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Category:    Home > Reviews > Music Videos > Punk-O-Rama, The Videos - Volume One

Punk-O-Rama Volume One (Music Videos)

 

Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Videos: B-

 

 

Punk Rock, does it really still exist?  The original movement began in the 1970s, which was eventually subverted by New Wave, the Reagan/Thatcher era, and its own self-destructive ends.  The latter would have ended it if the former reasons did not.  However, there is music still being called Punk, but it is sadly and too often a pale imitation of the original.  The most important factor is the lack of politics and even political awareness in this second cycle.

 

Epitaph Records is one of the big homes of this ”second wave”, and they have given rise to interesting bands like NOFX, Rancid, Bad Religion, and The Offspring.  It may not be Punk the way any Noir film today could be actual Film Noir, because Punk denotes a vital period in Rock Music.  It is the post-1960s/post-Beatles conclusion to how Rock failed its potential.  By the 1980s, Punk fell and Rock was corporatized.  By the 1990s, Hip Hop replaced Rock in the mainstream, so what are we to make of this?

 

Well, the recent music video set Punk-O-Rama – Volume One could be seen as picking up where the original movement left off, trying to complete unfinished business.  However, the music here is usually not potent enough, nor are the performers, no matter how talented.  Rancid is certain vintage Punk in look and have their moments.  NOFX has an awareness of things that few bands today do and need to go much farther then they’ve gone, meaning their best work could still be ahead of them.  Bad Religion almost had more mainstream success, but are not quite Punk to begin with.  The Offspring went to Columbia Records later and continued to produce some interesting music, if not so radical.  What follows is a video-by-video analysis of all 22 clips, including the directors that the slim DVD DigiPak case neglected to list, but are noted before each video:

 

1) Rancid – Nihilism (Tim Armstrong, 1996)     The band is shot in black and white doing a live performance with no audience, typical of most of the videos in this collection.  This promotes the record, but only offers their personalities, which will at least make fans happy.  The song is not bad.

 

2) Refused – New Noise (Joakim Ahlund, 1999)     This begins with guys dressed as human-sized animals, with zombies and mannequins (of sorts), but it quickly degenerates into another live performance.  With a little more imagination and the set they had, this could have been a much better video.  This is the only clip by this director on the whole DVD.

 

3) Bad Religion – American Jesus (Gore Verbinsky, 1994)     The future director of Hollywood fluff like The Mexican and Pirates of the Caribbean turns out a more visually interesting work here.  The song ultimately is a case of “been there, done that”, but at least it is not some live performance, at first.  Too bad they did not stick to the sepia-toned trip through the city.

 

4) NOFX – Leave It Alone (Geoff Moore, 1994)     The live clip is done in reddened color and at least has some energy.  Song and clip are above average overall.

 

5) The Offspring – Come Out & Play (Darren J. Levitt, 1994)     “You gotta keep ‘em separated!”  This helped put the band and its label on the map, a minor classic about gang violence and its stupidity.  The biggest disappointment of this DVD’s content is that Samuel Bayer’s “Gotta Get Away” clip is not included, which is a classic.  There is no doubt about how good this band is and even though there is live footage here (in hue-manipulated sepia-tones), this is a smart video.

 

6) Rancid – Salvation (Mark Coor & Tim Armstrong, 1995)     After a promising start of some official men in black suits looking for suspects, the narrative dies and is replaced by more live monochrome footage of the band (with an audience this time) and stock footage the guys run away.  It is never clear who is running and why.

 

7) Pennywise – Same Old Story (Darren Doane, 1995)     The band is live in Bluechrome as a kid throws milk on his father/uncle/male household figure, then skateboards his way all over town.  The clip is more memorable than the song, but they have a better song and clip later on this DVD.

 

8) Millencolin – Kemp (StyleWar, 2002)     I just love when directors use non-names to identify themselves, or companies use directors, then do not name them.  It turns out we will get a horrible video 95% of the time, but in this case, the clip is totally computer animated.  The work is already dated, but this is one of the better clips here by default.

 

9) The Bouncing Souls – True Believers (Steve Marino, 2002)     This is simply a live, color performance on tape with some monochrome footage, and a flat song.

 

10) T(I)NC – Up For Sale (Filip Engstrom, 2001)     One of the biggest surprises in the set is this clip letter boxed at the scope 2.35 X 1 scope frame.  The band sings about not wanting to surrender to authority while in an upscale house partying with their friends.  With subtitles that are NOT the song lyrics, they are eventually under fire by these “authority police”, who are coming to get them.  Along with a riff recalling the conclusion of Blondie’s Hangin’ On The Telephone, this is one of the best videos of its year.  Why did we not see it, and where is this band?

 

11) Hot Water Music – Paper Thin (Ben Lovett, 2001)     The live performance here is innercut with hospital footage in many shades of monochrome, but goes nowhere.

 

12) Descendents – I’m The One (Dave Robinson, 1996)     Though the opening is in color and is 16 X 9, it quickly goes full screen with yet another live performance (monochrome) and color footage of a sex clinic.

 

13) Dropkick Murphys – Barroom Hero (Shari Sklar, 1998)     The title says it all, full screen, color, live band performance with live bar fight.  The only twist, which will make Alcoholics Anonymous happy, is a sing-a-long where a bouncing beer bottle replaces the traditional bouncing ball as the lyrics run at the bottom of the screen.  Yawn!

 

14) Guttermouth – She’s Got The Look (Big Brother, 2001)     A live clip by a nameless director in full screen and color.  Boring.

 

15) Division of Laura Lee – Need To Get Some (Karl-Johan Larsson, 2002)     Live performance clip in color and full screen, but it is in a parking garage with a party going on.  Even better, they are visited by human-sized animals (larger and different from #2 above), but with glowing red eyes this time!  Wow?  Well, it is fun, but I wish it had a better conclusion.

 

16) Rancid – GGF (Tim Armstrong, 2000)     A sort of color equivalent of the first video in this set.  Rancid has three here, more than any other act, but it is sad how over-similar their videos here are.  This is especially true since they are one of the better acts.

 

17) Death By Stereo – Desperation Train (Chris and Walter Bargodis, 2001)     A mostly full screen live clip in color.  It took two people to shoot this?

 

18) Pennywise – F**k Authority (aka Fuck Authority, Glen Bennett, 2001)     This is much more like it, a real song in the Punk tradition, but it is actually not angry enough!  Nevertheless, it mixes 16 X 9 and 2.35 X 1 scope footage that includes stock footage, a stylized live performance by the band, and digital placement into the stock footage of the band members.  That’s too Forrest Gump for its own good, but this is still one of the best clips on the DVD.

 

19) NOFX – Stickin’ In My Eye (Isaac Camner, 1992)     This hilarious clip is almost a spoof of live performance clips, music videos in general, fell-good songs (especially with choruses) and a good song to boot.  Another winner!

 

20) Dropkick Murphys – The Gauntlet (Shari Sklar, 2001)     An improvement for this band/director combo is a 16 X 9 clip, but has images where the black bars would letterbox the image.  Not bad at all, though it is still a live clip.

 

21) The Bouncing Souls – East Side Mags (Jamie Stern, 1997)     This bands earlier clip is far better than their later clip (#9 above), a direction they need to get back to.  The video has these guys as street guys and it is fun watching them play for the camera in a way that will recall Scorsese and The Beastie Boys.

 

22) Bad Religion – Sorrow (Boo!, 2002) This live performance clip has the twist of the band with old network broadcast equipment one would find produced between the two world wars.  Too bad they did not take this somewhere, ending this DVD with the biggest missed opportunity in the disc.

 

 

The multiple aspect ratios are basically on a full screen image, which means nothing is anamorphically enhanced and little could be anyhow.  The quality is various, but so many of these were so cheaply and unimaginatively produced, that the overall quality is disappointing.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo plays in Pro Logic surround, while the 5.1 AC-3 does not have much bass.  For Punk or any Rock subgenre, that is a real problem!  This needed PCM CD or DTS sound, so this is the weakest aspect of the entire DVD.  What were they thinking?

 

Extras include the 40-minutes Epitaph Story, a behind the scenes of video #18, and live performance footage from Bouncing Souls and Bad Religion.  These are not bad, but the picture and sound are even poorer than the videos.  Music fans who think they are purists will bash the idea of videos, who except for true Rock fans, are posers.  That seems to extend to many who made these Videos.  If you truly do not care, don’t shoot any of them, or watch them.  However, Videos are an artform when done right and a few here qualify.

 

Even as far as this second-tier of Punk is concerned here, many of these songs still do not qualify.  However, this is a set with enough highlights that make it worth a look and we can only hope a second Punk-O-Rama installment will exceed this one.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo

 

 


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