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Scott 'Wino' Weinrich,
Punk, New Wave, Reggae and Techno bands from Europe and the US recorded live in several locations in 1980. The biggest names on the bill are the Police and UB 40 but every performance is a jewel, a time capsule of the influenced and the influential in rock music right up to today. Written by
Raymond Clay <firstname.lastname@example.org>
THE BEST CONCERT MOVIE EVER MADE? I LOVE IT, BUT IT'S NOT FOR ALL TASTES...
I am now 36 years old and grew up during the disco era, a time formerly considered to be the worst ever in popular music. Since I couldn't deal with the constant disco, I turned to '50's oldies and the emerging punk/new wave scene to save my musical sanity. During that time, I bought the soundtrack album to URGH! and loved nearly every second of it. However, the film itself never played near me, even at the local "oddball" theater and so I assumed that it was doomed to languish in obscurity.
Skip ahead to 1985 and the late, lamented NIGHT FLIGHT program that ran on the USA network on weekend late-nights. NIGHT FLIGHT ran tons of off the wall movies and music shows that were clearly geared for a late-high school and college age audience who more than likely did a lot of drugs. They surprised the hell out of me and my stoner pals by announcing "Up next: the strange world of the punk and new wave scene with URGH! A MUSIC WAR!" I took off like a shot (knocking over the bong and royally pissing off my dorm mates) for the campus store to obtain a blank video tape, and made it back with about two minutes to spare. The trip was worth it, as I witnessed live performances of 32 (!!!) different bands, quite a few of whom I already loved and several more that I discovered that night.
The film chronicles performances from the US and Europe during 1980/81 and though fun, the results are wildly uneven. Here's the bottom line on acts you should not miss: Devo (turning in a kickass version of "Uncontrollable Urge" which really captures how hard they rocked in those days), the Go-Gos (before their first album came out, and when Belinda Carlisle was still chunky doing "We Got the Beat"), Joan Jett (burning up the screen with "Bad Reputation" in her pre-weight loss, pre- "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" days), The Cramps (will Lux Interior's johnson flop out of his silver stretch-pants while performing "Tear It Up"?), Oingo Boingo (turning in an absolutely electrifying version of "Ain't This the Life?" in which Danny Elfmman looks both insane and possessed), Skafish (doing "Sign of the Cross" and featuring Jim Skafish, perhaps the ugliest frontman ever), the Dead Kennedys ( a great rendition of "Bleed For Me"), Klaus Nomi (hands-down the strangest act in this flick, and that's really saying something. He performs "Total Eclipse" in a shattering falsetto, complete with Teutonic accent, and a spaceman/mime/drag queen outfit), XTC ("Respectable Street" as it was truly meant to be heard), X ("Beyond and Back"), 999 ("Homicide"), Magazine ("Model Worker"), Steel Pulse ("Ku Klux Klan") and UB40 (doing the unjustly forgotten "Madame Medusa").
There is a lot of filler and crap, but that may just be my opinion; you may dig the the stuff I hate, so who knows? If you can find this, rent it and sit back for a unique time capsule of the early '80's when pop music made it's last stand to be interesting.
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