Monday, August 31, 2009

Urgh! A Music War finally released on DVD

I mentioned in an earlier entry on "Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains" that as a kid in the '80s, I'd stay up late at night watching a show called "Night Flight" on the USA Network. It often featured cult and underground films that provided my first exposure to numerous punk bands and subversive ideas. One of the films I saw a few times on "Night Flight" and later picked up on VHS tape finally was released this month on DVD... well sort of.

"Urgh! A Music War" was a British film originally released in 1981 featuring a wide variety of punk and new wave bands. It's all live footage, it comes off as one kick ass live concert featuring many up-and-coming acts of that era just when the major labels were grabbing onto the success of punk, but repackaging it as a nicer, gentler new wave. New wave actually included a wide variety of power pop, synth-driven pop, art rock, pop punk and post punk bands that all were kinda thrown into the same genre because they had a fashion or musical style that was a lot edgier than the current pop music, but not quite what most people would consider punk rock. Urgh! I thought kinda captured that transition featuring a few punk bands, a few pop and rock bands, and most bands that we might now call new wave, but who were mostly doing their own thing. What tied all the bands together was they were young, inventive and energetic. The live performances in this movie are great! I especially dug the Dead Kennedys, Devo, Go-Gos, X, The Cramps, Oingo Boingo, Joan Jett, 999 and The Police. For me in the early '80s when I first saw this film, it had a profound effect on me exposing me to so much new music I wasn't getting from commercial radio. It was one of those movies that helped open up the doors to punk and alternative music for me.

Warner Brothers has recently announced they are offering the movie on DVD-R, they are burning copies on a made-to-order basis. Odd that they don't think they can even sell a few thousand to do a full DVD run. They also haven't re-mastered it or done much work to the original movie at all for the DVD release. They added the trailer to the DVD and say they did it from the best available original print they had, but they didn't even add in chapter indexes for band tracks and apparently have omitted Splodgenessabounds' performance of "Two Little Boys." Kind of a lame way to re-release a cult classic music movie, but then again, at least they've rereleased it on DVD (unlike "Decline of the Western Civilization" and "Breaking Glass"). You can pick up your own copy of "Urgh! A Music War" for $20 over here.

Here's the full track listing of bands and the songs they perform:
The Police - Driven to Tears
Wall of Voodoo – Back in Flesh
Toyah Willcox – Danced
John Cooper Clarke – Health Fanatic
OMD – Enola Gay
Chelsea – I’m on Fire
Oingo Boingo – Ain’t This the Life
Echo & the Bunnymen – The Puppet
Jools Holland – Foolish I Know
XTC – Respectable Street
Klaus Nomi – Total Eclipse
Athletico Spizz 80 – Where’s Captain Kirk?
The Go-Go's – We Got the Beat
Dead Kennedys – Bleed for Me
Steel Pulse – Ku Klux Klan
Gary Numan – Down in the Park
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Bad Reputation
Magazine – Model Worker
Surf Punks – My Beach
The Members – Offshore Banking Business
Au Pairs – Come Again
The Cramps – Tear It Up
Invisible Sex – Valium
Pere Ubu – Birdies
Devo – Uncontrollable Urge
The Alley Cats – Nothing Means Nothing Anymore
John Otway – Cheryl’s Going Home
Gang of Four – He’d Send in the Army
999 – Homicide
The Fleshtones – Shadowline
X – Beyond and Back
Skafish – Sign of the Cross
UB40 – Madame Medusa
The Police – Roxanne
The Police– So Lonely
Klaus Nomi – Aria

Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't think I'm gonna let Sub Pop off the hook for doing business with Nike!

Nike has a long history of child and slave labor violations and currently uses sweatshops to manufacture its shoes. Why exactly would a record label like Sub Pop with a history of supporting fairly worthwhile organizations (The Vera Project, Northwest Film Forum, Hollow Earth Radio) want to do business with Nike? Nike under tremendous pressure from activists for decades finally gave in and stopped most of it's child labor practices--and crazy, when it got more ethical, sales went up! But the company still readily uses factories that abuse worker's rights and drastically underpays them, just one example: 20,000 Vietnamese workers in a Nike factory went on strike last year because they were only making $59 a month salaries. The sale of of pair of Nike's Sub Pop shoes can pay a factory worker's salary for 3 months!

What gives Sub Pop? Does the cool factor of having your own tennis shoes outweigh going into business with a corporation that seems to constantly violate worker's rights? Think again.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sub Pop Nike sneaks!

$150 and disappearing quickly at RMK, it's the hot new Sub Pop sneakers made by Nike:

I dunno, these look like something the '80s Christian metal band Stryper would wear, they are butt ugly. And vaguely reminiscent of those Revelation shoes that Adidas did:

I'm having a hard time seeing yellow as a rock'n'roll color. What about black and red? Black and white? And I'm having an even harder time seeing what the design has to do with Sub Pop, Seattle or grunge. My feeling: the Iron Maiden Vans are way cooler and so much cheaper, if you want rock shoes, buy those. Or the Dickies Vans!

More on the Crocodile Cafe's Music Archive

These are photographs of the new listening stations for the Crocodile Cafe sound archives located at the University of Washington's Media Center. As you can see, the computers hosting the archives (as well as their monitors) are located beyond the glass in a secure area. There has been a lot of talk in music forums about why these files aren't made available online. The basic reason is the University of Washington may own the recordings, thanks to the donation by Jim Anderson, but they do not own the rights to the intellectual content captured on the recordings, which is still owned by the bands. Most of the bands are totally stoked to know they have a few live shows archived in the University's collection for future generations of people to listen to, but they don't want unauthorized reproductions of those live shows. As the Media Center's librarian John Vallier says, "We want to be sure that we are working on the side of the artists here by both preserving their legacy and protecting their intellectual content."

So yeah, if you want to listen to them, you actually have to visit a library. For Seattlelites this is no big deal, I read a recent statistic that 80% of all people in the Seattle metro area (which is somewhere around 3.3 Million people) own library cards. If you're out of state, this just gives you another reason to come visit our wonderful city!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Crocodile Café Sound Collection

I last reported on the Crocodile Café sound recordings back in last October. I now have the mother of all updates...

First, the background. Audio engineer/sound man from Seattle's long running rock club the Crocodile Café recorded every show he did at the club and saved the recordings on a series of hard drives. After some negotiation, in October 2008 Anderson donated the original digital recordings to the University of Washington's Ethnomusicology Archives. For the past year the University of Washington Libraries' Media Center has been going through over 2,800 hours of live music recordings, copying them to put them in a streaming format, cataloging the shows, and letting bands that didn't want to be part of the archive opt out. Now before all you grunge fanatics go crazy about rare soundboard recordings of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney, the donation only included recordings from shows that occurred between May 2002 and December 2007. So the early grunge era isn't really represented in the archive. But there are an insane amount of great bands and shows, you can see the preliminary list here. I'm gonna crack up if I here myself singing into the mic at the Bronx show when the singer jumped out into the audience.

Will you be able to access these recordings online? No.

Will you be able to burn copies of the recordings? No.

Will non-students be able to listen to them? Yes.

Shocking, I know, but you will actually have to set foot in a library to hear them. This is a historical archival collection that will be open to the public beginning Wednesday, August 12th. The collection will be made available via iTunes on two dedicated listening stations at the UW Libraries' Media Center. The Media Center is located on the mezzanine level of the UW's Undergraduate Library, it's hours and location can be found here.