PUNK: The Early Years
(The Origins of The Punk Rock Phenomenon) DVD
(Music Video Distributors)
3 1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Feb. 2, 2004
Review by Tony BonyataAlthough it may be argued as to when punk rock actually began (my dollar's riding on Iggy & The Stooges back in '69), there's no denying when the phenomenon of this rude and rebellious movement took root in the western world's consciousness. The year was 1977, a time when U.K. based bands like the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned lifted elements from American bands such as The Stooges, the New York Dolls and The Ramones and rebelled against the bloated excesses of well-established rock acts and the then bourgeoning disco craze.
Documenting the explosion of punk rock - both as fashion and musical statements - comes a fascinating DVD entitled PUNK: The Early Years. This film, which was shot in 1977 and '78, offers a first-hand account of this rebellious musical movement. Through interviews with the musicians themselves (Billy Idol from Generation X, Siouxsie Sioux from The Banshees, Steve Strange and others), record company executives, club owners and , most importantly, the fans, the phenomenon of punk rock is explained by those that were directly involved while it was happening.
With live performances by the Sex Pistols, X Ray Specs, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Generation X and others interspersed between the interviews, the film unfolds into a historical document of the times. Although some of the sound is either a little tinny or entirely synced over the live footage, it's what's happening to the audience that's so interesting. From intense pogoing and slam dancing to spitting and far-out fashions held together with little more than safety pins and sweat, it's apparent that punk rock - at least in the U.K. - was a growing musical force to be reckoned with.
The film even includes Marc Bolan (from T. Rex) offering his thoughts on the rise of the punk rock movement. Although punk rockers looked down upon established rock acts before them, Bolan (along with other early glam rock artists such as David Bowie, with their make-up, flashy attire and askewed sexual values) were thought of more as hip uncles than a dying breed of tired rock stars. This was to be Bolan's actual last interview before his untimely death, and it's rather fitting that the flame has been passed onto a newer generation of free-thinking rockers.
The whole genre and phenomenon of punk rock is actually best summed up, however, when a fan sporting abstract make-up designs and spiky, geometrical hair - looking like Boy George at a Ziggy Stardust convention - states, "They're not very good, but they have potential." Enough potential, in fact, that the reverberations of this music and it's snarling attitude - both good and bad - can still be felt in much of today's music.
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