Classic: ‘X: The Unheard Music’

X: The Unheard Music (MVD) is one of the great rock docs of all time. Shot over a period of five years or so by W.T. Morgan, it is a lively, playfully-directed portrait of the defining L.A. punk band of the eighties, filled with interviews, stirred through with tongue-in-cheek archival clips and highlighted by a wealth of live performance footage shot specifically for the film, including footage of the band in the studio recording “White Girl” for their second album, “Wild Gift.” In the era of early MTV, they were the real deal, and even the proto-videos created by Morgan for the film have a down-and-dirty authenticity and a sense of humor that honors the band’s aesthetic. John Doe and Exene Cervenka articulate themselves well, Billy Zoom is a smiling charmer and D.J. Bonebrake’s time signature demonstration is a wonder. But it’s not simply a band bio, it’s a survey of the music industry of the day and the struggle for independent music in the corporate mindset, which Morgan puts on display next to their story.

Debuts on both DVD and Blu-ray for the film’s 25th Anniversary, with new interviews with John Doe and Exene Cervenka, a bonus outtake from a live performance and a behind-the-scenes featurette shot in 1983 among with supplements. And remember, this is a film best enjoyed by following the directions given in the opening credits: “Play this movie loud.”

For more releases, see Videodrone’s Hot Tips and Top Picks: DVDs and Blu-rays for January 3

Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website ( I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View ( I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly,, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.