May 1, 2004

U.K. Subs

Punk Can Take It
This is a brilliant and self-consciously hilarious look at what punk meant to fans, bands, and critics in ’70s London. Filmed in 1979 by Julien Temple in a wartime documentary style (complete with a fantastic voiceover by BBC veteran John Snagge), the 30-minute movie mixes footage of the U.K. Subs performing at the Lyceum with scripted tableaus of punk life. It’s a treasure. As a bonus, the DVD closes with a recent interview with Subs guitarist Nicky Garratt, who is absolutely bored to tears describing the band’s history, although he’s obviously proud of what the group accomplished. Garratt’s combination of commitment and ennui betrays more about the true nature of ’70s punk than any book, Behind the Music episode, or rant by Johnny Rotten ever will. MVD.

—Michael Molenda


Live in Denver
If you’re one of those wise guys who digs snickering about shredfests, there are tons of opportunities for mirth here—the current “plus sized” Yngwie squeezed into ’80s rockwear, the miles of males in the audience, the heroic posturing, and all those notes. But there’s also a giddy majesty in witnessing three masters on one stage—Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Yngwie Malmsteen—and hearing them take the guitar to places most of us can only dream about. This is a celebration of transcendent playing, well-crafted tones, and all the beauty and danger and rage possible with six strings and an amplifier. The mood is helped by a gorgeous 5.1 mix that puts a lot of the guitars in the rear speakers for a scrumptious surround experience. There’s also a “Fret Cam” available for some songs that lets you get very, very close to the magic. Whether you’re a jazzer, punk, country picker, or strummer, if you love guitar, you should check out this brilliant document of pure playing. Epic Music Video.

—Michael Molenda

The Blasters

Going Home
The stereotypical roots rocker is one tough hombre—whether he’s young, old, or Jerry Lee Lewis. The Blasters fit right in with that gang, and they look pumped up and confident in this 2003 concert. Don’t expect a rumble, however. The band is so steeped in quiet bravado that they simply stand fast and deliver the goods. All the excitement comes from Phil Alvin’s rough-and-ready voice, Dave Alvin’s tough Strat licks, Gene Taylor’s churning piano, and the thunderous and tight grooves of drummer Bill Bateman and bassist John Bazz. The only drag about this rave-up is a “just-okay” 5.1 mix that subtly puts the crowd and stage ambience in the rear speakers and doesn’t quite match the performances with a sound that jumps out of the jukebox. Shout.

—Michael Molenda  

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