Monday, November 19, 2012

Urgh! A Music War

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as YouTube. I know, it was a dark and scary place. Sinners were stoned to death in the town square. Children ate each other to stay alive. If you were a fan of music that wasn't necessarily mainstream, and you wanted to see a few of those bands perform, what could you do? Go to a ... concert? Like that was going to happen.

Lucky for you, there was Urgh! A Music War.

Urgh! A Music War is a concert film, containing about twenty different concerts. Each band gets one song. It's like a sloppy, messy snapshot of the Punk/New Wave scene. Household names perform right next to acts that probably never even got a record deal. The requirements for inclusion most likely ran about as deep as "Is your band interesting?"

If you've got two hours to spare, you can watch the whole film. It's currently on YouTube, in its entirety. Yes, the dark days are over. But just in case you have a life, let me whittle down some of the highlights:

Here's Gary Numan performing "Down In The Park" from what appears to be the inside of a gigantic Rubik's cube.

Joan Jett gives a spirited rendition of "Bad Reputation," presumably after having just crawled out of the jungle.

The Police demonstrate their impeccably white musicianship with three numbers (is that an English Beat tank top I see Sting wearing?).

A still-unsigned Go-Go's even make an appearance. From Lips Unsealed:
As I recall, we were shot performing "We Got The Beat" in the back of a truck as it cruised down Sunset. I wore a red Chinese dress and weighed about 175 pounds - excess baggage from London and New York. At the time, Ginger was offering all of us ten dollars for every pound we lost.
As we shall soon see, that was clearly money well spent.

They're followed in the film by the Dead Kennedys, whose Jello Biafra appropriately begins ranting about "skinny tie wimpola pop bands." Seriously, though, screw Jello Biafra.

I'm assuming that not every band in Urgh! A Music War liked every band in Urgh! A Music War. Uncompromising post-punk acts such as Gang of Four, Pere Ubu, the Au Pairs, and Magazine shared theatrical space with the Police, UB40, and Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark. But veiled disdain for your artistic peers is what this era was all about.

Finally, there's Invisible Sex, who run around the stage in pink bunny suits. According to Wikipedia, this "appears to be their single public outing." If the only contribution of Urgh! A Music War to rock history was that it preserved a performance by Invisible Sex, then the film was entirely worth it on those merits alone.


Herr Zrbo said...

Nice find, can't say I've ever heard of this.

Little Earl said...

Also, don't forget: XTC, Echo & The Bunnymen, Devo, and...Athletico Spizz 80?