Punk-O-Rama Volume One (Music Videos)
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
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
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
- Nicholas Sheffo