9/20/2007

Ugh! A Legal Mess / XTC

In the wee hours of Thursday morning VH1 Classic treated us--both curious and suffering from isomnia--to our first ever viewing of the cult music film Urgh! A Music War (1981) featuring live performances of, among others, The Police, The Go-Gos, Klaus Nomi, Steel Pulse, Pere Ubu, and XTC.

A wonderful document of the "new wave" era, Urgh! has yet to see the light of day in today's home consumer market due to the loss of the original licensing agreement, making it a legal nightmare to secure all sorts of necessary releases to have it transferred to the DVD format. (The double vinyl album and the VHS versions are, sadly, both out of print and fetch a small ransom on eBay and the like.) Former Police manager Miles Copeland, the film's producer --who is said to have enough footage in storage for a potential 6-hour, 2 DVD set, if and when legal hurdles are ever cleared--retains its broadcast rights, which is why it pops up sporadically on TV and on occasional movie house and video club tours across the US.

Our personal highlight was watching XTC perform "Respectable Street", originally from their classic
album Black Sea (1980), at the height of their powers with the simply incomparable Partridge/Moulding/Gregory/Chambers lineup. More so in light of the fact that due to vocalist/guitarist Andy Partridge's crippling stage fright the band retired from live performance in 1982, never to perform in front of an audience again. (They have made very rare exceptions however, such as performing vocalist/bassist Colin Moulding's "King for a Day" live on Late Night with David Letterman in 1989, to promote the Oranges and Lemons album.) We own the hard-to-find 1980 Live at the BBC Concert (released in 1993), caught them on Letterman, and even had the pleasure of meeting Messrs. Partridge and Moulding in the late '90s, but had never seen them perform live in front of a crowd in any way shape or form. And while we weren't surprised by their mesmerizing stage presence, we were in awe nonetheless.

In the years since they stopped performing live, XTC have remained busy as a studio-bound act and released a veritable treasure trove of critically acclaimed albums. Unfortunately, in 2006--the band's 30th anniversary--Partridge stated in interviews that Moulding has lost interest in making music and thus the XTC moniker will be retired until such time as the aforementioned Moulding has a change of heart. In a strange turn of events, Partridge has recently resolved his differences with former XTC guitarist/keyboardist/arranger Dave Gregory--who left in 1998 during the Apple Venus sessions--and are contemplating working together again. Make plans for Colin, guys. Please.

1 comment:

Lito Sandoval said...

Wow You never saw these until recently?? I think my sis has this on VHS, we saw it on USA's Night flight way back when.

The CD soundtrack stinks in that it omits a few songs.