punk' fashion all about magazine covers today.

What is a looming commercial monolith on the surface is a barely recognizable shadow in the underground.

Nicely filmed, wonderfully edited and compiled, with never a dull moment. X: The Unheard Music is a great introduction to X, the music industry, and American punk.

Highly recommended.

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