Original Soundtrack

UK/DK: A Film About Punks and Skinheads and Holidays in the Sun [DVD]

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Running about 90 minutes, this DVD includes two concert-oriented punk documentaries from different eras. UK/DK: A Film About Punks and Skinheads is the lengthier and more interesting of the pair. The 55-minute piece was done in 1983, about five years after the initial British punk explosion had peaked, and the style had begun its retreat into more specialized cultdom. Footage of some of the era's punk bands -- ranging from the more renowned (Exploited, Vice Squad, Adicts) to the far more obscure (anyone remember the Varukers?) -- mixes with interview snippets of musicians from the bands, actual punk fans, and a couple of music journalists. The clips of the bands playing are basic but reasonably effective, though some more standard video-promo miming is thrown into the mix on occasion, and it seems that some of the "concert" clips were filmed in front of audiences and matched to a pre-recorded music track. (The best clip, of Vice Squad singing "Stand Strong Stand Proud," is one such example.) This is British punk on the verge of turning into British hardcore, though some of the groups, like Vice Squad and Adicts, hang onto a bit of pop influence that links them to an earlier era, while more pile-driving acts like Chaos UK and Disorder strip away more melody for greater emphasis on screaming outrage and pummeling tempos. The interview clips are usually variations on the theme of "yes, punk isn't as big a phenomenon now, but the true believers are still at it and still being true to themselves and trying to make a difference." Oddly, while Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies of the Damned make interview appearances, there are only a few seconds of footage of them in concert. The accompanying feature, the 35-minute Holidays in the Sun, has eight performances from the 1996 festival of the same name held in Blackpool to celebrate the 20th anniversary of punk. It includes clips of veteran bands renowned (the Buzzcocks), still renowned by cultists (999, Slaughter & the Dogs, GBH, UK Subs), and known to very few (B-Bang Cider, the Drones). The performances are spirited and professionally shot, though as usual for punk, the vocals are by far the worst component of the audio fidelity-wise. There's no way such footage can be as exciting as those of punk bands from an earlier era, and it can't help but suffer in comparison to UK/DK: A Film About Punks and Skinheads. Again there are interview bits (filmed at the festival) with punk musicians to break up the music, which are usually basic pronunciations to the effect that punk never died and the real punks are still at it. Unfortunately, numerous interesting punk bands whose members are interviewed aren't shown performing on-stage, including the Damned, Sham 69, Eater, X-Ray Spex, and the Anti-Nowhere League.

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