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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:


3 January 2002

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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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Found out why there's no Urgh! A Music War DVD yet...(read on)

Author: billjsw from Bellerose, NY, USA
26 March 2006

Because of an exclusive contract to publish this movie on a now dead format (CED), the contracts for the individual artists are missing. Because you can't renegotiate a contract without the original to amend, no one can touch this. Its currently owned by its original producer, Miles Copeland (founder of IRS records), and he has the film of THREE songs from each band in storage, but because of the legal land lock he cannot release it. If he does some day, we can look forward to a 6 hour 2 DVD special edition.

Pretty sad to say the very least. We can only hope one day (soon) that the original contracts will be found as this will make a MAJOR DVD release!! Oh, human error!!

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

musical history that needs repeating

Author: John Frame ( from Brisbane, Australia
7 November 2003

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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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

one of the greatest rock and roll films ever made

Author: theeht from ny, ny
28 September 2000

From London to La, we are treated to some of rock's all-time greatest bands performing , unfortunately, one song each, during a great time in rock music: the post-punk era of the early '80s. You'll love some and you'll hate some, but you definitely won't be bored. Watch out for X, the go-gos, Echo and the Bunnymen, Oingo Boingo, Joan Jett, Cramps, Alley cats, Magazine, Au Pairs, Police, Wall of Voodoo, Fleshtones,999,XTC, Surf Punks and on and on and on. Great!

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Sadly I am Only 14 and could not have seen this film.

Author: Pete Laflame ( from United States
16 August 2005

I recently saw Urgh! A Music war and now I cannot watch it enough. I really only like a very few number of the bands. But what I do like, I like a lot.

My favorite of all is the all mighty Gary Numan. He is the best in every way (Music wise!). But do not misunderstand me I also really Like, Wall Of Voodoo, Chelsea, Oingo Boingo, Echo and The Bunnymen , XTC, (The Late) Klaus Nomi, Athletico Spizz 80, The Dead Kennedys, Members, Cramps, Pere Ubu, And Devo. The others I just go past.

I sadly as born in 1991 and only saw it because of me mum. For that I am so very happy. But I fear she has to take it back tomorrow. It is all I can do to stop myself from taking it and putting it where no one would ever look for a movie. I do not for me mum says she will re-rent it for me. That makes me so very happy.

About Klaus's song it is not called "Total Eclipse". The name is really "Aria From Samson & Delilah". He would later die of AIDS, on August 6th, 1983. Two year after this (The Movie) came out.

Now I can only hope for my own copy of this great Film.

, Pete Alphonse Lucien Laflamme

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

way cool groovy

Author: snowboarderbo from Las!
8 December 2004

i remember being so impressed that someone had filmed the bands i was listening to as a kid.... i saw this movie in the theatre once and on cable about 400,000,000,000 times. I used to stay up and watch it on Night Flight (as so many others have mentioned) and it used to run on Showtime, HBO and Cinemax quite a bit back in the day. Awesome performances and a whole *@#$load of music that's all but been forgotten... like the best band and best performance in the movie (which thus far no one has mentioned): Gang of Four totally rocking out in London.

If you really want to treat yerself, i highly recommend finding a copy of this, but wait to watch it until you can go back-to-back with Decline of Western Civilization. Ah, what a great time to be alive that was :D

One of my favorite movies; I wish i could see it again (come on Rhino! save us from another pop diva and re-issue this film on DVD!)

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Must see for hardcore new wave fans

Author: Marc Sparks from Flagstaff, AZ
28 August 2005

As everyone has already mentioned, you get over 30 performances, and at least half of them are classics. There are a few gems in the ones you've never heard of, and at least 5 or 10 you'll be wishing you had it on DVD so you could hit skip.

The highlights- Oingo Boingo does "Ain't This The Life" from their first EP. The song itself is kinda rare (unavailable on CD except for their live Farewell album), and I've never seen Elfman so manic. (Coked-up?) Wall Of Voodoo does "Back In Flesh" and gets a tiny skit as well. Gary Numan does "Down In The Park" while driving a neon tank. Devo does the always great "Uncontrollable Urge". XTC performs- well I can't remember, but it's rare enough just seeing them perform. Dead Kennedy's whip through "Bleed For Me", complete with typical Jello Biafra opening rant. Joan Jett SMOKES "Bad Reputation". Surf Punks do an amusing "My Beach". Lux Interior of the Cramps wears a nearly-criminal pair of leather pants and deep throats a microphone during- I forget what song, but it's good. Klaus Nomi is, well Klaus Nomi- you may hate it, but it sure isn't boring. And of the bands you've never heard of, you'll never forget Skafish's "Sign Of The Cross".

There are also good performances by Echo & The Bunnymen, OMD, The Police, Gang Of Four, X, Go-Go's, Magazine and a few others, but they never really stood out to me. I thought Pere Ubu's performance was substandard- I'm not a big fan, but I saw them once in the early 90's and they were great. Most of the unknown bands are just kind of dull, a few prove why they're unknown, like Athletico Spizz (or something like that- the one with the Silly String.) This is hard to find, but there are a lot of rental copies still floating around out there. I think it was on CBS/Fox video, so I don't know why it hasn't been put out on DVD.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Best of the punk & New Wave on one tape

Author: icehole4 from Irving, TX
29 March 2001

Although it may seem dated now, in its time this was a collection of some of the best bands that were "out there," the most commercial being the Police and the Go-Go's. It also offers a very rare insight into seeing XTC live [which hasn't occurred since this video was released.]

Sadly impossible to find now, it was really worthwhile to see in the early 1980's. Maybe someone like Rhino will pick up on this and release it again...

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Before it was pop...

Author: ( from Houston, TX
6 March 2001

An excellent picture of what the punk/new wave scene was before the sound got co-opted by the mainstream. The Devo live performance really rocks, and you get to see many smaller artists that got overlooked when this genre took over the top 40. It really shows you how much fun and interesting music can be when it isn't being pushed by big labels and a band's sound can be created naturally without pressure to meet a certain standard. Last I saw it aired on the Sundance Channel.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Those were the days

Author: Mario Bergeron from Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Canada
7 April 2000

By that time, my friends were listening to ugly music like Styx or Emerson Lake and Palmer. They thought I was kind of crazy to listen to X and the Cramps. I had also the big chance to have this film on tape. I also got the double LP of the music. Some of this stuff is still good to listen to (Wall of Voodoo, X, Fleshtones, Police, Cramps) but to see this film is also an incridible experience. See zany John Otway! But for me, the Cramps performance of Tear it up is one the greatest moment of pure rock and roll catch on film. And who was that strange girl of the Alley Cats? Who were the Alley Cats? Their song is amazing! Seems like all these people have a lot of fun back then.

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