“Punks Not Dead” [DVD] by Various Artists

Artist: Various Artists
Title: “Punks Not Dead”
Label: MVD Visual
Release Date: 8/17/2009
Genre: Punk Rock Documentary
Rating: 3.75/5

“Punks Not Dead” is an interesting documentary film that presents to the viewer what I felt was a great inside and historical look into the Punk Rock and Hardcore movement when it first started to pick up steam back in the mid 70’s. It succeeds in its quest to inform the home audience of today by blending interview footage from notable acts such as The Damned, The Ramones, Circle Jerks, The Subhumans along with many, many more and explains to you in their own words just how reviled and accepted the Punk Rock genre was in its infancy. The film wisely starts at the apparent beginnings of the whole movement and explains how the whole DIY principle worked out. If you don’t know what DIY is, you should know that it stands for “Do It Yourself” and how it is still a larger practice today when it comes to the underground scene of any music genre in addition to what now calls itself today’s Punk. When the term was new it referred to how the bands booked shows by using phony credit card numbers and shared public phones that they were able to use for free and how most bands sent out their music to the fans from their houses and often sought a place to crash from these same fans when they would be in their town. One of the key quotes gives kudos to how all of this networking, touring and building of a music scene was all being done without the support or even interest from major record companies. The experts in the Punk music realm discuss how like many things with an original small fan response or underground only following can get big and eventually reach the mainstream. Of course this happening sometimes generates the feeling in its original fans that it had sold out from the aesthetic that it once held and was no longer relevant. We see this all the time with the fans who stake claim on bands “first” and no longer liking them when the rest of the world jumps on board. Some bands that are cited as helping to push Punk into the mainstream are The Offspring, Green Day, Rancid and Pennywise. They even mention Nirvana and while the Grunge Rock band definitely sold millions of albums, I didn’t see them as a Punk act and wondered how they came to feel they applied to this situation. Quotes from founders of many of the original Punk Rock record companies are spoken to and they explain how almost every dollar earned was put right back into getting the next record out for the band that had earned the money or another worthy act. That’s a lot different from a label earning money on the Joe Blow New band and putting the money into Aerosmith that’s for sure.

They explain how the whole Punk manner of dress can now be obtained at outlets like Hot Topic and how green hair, tattoos and piercings are the norm and no longer shock and put fear into your parents. It was a member of Pennywise that said, “Hell, your parents take you for this stuff now” and that is a clear sign of the ever changing times. Among the more interesting segments of the film we find out about the directors having polled the Punk Fans of the world via the Internet in an effort to learn more about the bands and “scene” in their specific regions. From this segment we get the inside scoop in brief about bands from Iceland, Israel, Russia and Serbia and each of them explain how hard it is to sometimes get their music out of the area that they are in. One thing that I also took from this was how consistent the original Punk groove from back in the day was with these bands even though some of them might have only first heard the genre from bands like Green Day as opposed to the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Ramones. Fans of events like The Warped Tour get to learn how some of its origins took place and while there are some gaps in the history of the genre that many people know, we learn how there has not been a Punk revival based on its never really having gone away as much as it went back underground when it came to many of the bands that walked the true Punk walk. There are quite a few bonus features and extras to enjoy and I’ve lined them out for us below.

The Extras: Punk Rock Housing, Prez Vs. Punk, Addicts – The Fall, Set Lists, Pat Mike’s House Tour, Punk Rock Bowling, Fun Stuff, Smash The Discos, The Business, Trailer, Teaser, CBGB/The Roxy/The Masque.

*** It was a wise decision to add as much in terms of the bonus features as they did with this film because it offers the viewer a lot more detail and information about certain things. It starts with “Punk Rock Housing” where some of the interviewed explain their living situations back when the scene was growing and how some apartments were loaded with musicians who would all crash with one another and then rehearse or perform most of the time at these same residences. “Prez vs. Punk Rock” was a brief commentary that blames a lot of the slowness in Punk Rock’s gaining an audience being based on President Jimmy Carter who had convinced record label executives to not sign these bands and get tax breaks. Carter wanted to avoid the kind of scene that developed in the UK from happening over here. It’s nice that the government always finds time to mess with musical growth as opposed to focusing on the real issues.

The bottom line is that if this is a genre that appealed to you in any sense then you need to see this film. Its not only important for the Punk Rock side of things because while focused on the genre and its aesthetic, it also gives you that deep inside look around at the community and support structure that the scene got from its fans and that’s very important to learn about. The whole insight about the DIY manner of doing things might help strengthen any musicians resolve. It’s an enjoyable viewing session without any dull moments and when you add this to the bonus features you have a great evening of music viewing entertainment. Check this one out without question.

Bands Featured:
1. Black Flag
2. The Ramones
3. The Clash
4. The UK Subs
5. Subhumans
6. NOFX
7. Pennywise
8. Green Day
9. Bad Religion
10. The Addicts
11. Stiff Little Fingers
12. Rancid
13. The Damned
14. Social Distortion
15. Minor Threat
16. The Offspring
17. Good Charlotte
18. My Chemical Romance

Official Website: http://www.punksnotdeadthemovie.com

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