Live! At CBGB 1977

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Album: Live! At CBGB 1977
Label: Music Video Distributors

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Wire

Album: On The Box: 1979
Label: Pink Flag Archive Research

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Album: Raw
Label: Image

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The recent documentary End Of The Century tells the Ramones story more clearly, but the DVD Raw—which slams together exclusive home movies and scraps from just about every worldwide TV appearance the Ramones ever made—better captures the punk legends' slobby spirit. Shapelessly shot and edited by band buddy John Cafiero, Raw plays like one long in-joke, with random celebrity sightings and lots of unexplained references to "sloths." The disc's bonus features add even more live footage (including a complete 30-minute 1980 Italian concert) and TV interviews (including a segment on Space Ghost: Coast To Coast), but fans will have to watch the main program if they want to see Marky Ramone sitting on the can.

In its oddball cuddliness, Ramones became a kind of theme-park version of punk—which was part of the band's sad story, since there's no reason why the Ramones shouldn't have been a Top 40 perennial. For a shot of slightly more dangerous material, watch Dead Boys' Live! At CBGB 1977, which catches the New York underground legend on a typically ragged, wasted night. The band opens with its most enduring song, "Sonic Reducer," and closes with a cover of Iggy & The Stooges' "Search And Destroy," and though a lot of the music in between sounds like loud mush, it gets shape from Stiv Bators' spastic performance, as he contorts his face and body to spit the words out. The DVD adds some priceless interview footage, including a clip of a burly roadie insisting that Dead Boys will be "the number one new-wave band in the world."

What's most remarkable about Dead Boys' live DVD is that it exists at all, given the lack of commercial prospects for such a document back in '77, let alone now. The same could be said of the Wire DVD On The Box: 1979, an hourlong set drawn from a broadcast of German TV's RockPalast. Wire's first incarnation was about at an end by '79, as the band's early punk frenzy had begun to drift into abstraction (as might be expected from the kind of art-school types whom, a decade earlier, might've become Pink Floyd). Live, though, the Wire of 1979 is fluid and rock-y. Even in front of a small, unresponsive audience, the band gets increasingly aggressive, tearing through songs like "A Question Of Degree" and "Men 2nd" as if every note could save a life, or at least liberate listeners from boredom.

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