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 ...
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A delicious, mysterious goo that oozes from the earth is marketed as the newest dessert sensation, but the tasty treat rots more than teeth when zombie-like snackers who only want to consume more of the strange substance at any cost begin infesting the world.
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 <email@example.com>
Update (written on 1st Oct '16): In late 2009 Warner Archives in the USA released a very high quality 16:9 (transferred from almost pristine film), glorious stereo, "burn on demand" single layer DVD edition of Urgh! The DVD is not quite perfect - there are just a few very minor split second, but noticeable, audio glitches. It would have been improved greatly if there were chapter marks at the start of each artist's performance (rather than every 10 minutes) and if a running order playlist was printed on the cover. The big advantage over all previous tape and LaserDisc editions is that the synch of video and audio is precise throughout (other editions had severe synch errors especially in both Pere Ubu and Devo - with the audio a full third of a second in advance of the video). The only artist missing from the Warner Archives DVD is Splodgeness Abounds, with their punk version of the Rolf Harris ditty "Two Little Boys" (no great loss). This is likely to be the only version ever released on digital and it is 99% of everything I could have hoped for. NB: because this is a 16:9 transfer from original film we get more information left and right than was shown in any of the 4:3 versions (tape or LaserDisc), and what is cropped slightly from the top and bottom of the film frame is worth the sacrifice.
My original 2003 review. comment was:
Urgh! is the finest ever collection of alternative music performance, by artists at the prime of their stage careers.
An important and lasting legacy of Urgh! was that it brought some previously unknown bands to the attention of a much broader audience than would ever have been possible otherwise. I'm referring here to acts such as Skafish, (the late) Klaus Nomi, The Alley Cats, Gang Of Four, Pere Ubu, X and The Cramps.
No-one could fail to want more of The Cramps after seeing Lux Interior deepthroat his hi-ball mic, while barely staying in his pants. Jim Skafish's "Sign Of The Cross" is another highlight - as a blasphemous anthem of epic proportions.
There are only a few performances that I really thought were so-so (Chelsea, 999, John Otway, Invisible Sex); a few more were "good", but the vast majority were amazingly good.
Even on the poor quality transfer to LaserDisc you can appreciate that Urgh! was filmed with care and with genuine respect for the performers and the viewer really feels like part of the audience.
The bands all sound great - but strangely it's in mono on the LaserDisc & VHS, while the double album on vinyl is in extremely good stereo. So when someone finally gets around to doing it, surely there's a state-of-the-art DVD just begging to be mastered and released? And if a DVD does eventuate, let's hope they make up for the major failing of the LaserDisc, and include Wall Of Voodoo's "Back In Flesh".
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