The Decline of Western Civilization Collection

Studio: Shout! Factory

Aug 25, 2015 Issue #54 - August/September 2015 - CHVRCHES Bookmark and Share

As it became harder and harder to track down, Penelope Spheeris’ 1981 film on the L.A. punk scene (featuring Germs, Black Flag, X, Circle Jerks, Fear, and more) became a must-see cult documentary. With music rights issues tying up official home video releases for years, Shout!’s surprise Blu-ray box set is an eye-popping upgrade over the VHS rips most fans have seen. It’s a captivating chronicle of the early years of one of the last century’s most impactful cultural and musical movements, shot from the very center of one its strongest scenes. With first-rate performance footage and brutally candid interview subjects—including a sad moment with the Germs’ Darby Crash, who committed suicide before the film’s release—it’s a documentary no one with an interest in music history should miss.

The box set includes Decline and its two follow-ups. 1988’s sequel, Part II: The Metal Years, followed the more mainstream hair and glam metal acts of the era, including Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, KISS, and Aerosmith. 1998’s Part III, which looked at the lives of homeless L.A. gutter punks, neatly rounded out the trilogy almost two decades after its first entry. Bonus materials include interview outtakes and commentaries by Spheeris and Dave Grohl.

Author rating: 7.5/10

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