Urgh! Revisited Again (Not For The First Time)

Now that I have a great turntable and pre-amp, I’ve been visiting the archives to see which albums and singles deserve to be re-recorded and re-posted. Obviously, the soundtrack to Urgh! A Music War was one of the first on the list. These new recordings sound light-years better than my last attempt, and I highly recommended you download them even if you have an older copy I posted.

I’ve talked about Urgh! several times over, so I’ll keep the intro brief. It’s an amazing document of a time period in music, when the punk rock influences of the 70s were starting to find their way into pop music; the white British kids were discovering reggae; and when people like Gary Numan determined that any musical problem could be solved with more synthesizers. I don’t think there’s ever been another movie like it, and there certainly hasn’t been another soundtrack like it. Let’s take a look at it, one side at a time.

Side 1
The Police – Driven To Tears
Wall Of Voodoo – Back In Flesh
Toyah Wilcox – Dance
Orchestral Manoeuvers In The Dark – Enola Gay
Oingo Boingo – Ain’t This The Life
XTC – Respectable Street
Urgh! starts out a little weak, with one of The Police’s more bland efforts serving as the opening track. Things pick up quick though, thanks to an awesome lesser-known number by “Mexican Radio” fans Wall of Voodoo, followed by a freak-out of a performance by Toyah Wilcox. OMD calm things down a bit with their mid-tempo ode to nuclear warfare, but the calm doesn’t last long thanks to Danny Elfmann and the rest of Oingo Boingo rocking out “Ain’t This The Life,” one of their best tracks in my opinion. Closing side one out is a live cut by XTC, delivered so passionately and powerfully that it makes that eventual retreat from live performances all the more heartbreaking.

Side 2
The Members – Offshore Banking Business
Go-Go’s – We Got The Beat
Total Eclipse – Klaus Nomi
Athletico Spizz ’80 – Where’s Captain Kirk
Alley Cats – Nothing Means Nothing Anymore
Jools Holland – Foolish I Know
Steel Pulse – Klu Klux Klan
Side two is polarizing for me. It has some of my favorite tracks; Go-Go’s “We Got The Beat,” and the crazy “Where’ Captain Kirk” by Spizz, but it also has many of the album’s lesser numbers (at least in my opinion). I’ve never enjoyed reggae, so I almost always skip The Members and Steel Pulse tracks, and Jools Holland’s little piano bit is just annoying to me. Still, this side does have the jaw-dropping Klaus Nomi on it, so in the end it’s more good than bad.

Side 3
Devo – Uncontrollable Urge
Echo And The Bunnymen – The Puppet
The Au Pairs – Come Again
The Cramps – Tear It Up
Joan Jett & The Blackheats – Bad Reputation
Pere Ubu – Birdies
Gary Numan – Down In The Park
If side three of the Urgh! soundtrack was a standalone release it would still be worth buying. Amazing tracks by legendary bands such as Devo, Echo and The Bunnymen, Joan Jett, Gary Numan and The Cramps! All back-to-back! Epic. The Au Pairs hold their own against these more well-known bands, with their fun and quirky song about getting off (or not), and Cleveland-born freaks Pere Ubu accomplish the impossible and out-weird Gary Numan’s offbeat performance of his best song from the time period. All awesome stuff.

Side 4
Fleshtones – Shadow Line
Gang Of Four – He’d Send In The Army
John Otway – Cheryl’s Going Home
999 – Homicide
X – Beyond And Back
Magazine – Model Worker
Skafish – Sign Of The Cross
Side four is kind of a let down after the jam-packed collection of awesome that is side three. Yes, it does have X and Gang of Four (wanna hear a secret? I don’t like them!) but it also has forgettable tracks by forgotten artists like John Otway and Skafish. 999 does save things a bit though with “Homicide,” the best tribute to murdering fools that you’re ever likely to hear. Also, while some of these tracks are kind of mediocre, none of them are bad or annoying (save maybe for the Gang of Four number – but don’t tell anyone I said that), so it’s still a worthy finale to a near-flawless record.

But wait, there’s more!

Did you know you can buy Urgh! now? It’s available to purchase via Warner Brothers’ Warner Archives site. It’s just a DVD-R, but it’s in anamorphic widescreen and it sounds incredible. It definitely looks and sounds better than my worn-down VHS tape.

As you may know, there are many tracks in the Urgh! movie that weren’t featured on the soundtrack. Here are those songs, ripped directly from the DVD’s audio track (except for the Slodgenessabounds tune, since that’s not on the DVD for some reason).

Non-Album Tracks Ripped from DVD (Slodgenessabounds taken from VHS)

John Cooper Clarke – Health Fanatic
Chelsea – I’m On Fire
Dead Kennedys – Bleed For Me
Surf Punks – My Beach
Invisible Sex – Valium
Splodgenessabounds – Two Little Boys
UB40 – Madame Medua
The Police – Roxanne
The Police – So Lonely
Klaus Nomi – Aria from Samson and Delilah (End Credits Music)
Highlights here include John Cooper Clarke and his breakneck punk rock poetry slam; the Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra comparing the oppressive governments of Afghanistan to living in Nebraska for his intro for “Bleed For Me,” and the…I don’t even fucking know what of Invisible Sex’s “Valium.” The extended jam version of “Roxanne” by The Police isn’t that bad either (and I usually can’t stand that song).

Enjoy and I’ll see you all next week.

13 Responses to “Urgh! Revisited Again (Not For The First Time)”

  1. Drain says:

    thanks for the new recording of something epically awesome. i’ve loved this movie ever since i first caught it on tv back in ’02. it’s nice to know that i can buy this on dvd even if it’s a dvd-r. one question though, is gary numan’s performance included on the dvd-r? i ask because every version i’ve ever watched, whether it be on FLIX or VH1 Classic, seems to be missing it.

  2. Lost Turntable says:

    Yup, its on the Warner DVD.

  3. Eric P says:

    Holy moly, what a great post. Thanks!

  4. Drain says:

    sweet! now i can finally watch it as part of the movie instead of a lone youtube clip. thanks!

  5. Ray P says:

    I’ve loved this album since I was a college DJ in 1985 and would play selections from it on the air. I owned it on cassette and CD, on a bootleg VHS, then a bootleg DVD and, when it was finally released by Warner on DVD-R, I got that. Thanks again for posting this.

  6. […] V/A – Urgh! A Music War: The person who runs Lost Turntable recently got some new record player-to-MP3 equipment with better fidelity than the previous set up, so he/she/it/whatever re-ripped this pivotal new wave collection. Boy, does it kick your dick now. The sound is way fuller. […]

  7. Rev. Hank says:

    Ah Skafish, the strangest person in the film (and that is saying something!)

  8. Hingehead says:

    Many thanks for the re-rip – my vinyl thanks you.

    The Klaus Nomi track is my fave. Still.

    Clocks are big, machines are heavy.

  9. Dragonhead says:

    Many thanks for this post. I too have the album amd VHS, but this is a real treat. I was actually lucky enough to see one of the dates of this tour back in 1980, in Beziers, France. We spent the preceding night getting drunk with UB40, and went backstage after the show and met the Police. Skafish also played that night – the venue was a bullring and it was an awesome evening


  10. bama says:

    Wow! Thanks for the post. I was unaware of the DVR through Warner Archives, so I linked over and bought it, post haste! Those guys shoulda given you a commission!

  11. Sean says:

    I agree that Gang of Four can be an acquired taste. But as a musician, the first time I heard their debut album I immediately thought that Andy Gill was the most revolutionary & badass rhythm guitarist since Pete Townshend.

    Almost all of this compilation is A+++, it could almost be used as a college textbook for the musical history of that era. The upgrade is much appreciated.

  12. Mike D. says:

    Thanks so much for these MP3’s! I have been searching for a(n affordably priced) copy of this soundtrack for years. They don’t seem to exist. In my teen years, I had a cassette of my favorite performances from this film that I recorded off of the TV. Now I can enjoy all these great tracks once again, in fine quality. Thank you!

    And P.S. I read through some of your other posts, and I am excited that you lead me to discover Foxy Shazam. Just bought “Introducing” on Amazon. I think I am going to like this band nearly as much as you seem to. Cheers!

  13. Matt says:

    greatfilm, I have been trying to find a version of respectable street that supposedly includes more commentary than the film or vinyl versions

    something about effect pedals…

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