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Urgh! a Music War
     

Urgh! a Music War

4.0 1
Director: Derek Burbidge

Cast: The Police, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Chelsea

 
This music documentary presents 30 different performances nonstop, featuring both well-known and lesser-known bands with names that sound like they were picked at random from words thrown into a salad bowl and then mixed at high speed: Pere Ubu, XTC, Wall of Voodoo, Oingo Boingo, Steel Pulse, Surf Punks, 999, UB40, Echo and the Bunnymen, and so forth. The sounds

Overview

This music documentary presents 30 different performances nonstop, featuring both well-known and lesser-known bands with names that sound like they were picked at random from words thrown into a salad bowl and then mixed at high speed: Pere Ubu, XTC, Wall of Voodoo, Oingo Boingo, Steel Pulse, Surf Punks, 999, UB40, Echo and the Bunnymen, and so forth. The sounds recorded on this documentary are as varied as the names of the bands, and so there is something for everyone here -- at least, everyone enthralled by music as boisterous and eccentric (in some cases) as the nomenclature of the groups themselves.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
More a collection of bite-sized musical oddities than a proper movie, Urgh! A Music War is a must-see for fans of late '70s-early '80s new wave music. Director Derek Burbidge unleashes his succession of unusual acts without a narrative spine, preferring to let viewers soak in the unconventional stylings and stagings of 30 bands who helped steer alternative rock music down its current path. For every Police or UB40, there are a half-dozen hidden treasures whose influence is not so obvious. What comes through in spades is how intentionally quirky and unhip many of these bands were, and how that transmogrified into a kind of nerdy cool. The poster boys for this phenomenon are the steadfastly square Devo, but other acts really open eyes in terms of inaccessible and self-involved geek rock. Notably, Gary Numan, who penned the classic "Cars," tools around the stage in a contraption better suited to conveying senior citizens, to further the operatic mystery of his synthesizer music and blend in with the flashing lasers. Klaus Moni adds kabuki makeup and cabaret trappings to his number, while the only way Cramps lead singer Lux Interior manages to keep his leather pants from falling down is by stumbling around the stage. For those looking to be grounded in something familiar -- well, this movie may not be for you. But the Police do come through at the end with a rousing rendition of "Roxanne," led by a boyish Sting. Watch also for Oingo Boingo singer Danny Elfman in the days before he became Tim Burton's personal soundtrack composer.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/04/2009
UPC:
0883316195352
Original Release:
1981
Rating:
R
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
2:01:00
Sales rank:
23,423

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Police Actor
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Actor
Chelsea Actor
Oingo Boingo Actor
Echo & the Bunnymen Actor
Go-Go's Actor
Dead Kennedys Actor
Steel Pulse Actor
Gary Numan Actor
Joan Jett Actor
Cramps Actor
Devo Actor
Gang of Four Actor
X Actor
UB40 Actor
Surf Punks Actor

Technical Credits
Derek Burbidge Director
David Anderson Cinematographer
Lyndall Hobbs Associate Producer
John Metcalfe Cinematographer
Dick Pope Cinematographer
David Scott Cinematographer
John W. Simmons Cinematographer
Michael White Producer

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Urgh! a Music War 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
poughkeepsiejohn More than 1 year ago
Watching Derek Burbridge's 1980 rock concert film, "Urgh! A Music War" is very personal to me because for one thing, it's one of my favorite rock and roll films. It also perfectly captures the idiosyncratic sense of daring that was commonplace in late Seventies/early Eighties punk rock and New Wave. Unfortunately, this film has not been available on DVD for more than two decades due to difficulties in securing the musical rights. And when "Urgh!" did finally come out on DVD, it's still not perfect: there were a couple of performance that looked like they were cut and there are no extras or chapter stops on the disc. Having said that, though, I have to say that "Urgh!" looks and sounds fantastic thirty years after it came out. This collection of thirty different live performances brings back a time when rock bands didn't need dance troupes to get their point across. Some of these bands went to much better things like The Police ("Driven To Tears") and Joan Jett ("Bad Reputation"). Some of them became underground heroes such as Pere Ubu ("Birdies") and The Gang Of Four ("He'd Send In The Army"). Some of them were never heard from again like Invisible Sex, a group of anonymous musicians who dressed up in lookalike masks and radiation suits. What emerges from these performances, which range from a full-scale concert in Prejus, France (which includes The Police, UB-40 and XTC) to intimate yet brilliant shows at New York's CBGBs featuring The Fleshtones, is a remarkable kinescope of the DIY spirit that would later become known as alternative rock. Mind you, not every performance clicks---there's an obnoxious Los Angeles group called Surf Punks, who come across as not being able to play or sing. There's even a brief moment of poetry by John Cooper Clarke; if you remember him from "Evidentally Chickentown" on "The Sopranos", you owe it to yourself to see him in doing a poem about a "Health Fanatic". There's even a performance by New York avant-garde artist Klaus Nomi, oversized tuxedo and all, just three years before he died of AIDS (one of the first known rock performers to die from the disease). It's hard to say which are the best performances in the film. However, I'm inclined towards The Dead Kennedys unbridled, ferocious performance of "Bleed For Me" and The Cramps tearing into their inner-psychobilly "Tear It Up". Like I said, this DVD is far from perfect. However, when you see the late Lux Interior squirming all over the stage, practically swallowing his microphone, that alone is enough to recommend "Urgh!"