One of the high-definition music channels played a truncated version of Urgh! A Music War this week. It’s one of my favorite concert films, and one of the best documents we have of the earliest days of alternative music. The omission of some of the film’s most interesting performances annoyed me no end: Klaus Nomi, Toyah Wilcox, and Gary Numan were all cut. Still, there are so many standout performances that the list is numbing after a while: the Police do “Driven to Tears” and “Roxanne” (Miles Copeland produced the film), Oingo Boingo performs “Ain’t This the Life,” Steel Pulse deliver a tight, sizzling version of “Ku Klux Klan,” XTC belt out “Respectable Street” in rare concert footage, the Cramps get demented with “Tear It Up.” Then there’s the Go-Gos, Dead Kennedys, Echo and the Bunnymen, Joan Jett, Wall of Voodoo, Pere Ubu, UB40, Jools Holland, and, and, and . . .
Contract issues over the many performances meant the movie was only available as an out-of-print videocassette and laserdisc for years, but joy! I find out now that Warner has FINALLY made the movie available on DVD. In celebration, everybody do the “Sign of the Cross! It’ll make you feel real boss!”