Incendiary live performances from the first wave of American punk, captured on video by Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong for their New York public-access show Nightclubbing. The real gold is five songs by the original Heartbreakers, featuring Richard Hell of Television and Johnny Thunders of the New York Dolls: slamming through “Blank Generation” and “I Wanna Be Loved” at CBGB in 1975, the band just about collapses the stage. Four more songs follow, recorded after Hell quit, though a 1980 performance of “Too Much Junkie Business” proves the song was no joke. Filling out the video are electrifying performances by the Dead Boys (whose autodestruct finale results in one audience member being carried out), Bad Brains (making a mad dash through Wire’s “12XU”), and the Dead Kennedys (whose singer, Jello Biafra, can’t finish “Holiday in Cambodia” until he dislodges the young woman who’s throttling him). Except for the Kennedys footage, the sound quality is good throughout, making this an invaluable document of an explosive period in rock history. 60 min. Also on the program: excerpts from the music documentary Looking for a Thrill. Sun 5/8, 5:15 PM, and Thu 5/12, 8:15 PM, Gene Siskel Film Center.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bob Gruen.