Punk Rock was always meant to be a flash in the pan. The Sex Pistols never intended to be playing concerts in their 60's, they wanted to make the world sit up and take notice so they could flip it the finger. That's pretty much what happened to the Pistols, recording only one album, albeit a classic one, in their short career. Another influential punk band that only lasted a short while was the Dead Boys. Starting in Cleveland in 1975 but soon moving to New York (at the urging of Joey Ramone) the Dead Boys took the Big Apple by storm and quickly gained fame and notoriety in the world of Punk Rock. Four years and two albums later they would disband. In 1986 the group reunited for a Halloween Night concert at The Ritz in New York which was recorded. While not at the absolute top of their game, but group still had a lot of the energy and intensity the made them famous. This short (running only 50 minutes) but exciting event has now found its way onto DVD on the aptly titled Return of the Living Dead Boys: Halloween Night 1986.
Recorded with a presumably consumer-grade camcorder from the back of the concert hall, this show starts off with a quick introduction to the group by Joey Ramone. The group launches into their most famous song, "Sonic Reducer" first, which they also close the gig with. It takes the group a couple of songs to really get their bearings, though that may be because it took them a bit to get used to lead singer Stiv Bators rather odd outfit. He's dressing in black leather including elbow-length gloves and leather chaps.
Dress aside, Stiv and the boys put on a great show. The audience really gets into the set and has a great time. People climb onto the stage, dance around with the band for a bit before diving back into the mob, the performers seemingly oblivious.
The set itself really rock if you're into (or can remember a time when you were, which is my case) hard thrashing punk. The group is in top form after a couple of songs and stays there for the rest of the show. They do great version of Son of Sam and 3rd Generation Nation off of their second album as well as I Need Lunch and Down in Flames from their first. They even do a cover version of the Stooges "Search and Destroy" which is very energetic.
The songs included are:
The disc offers both a stereo and a DD 5.1 track, the latter of which throws a lot of the audience noise to the rears. Not the last word in high fidelity, the audio is acceptable but not much more than that. The range is rather limited and the sound isn't as crisp as it should be. Punk wasn't about crisp clear sound however, so that's not a huge defect. While there's a touch of distortion here and there, it was very minor, and there wasn't any background noise or tape his noticeable at normal listening levels.
The video wasn't too impressive. Filmed with a camcorder from the back of the hall, the image quality is about what you'd expect given its origins. The picture is very soft, the detail is lacking and the there are some video dropouts and tape tracking errors. The disc isn't horrible however, I've seen a lot worse in my time. Definitely watchable it's a nice record of a historic performance.
The only extra is an old VHS dub of a TV interview from 1980 with band members Stiv Bators and Frank Secich from Good Morning Youngstown. This 15+ minute clip starts off with a video for "Sonic Reducer" and then has some local TV personality interview the pair. The whole setup was funny starting with the bland and innocuous theme song of the morning show to the (white) interviewer's afro. Fans of the group will get a kick out of this.
This concert is an archive from a lost time. This concert
by one of the important US Punk bands is a great flash from the past.
Though the video quality is only marginal the songs sound good and that's
what it's all about. Aging punks and those who've just discovered
the music form should check this out. Recommended.