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X | The Unheard Music | review | dvd | Lollipop


The Unheard Music (Image)
by Craig Regala

Hands down my favorite rock bio/movie. Even if you don't know the band, this'll tell you a ton about the record industry, rock music, punk rock, the spirit of DIY, and what goes on. X were on the rock and roll ledge of the punk rock thing, just as punk started to burst into hardcore. They moved on, but were continually tarred with the "punk" brush. It might gather some sorta cred nowadays, but punk, as it were, was reviled, partly for musical-social reasons, but really because the industry made no money off the initial U.S. bands. Don't kid yourself: The Ramones weren't shit sales-wise in the '70s, and the Dead Boys did even worse than their heroes, the Stooges. Remember, these were the major label signings. After that, even the more rock/blues-rooted bands like X, The Gun Club, or The Flesheaters got no interest from the big guys. Let's hope someone does a movie this good about Black Flag or the Moving Targets and we can see the real rock and roll ground war.

What really matters is how goddamn good this is as a movie. It starts hot, peeling through quick-cut images of the scene X came from, then drops into little biographies of the members. One of the initial complaints against punk rock was the bands couldn't play. (This, of course, was and is meaningless. The only definitive point of rock and roll is to stay in time, in tune, and make sure you can play what you compose without falling on yer ass.) To answer this, the director casually shows the drummer keeping different time with each of his hands and one of his feet. Go ahead, try it. Each point made is done as simply and succinctly as this. I've watched it 100 easy times over the years on video and am jazzed to have it on DVD. When they did a few reunion shows a couple years ago, it was a who's who of alternative rock icons backstage and in the audience: Mike Ness, Rollins, Flea, Perry Farrel. They all came to pay homage and see one of the greats return.


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