A one-of-a-kind period piece, URGH! A MUSIC WAR belongs in the library of any music fan with an affection for the 1980s. Recorded at a series of specially staged concerts in London, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles in August and September 1980, it offers a snapshot of the musical universe that was spun off by the Big Bang of punk. All the bands seen here...read more
A one-of-a-kind period piece, URGH! A MUSIC WAR belongs in the library of any music fan with an affection for the 1980s. Recorded at a series of specially staged concerts in London, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles in August and September 1980, it offers a snapshot of the musical
universe that was spun off by the Big Bang of punk. All the bands seen here were referred to at the time as "new wave," a meaningless term that means nothing more than that they were different than what had come before. Fans of the bands involved get to see them in crisply photographed club
performances, while general audiences are exposed to a wide range of styles from a period when the pop music scene was inventing new styles faster than the record companies could market (or repress) them.
Many of the performers involved were associated with IRS records, the label operated by Ian and Miles Copeland (brothers of Stewart Copeland, drummer for The Police, who uncoincidentally open the film). Fortunately, IRS had a reputation for signing cutting edge bands. URGH! (whose title
misleadingly invokes the kind of aggression that was associated with punk and hardcore) is about evenly divided between British and American bands. Some are long forgotten or never made an impact outside of England: Toyah Wilcox, John Cooper Clarke, Chelsea, The Au Pairs, John Otway, Skafish.
Still others were novelties who disappeared after a brief splash of attention: the bizarre Klaus Nomi, Splodgenessabounds, Athletico Spizz 80, Invisible Sex, and 999 (who perform their memorable hit "Homicide.") But a good number of the bands went on to greater success, in critical and sometimes
commercial terms. The Police, Wall of Voodoo, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Oingo Boingo, Echo and the Bunnymen, XTC, The Go Gos, The Dead Kennedys, Gary Numan, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Magazine, The Cramps, Pere Ubu, Devo, Gang of Four, X, and UB40, bands that cover a wide range of
musical styles, all made indelible marks on the 1980s, and are all worth seeing here. Few viewers will want to sit all the way through it, but even fewer won't find something here that appeals to them. (Profanity.)
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