- THE UNHEARD MUSIC
/ Blu ray. MVD.
confession: it took me a long time to pick up on the music of
X. It wasn’t entirely my fault – you can blame the
insular xenophobia of the British music industry for much of my
ignorance, but it’s still shameful that while I was aware
of the band through connectiont to things I love – namely
Lydia Lunch and Beth B’s films – it took me much,
much longer than it should’ve to start to pay attention
to the band.
Ironically, that’s one of the themes of this 1985 documentary
– not my ignorance of the band, but the wider music
industry ignorance and lack of imagination that existed at the
time (and is even worse now). The Unheard Music
isn’t simply a song and movie title – it’s a
central theme, sitting alongside a visual critique of US culture
in the mid Eighties, a study of the outsider and, holding it all
together, the story of one of LA’s leading punk bands.
Shot between 1980 and 1985, The Unheard Music mixes interviews,
live footage, studio recordings and frenetic cut-up visuals to
present a flavour of X without ever becoming a straight biography
or concert film. You’ll get a taste of the people behind
X from this, but that’s it – there are no sit-down
interviews guiding you through the history of the band. Instead,
ideas, philosophies, confessions and revelations come in snippets,
hints and suggestions, while the band’s music does the talking
for them. And there’s no faulting that, with tracks from
their first four albums positively tearing down the walls of a
nation that is stuck in cultural and political conservatism (the
interviews with record label execs are both hilarious and chilling
as they talk about the need for commercialism), as the underground
is kept very firmly underfoot – or dragged in to be assimilated
into the mainstream, as was clearly the intention for Elektra,
who had signed X and obviously wanted them to be a safely edgy
band capable of Top 40 singles.
As a time capsule, this is fascinating stuff, and remains as relevant
now as it was twenty five years ago. X’s music still sounds
fresh and original – and is still as radio-unfriendly as
it was then – and the fast-paced video and film stock cut-ups
seem, if anything, more timely now than in 1984.
If you are a fan of X, this is, obviously, a must. If you’re
not, it’s probably even more essential to show you what
This new DVD / Blu ray release also has new interviews with Exene
Cervenka and John Doe, outtakes, vintage film crew interviews
and more, making it even more of an essential package.
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