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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Punk Rock > Dead Boys - Live At CBGB 1977

Dead Boys – Live At CBGB 1977


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Concert: B-



A Cleveland, Ohio band from the original Punk Rock cycle called The Dead Boys went to New York in 1975 and by 1977 became one of the first seriously successful bands in the genre.  They hit New York and the rest is history.  However, they only produced two studio albums and these releases with the great Sire Records label marked the one of the first on a major label.  Dead Boys – Live At CBGB 1977 is a remarkable DVD document that captures the band at their peak, on full color videotape, and in a three-camera arrangement!


Though the show only lasts 45 minutes, that it was made at all is something and that it is still interesting to watch is great.  That this was made only a few years before the Music Video became a permanent staple in the industry is all the more impressive.  Perhaps it is a tribute to the Punk spirit that they could pull this off, but it has survived and includes the following songs:


1)     Sonic Reducer

2)     All This & More

3)     Not Anymore

4)     Revenge

5)     Flame Thrower Love

6)     I Need Lunch

7)     Ain’t Nothin’ To Do

8)     What Love Is

9)     High Tension Wire

10)  Search & Destroy



The performances are wacky, outrageous, “organic” and tinged with a sense of violence and carelessness.  Yes, it is Punk, and that gives the cameras much to capture.  Unlike the three-camera set up on the likes of a situation comedy, these cameras zoom and move in wherever the energy or action is.  That director and editor Rod Swenson had a good sense of how to cut and pace all this in the element of the music without oversimplistic “Mickey Mousing” that would plague many a concert and music video clip to come.  By today’s standards, this is still daring, subversive and very raw.  Any band recording Rock Music today should consider this mandatory viewing, while those studying music on film and video have scholarly reasons alone to see it.


The full frame 1.33 X 1 image was shot on old analog NTSC cameras of the time, but looks good for its age and achieves a unique look the likes of which we will never see again.  It is simply one of those one-of-the-kind projects that also happens to be a vital record of the Punk movement that major labels even today would prefer not to even deal with.  The sound has been remixed here for Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, and though it is not a sonic marvel, it does help to recreate the idea of the live feel of the performance better, no matter how limited.  The combination makes it seem not quite as old as 1977, but it is and viewers will not be disappointed.


Extras include the Johnny Blitz-cam angle, bonus clip of The Steel Tips, 1977 band interviews, 1977 promotion clip of the band when they were on Sire (bring compared to The Beatles and hyped like crazy with footage form this show) and new interviews with former member Cheetah Chrome and Hilly Crystal, reflecting on the rise and fall of one of the key acts of the genre.  Punk is far from archived and documented as it should be, but programs like Dead Boys – Live At CBGB 1977 are a great step forward to honoring that legacy.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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