The Unheard Music (Blu-ray)
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X: The Unheard Music takes long, detailed, and often funny look at the LA music scene of the late 70s and 80s and focuses on the group that critics had singled out as the leader of the underground pack. The Unheard Music is a documentary that combines live footage of the band and interviews with the four members (as well as their friends and families) with surreal music videos and montages of newsreel footage and vintage television commercials which help to illustrate X's uphill struggle against the music industry. Their story rings true even today. Bonus interviews and more. First time ever on Blu-ray!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I'm enough of a fan of the X movie to have bought it no less than THREE times over the years -- Laserdisc, DVD, and now on Blu-Ray. I consider it one of the absolutely greatest masterpieces of the rockumentary genre. It went beyond making me fall totally in love with the band to also encompassing cultural meaning and history far wider and deeper than the scope of the band itself.
So I have to ask, WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING to crop the top/bottom off the movie to make it faux "widescreen"?!? For anyone really familiar with the movie, this totally butchered the frame composition. Furthermore, IMO, "Cinemascope" really doesn't fit the rest of the punk aesthetic of the film as well as the 3x4 aspect ratio did.
Yeesh, the movie's short enough, couldn't they have included two versions if they had to have a chopped version for whatever reason?
To compound the problem, the Amazon product description improperly cites the aspect ratio as 1.33:1. (Maybe that's how the release was originally planned/announced?) The outer case doesn't bear any warning that "this film has been modified from its original format to fill a widescreen TV" either. If this sort of thing matters to you, buyer beware.
Fortunately I still have my old Image DVD. It looks like that earlier DVD edition is even still available through Amazon. I'd personally recommend that fans get THAT version instead before those copies disappear, even with its arguably muddier transfer and standard-def resolution.
I'll have to watch it further to see if the bonus materials make the Blu-Ray worth keeping. Otherwise, my copy is quickly headed for the second-hand market. :-(
This new release on DVD and Blu-ray also has some bonus materials including interviews with John Doe and Exene Cervenka on the 25th anniversary of the movie, as well as an interview with the filmmakers (Angel City) recorded when the film was released. You also get the original theatrical trailer, a performance of Some Other Time (Live Outtake), and The Unheard Music Songbook (stills of pages with handwritten lyrics and drawings/layouts by John Doe & Exene Cervenka).
Watching it again all these years later, it still was a great music documentary and John Doe sums it up nicely in his recent interview in the bonus materials, "Well, it's pretty broad, ya know, it gives a pretty broad picture. It's not just a concert film, it's not jut a studio film, or a making of the record film or a this or a that and that's kind of rare in music documentaries."
Exene goes on to say, "It's not a movie about a band, it's a movie about the circumstances that we're all living in where you're up against it."
I say, "It's a movie worth watching, whether your 14, 44, or 74, enjoy!"
The Chapter List includes:
State of Mind
Because I Do
A Different Sound
Beyond and Back
Come Back to Me
Sounds Like Murder
The Once Over Twice
Radio Broadcasting Today
Motel Room in My Bed
The Unheard Music
Real Child of Hell
Johnny Hit & Run Paulene
I Must Not ThinkBad Thoughts
The World's a Mess; It's in my Kiss
The Have Nots (End Credits)
In retrospect, X should probably have been a huge band. The Los Angeles foursome had all the makings of a success – four flawlessly great albums, a unique sound, an easily identifiable look, and a high-profile celebrity patron in their corner in producer and ex-Door Ray Manzarek. How such a great band missed the success and stardom they clearly deserved was always a mystery to me, until watching this Silver Anniversary re-release of the 1986 documentary The Unheard Music. As you would expect, the film tells the story of the band up until that point, with interviews of the band members, live footage, studio footage, and collage-style music videos for some of the best songs from their early years. However, The Unheard Music does so much more than your typical rock-doc. It also (perhaps inadvertently) serves as a time capsule of the wave of Reagan-led conservatism that ruled mainstream American culture in the early-1980s. It was this attitude and close-mindedness that, in essence, killed X’s commercial prospects. The film has an interview with a music executive talk about how he couldn’t hear the commercial potential of X, while he espouses the virtues of a now forgotten band called Point Blank who he believes could be “the next Journey”. That speaks volumes. The music industry was turning to safe time-proven formulas for money-making rather than simply being a middle man for bringing good art to the public, and an artistically uncompromising band like X couldn’t compete in that kind of environment. The film also gave me a new appreciation for the four distinctive personalities and styles that were housed within X, especially underrated drummer DJ Bonebrake, who reveals that Captain Beefheart was a huge inspiration for his drumming (which was a connection I never made, but can totally understand now that it’s been pointed out) and demonstrates how he used to build complex drum beats around the repetitive rhythm of a percolating coffee machine! The film’s 25th anniversary Silver Edition DVD/BluRay includes a wealth of new extras, such as a pair of recently filmed interviews with John Doe and Exene, a 1983 interview with the production team behind the film, and a live outtake of “Some Other Time” which didn’t make it into the original film. Essential viewing.