'Urgh! A Music War'

The classic 1981 concert film “Urgh! A Music War” — which captured dozens of punk, New Wave and post-punk bands live on stage — quietly received its first-ever DVD release last week as part of the new Warner Archive on-demand catalog.

Long believed to be unreleasable on DVD, the Miles Copeland-produced film is available for $19.95 in widescreen format directly from Warner Archive, although the DVDs only can be shipped to the U.S. Warner also reports that while “this film has been manufactured from the best-quality video master currently available, it has not been remastered or restored.” (It’s also rumored that the Warner Archive series — in which DVDs are manufactured and shipped on-demand as they’re ordered — features films simply burned onto DVD-Rs.)

Director Derek Burbridge filmed concerts in New York City, Los Angeles and locations in England and France throughout 1980, chronicling performances by the likes of XTC, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Police, Oingo Boingo, Dead Kennedys, Pere Ubu, X, The Cramps and many, many more (including the baffling and long, long forgotten Invisible Sex).

It’s unclear, however, exactly what is on the DVD. The Warner Archive site does not include a tracklist, and the DVD’s 116-minute runtime is longer than the 94-minute theatrical release, but shorter than the original 124-minute VHS and LaserDisc editions. Television airings over the years have both added and omitted footage, further clouding the issue (Gary Numan’s “Down in the Park,” for example, has been cut from recent airings over reported rights issues).

More details and video after the jump…

Warners’ sole description of the film:

It’s live and loud. It’s urgent and proud. It’s more than two-dozen young, energetic bands caught in the act and making the music and moments matter in hot, crowded, amped venues scattered across L.A., London, New York City and elsewhere. It’s big hair, little hair, guys, girlz – with music styles ranging from minimalist electronica to reggae to theatrical camp to mosh-worthy mayhem. It’s catchy, it’s topical, it’s angry, it’s playful, it’s live. And it lives on in a rocking, throbbing, sights-and-sounds showcase featuring The Police, Devo, The Go-Gos, Oingo Boingo, X, The Cramps, Surf Punks, Joan Jett, Pere Ubu and more. Turn it on, turn it up, this means war: Urgh! A Music War.

As for picture quality, the studio also has posted a clip from the DVD of Oingo Boingo performing “Ain’t This the Life?” (click on the Video Trailers & Clips tab), which can be compared to the ripped-from-VHS performance of the same song below.

Video: Oingo Boingo,” “Ain’t This the Life?,” from “Urgh! A Music War”


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