The band had a minor following in my hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, often playing at some of the smaller clubs that were far off the beaten track. The band was a trio of musicians that were an eclectic bunch to say the least. Dean Wareham on guitar, Naomi Yang on bass (both sang) and Damon Krukowski on drums formed this unlikely band that fought openly while touring at clubs, often using very colorful phrases to a snickering audience. Their music was much like The Cure before it went mainstream. I've never been quite able to describe their sound but most people seem to think it was something you'd expect to hear from first year Harvard Med students on acid that couldn't carry a note. The most interesting thing about the group is that while they were definitely an antidote to the corporate music that had taken over the airwaves in the early to mid-1980's, they weren't appreciated much by anyone except other musicians (many of whom borrowed heavily from the themes the group used repeatedly) and the Goth types that were holier than thou about fighting the commercialization movement.
This double DVD set has about as much material as you're going to find on the group outside a personal collection since they weren't exactly known for having a huge following. The material provided in the set was as follows:
Music Videos (all by Sergio Huidor):
A) The Middle East: Cambridge, MA: 3/19/1988:
B) Commonwealth School: Boston, MA: 4/21/1989:
C) Kennel Club: San Francisco, CA: 3/28/1990
D) Club Lingerie: Hollywood, CA: 3/30/1990
E) Kennel Club: San Francisco, CA: 10/15/1990
UK Television: London, UK: 2/9/1990
A) The Point: Atlanta, GA: 1/26/1990
B) ULU University Of London: London, UK: 11/15/1990
If you're a music historian or prefer your music more off beat than mainstream, you may well like this compilation. The band broke up over creative differences and, to be completely honest, over the lack of monetary support they had from fans. I found it very interesting to watch the various performances of the same songs as the band grew over time. This allowed for some sort of comparison of the material, something not easy to do with their records since they generally took their first take in the studio and pressed it, preferring to keep the raw energy rather than the made for a professionally recorded record. I always had a problem with them since they didn't release their records on CD, preferring the limited press runs of the vinyl they loved.
I'm going to rate this as a Rent It for anyone that isn't familiar with the band's music since it doesn't really follow any sense of rhyme or reason and the various songs here all kept that rough look the band liked, even at really weak venues (the two in the Boston area were not exactly known for breaking big stars if you catch my drift. They were by no means a bad band, just not the polished style of group most of us have come to prefer over the years. There was never a wall of sound or a gimmick hiding their flaws though and that likely appealed to a large portion of their audience. If you like seeing garage bands perform, give this one a look to see their evolution.
Picture: The picture was presented in the usual 1.33:1 ratio full frame color, as originally shot so long ago. The best looking material here looked like it was recorded with a home videocamera (ask me how I know…) and if you're looking for a perfect picture, keep on looking. There was grain, video noise, color saturation, and a host of flaws you'd expect to see; especially on the bootleg recordings.
Sound: The audio was presented in the usual 2.0 Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English. Like the picture, the audio was usually limited by the original recordings that were taken under some pretty adverse conditions. The bootleg material was the worst but you won't be applauding the sound but it held up far better than I thought it would considering the venues and limitations of the equipment used to record the sound.
Extras: With nearly four hours of material, there wasn't room for a lot of extras. I'd have preferred something more contemporary but all there is supposed to be is a small, 28-page booklet that had an interview and pictures from the band's earlier days. My copy didn't have the booklet so I have no idea if it's any good.
Final Thoughts: In the subjective world of music, you're not likely to appreciate this band too much unless you have tastes that aren't mirrored by the general public. After all, if the band gained a fair amount of success, you'd have heard of them and given how they quietly slipped off the map, I doubt most readers here have ever seen them (some times I nearly forgot their presence in Boston myself) but I'm glad a band that had some measure of success at influencing other bands is getting a spot in the limelight that they never had while together.