DVD Review

“Punk: Attitude”

By JHR

Punk: AttitudeSo, months ago, Pan sent me a DVD box called Punk Attitude, and it's been festering on the shelf since then because I'm an idle bastard like that. This was a mistake.

If you've even a vague interest in the history and connectedness of the modern popular music form, as told by the people who perpetrated it rather than a set of talking heads (Ahahaha. I'm such a card.) reading media-friendly sound bites off cue-cards, then you really need to belt down the shop or the online wossname Right Bloody Now and bag a copy. It's an essential object.

The problem with a lot of these projects, and perhaps one of the reasons that I avoided viewing the thing, is that musical history is usually written by the bloke from the winning record company, or by some cock of a 'cultural commentator' from the University of Bumfuck, Nowhere. That sort of thing usually leaves a chap having a fulminate, because they'll be going on about how influential Sham69 were and how Jimmy Pursey was directly influenced by the Viennese Actionist Movement. In this documentary there's no mention of Sham69, which is as it should be.

Everybody seems to pretty much agree that 'the punk rock' didn't appear fully-formed from the head of, well, anyone in particular. Instead, The MC5, Stooges, Beefheart and free jazz are all in the frame. It's as if there's some kind of recessive musical gene that shows up every so often that causes a brief tumult that echoes back and forth a bit before subsiding. Further, that tumult works like LSD; the active ingredients are absorbed quickly, but the effects last a lot longer. The consensus seems to be that the initial UK punk 'scene' lasted exactly as long as it took for heroin to become the drug of choice, which appeared coincidental with the arrival of the sort of be-mohawked bands who self-described as 'punk'.

You don't need the likes of me to draw the obvious parallels with this 'goth' business.

Hardcore punk is given short shrift. Music by jock scum for other jock scum. The ten-second deconstruction of Limp Bizkit and modern 'punk' is hugely entertaining for someone of my advanced years, though I can see anyone under the age of (say) 25 being hugely offended. Good.

There's also a huge hole between the tail-end of post punk and the point Nirvana signed to Geffen. Now, to my mind, the obvious chap to talk to about the mid-eighties and the point the record companies regained control would be Steve Albini. But that could well be my over-enthusiasm for Big Black; we always think our own favourite bands are the hugely important ones in the scheme of things.

The bolt-on second disc contains more Rollins, Dave Goodman, a short film about the LA scene (more bagging on the hardcore types), more No Wave and explanations on the importance of Reggae and Hip-hop.

I suppose I'm cheerfully biased toward this thing because it confirms all my prejudices and shows that all of the music I've been given a hard time from the small-minded over (The Doors, garage rock, jazz, Beefheart, dub reggae, Public Enemy... It's a long list) were essential precursors.

Whatever. Buy this DVD.

Contact Information:
Capital Entertainment
Post: 826 S. Victory Blvd, Burbank, CA, 91502
Phone: (818) 557-8200
Web: www.capitalent.com

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