Best Music Movies of 1981
The Great Muppet Caper
Kermit and Fozzie are newspaper reporters sent to London to interview Lady Holiday, a wealthy fashion designer whose priceless diamond necklace is stolen. Kermit meets and falls in love with her secretary, Miss Piggy. The jewel thieves strike again, and this time frame Miss Piggy. It's up to Kermit and Muppets to bring the real culprits to justice.
The embodiment of ultimate evil, a glowing orb terrorizes a young girl with bizarre stories of dark fantasy, eroticism and horror.
This Is Elvis
Though several actors portray Elvis Presley at different stages of his life, this documentary is comprised mostly of actual performance footage and interviews with Elvis, his fans and those close to him. This biographical docu-drama features rare footage of Elvis and dramatically recreated scenes from Elvis' life.
The Decline of Western Civilization
The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X.
The history of American popular music runs parallel with the history of a Russian Jewish immigrant family, with each male descendant possessing different musical abilities.
Le Nozze di Figaro
Le Nozze di Figaro at Drottningholm Court Theater
Johnny Cash: Christmas in Scotland
The juxtaposition may seem strange, but the Cash clan’s roots are in Scotland—even if Johnny’s speculation about descent from the 12th-century King Malcolm may be more guesswork than genealogy. Andy Williams guest-stars.
Pennies from Heaven
During the Great Depression, a sheet music salesman seeks to escape his dreary life through popular music and a love affair with an innocent school teacher.
Part fact and part fiction, Zoot Suit is the film version of Luis Valdez's critically acclaimed play, based on the actual Sleepy Lagoon murder case and the zoot suit riots of 1940s Los Angeles. Henry Reyna is the leader of a group of Mexican-Americans being sent to San Quentin without substantial evidence for the death of a man at Sleepy Lagoon. As part of the defense committee, Alice Bloomfield and George Shearer fight the blatant miscarriage of justice for the freedom of Henry and his friends.
Genesis - Three Sides Live
Three Sides Live is a 1981 concert film of the Abacab tour by British rock band Genesis. It tied in with the double live album of the same name. The songs featured are mostly from the group's then most recent albums Duke and Abacab, plus a medley that comprises extracts from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway ("In the Cage" and "The Colony of Slippermen") and Selling England by the Pound ("The Cinema Show"), leading into "Afterglow" from Wind & Wuthering.
Devo: The Men Who Make the Music
Part concert film, music video collection, and propaganda piece, The Men Who Make the Music was DEVO's first home video release. Features live footage from the band's 1978 "Duty Now for the Future" tour.
Based on Davis' 1961 play Purlie Victorious (which was later translated into the 1963 film Gone Are the Days! and which included all of the original Broadway cast, including Ruby Dee, Alan Alda, Beah Richards, and Godfrey Cambridge), Purlie is a musical with a book by Ossie Davis, Philip Rose, and Peter Udell, lyrics by Udell, and music by Gary Geld. It won two Tony Awards and was also nominated for Best Musical. This 1981 television adaptation is directed by Rudi Goldman and stars Broadway cast members Guillaume, Moore, Hemsley, and Hopkins, with Brandon Maggart as Cotchipee, Clarice Taylor as Idilla, and Don Scardino as Charlie. The production won a CableACE Award.
The Cramps: Live at Napa State Mental Hospital
The concert was recorded with a black-and-white video camera and a single microphone on June 13, 1978.
Urgh! A Music War
Urgh! A Music War is a British film released in 1982 featuring performances by punk rock, new wave, and post-punk acts, filmed in 1980. Among the artists featured in the movie are Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), Magazine, The Go-Go's, Toyah Willcox, The Fleshtones, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, X, XTC, Devo, The Cramps, Oingo Boingo, Dead Kennedys, Gary Numan, Klaus Nomi, Wall of Voodoo, Pere Ubu, Steel Pulse, Surf Punks, 999, UB40, Echo & the Bunnymen and The Police. These were many of the most popular groups on the New Wave scene; in keeping with the spirit of the scene, the film also features several less famous acts, and one completely obscure group, Invisible Sex, in what appears to be their only public performance.
Janet and Brad Majors, unhappily married, are separated after appearing on a game show. Janet becomes a superstar while Brad is thrown into a mental hospital. But what does fast food magnate Farley Flavors have up his sleeve?
The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
An aspiring country singer and his feisty younger sister/manager struggle to reach their dreams of Nashville stardom-as long as she can keep her brother out of trouble with the ladies and the law-in this drama "inspired by," but not really connected to, the hit '70s ballad.
Winner of the first video Grammy Award, Michael Nesmith (The Monkees) wrote and starred in Elephant Parts, a collection of comedy and music videos using money he inherited from his mother, the inventor of Liquid Paper. Elephant Parts is one hour long and features five full length music videos, including the popular songs "Rio", and "Cruisin'", which featured wrestler Steve Strong and Monterey-based comic "Chicago" Steve Barkley. An off-beat collection that is very entertaining to view while in an altered state.
James Brown: Live at Montreux
"Soul Brother No.1", "The Godfather Of Soul", "Mr Dynamite" are all titles that have been applied to James Brown over the years. A hugely influential figure in black American music, he was a driving force in the development of soul music in the early sixties and funk in the early seventies. He has had more R&B hits in the US than any other artist, and has charted singles in countries around the world. One of the defining elements of James Brown’s career has always been his electrifying live show and his performances at Montreux give ample evidence of this. This DVD focuses on his choice as the best of them all from 1981. It’s a string of hits from start to finish delivered with all the flamboyant style and showmanship for which he is rightly famous.
Urban Struggle: The Battle of the Cuckoo's Nest
Locals formed vigilante groups to fight it, Police used legal force to repress it, City officials wanted to ban it entirely. This never before released feature length documentary was filmed in the early 80's and exposes the punk rock scene that was going on at the infamous Cuckoo's Nest club owned by Jerry Roach.
Take It or Leave It
Autobiographical account of the cult 80's British pop group 'Madness (II)' , with members of the group playing themselves, charting their rise from humble beginnings as pub band The Invaders to chart success and their first overseas tour. The film follows the ups and downs of individual members of the group, and features all of their early hits including "The Prince", "One Step Beyond", "Baggy Trousers" and "Night Boat to Cairo"
Imagine the Sound
An examination, shown through both interviews and performances, of the avant-garde free jazz movement which reigned during the 1960s.
From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China
A beautiful expression of two differing cultures brought together by the warmth and dedication of a great musician and humanitarian. In 1979, as China re-opened its doors to the West, virtuoso Isaac Stern received an unprecedented government invitation to tour the country.
Stand by Your Man
The rags-to-riches tale of country western queen, Tammy Wynette, follows her life from her impoverished childhood to country's First Lady and her two rocky marriages to fellow superstar George Jones.
America Is Waiting
Stock footage edited with music to comment on American culture.
The rise to fame and fortune of the Kane sisters, arguably one of the worst vaudeville acts ever inflicted upon a paying audience, from their humble beginnings in Coyote Fang, Wyoming, right up to their becoming the toast of the Great White Way.
Black Sabbath & Blue Öyster Cult: Black and Blue
BLACK SABBATH and BLUE ÖYSTER CULT - Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York - October 17, 1980. Track Listing: The Marshall Plan [BOC; promo], War Pigs, Neon Knights, N.I.B. [Sabbath], Dr. Music, Cities On Flame, Divine Wind [BOC], Iron Man, Guitar Solo, Paranoid [Sabbath], Godzilla, Drum Solo, Roadhouse Blues [BOC], Heaven And Hell [Sabbath], Born To Be Wild [BOC], Die Young [Sabbath] Professionally filmed for the movie, BLACK AND BLUE. 3 Sabbath songs from this movie were first shown on the 12/6/80 episode of DON KIRSHNER’S ROCK CONCERT. The movie itself premiered in NYC on 12/19/1980. BLACK AND BLUE made the rounds on the 'Midnight Movie' circuit during the early 80's. It was released on VHS in Jan. 1981 and went out of print within a short time. It could only be found for many years as a Japanese import or bootleg.
The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold
Sent in search of a Christmas tree, cabin boy Dinty Doyle lands on a mysterious, uncharted Irish island where he accidentally releases a bad-tempered banshee from her pine tree prison. Leprechaun Blarney Kilakilarney knows that in order to survive, the banshee will try to swipe his clan's pot of Christmas gold. With some magical assistance from Lord Patrick, the king of the wee folk, Dinty and Blarney make a plan to outwit the gold-hungry hag before Christmas morning dawns.
Kate and Anna McGarrigle
A short documentary about singers Kate and Anna McGarrigle made by animator Caroline Leaf.
In his first collaboration with David Byrne and Brian Eno, Conner used footage from educational films to create a rhythmically austere image-track for music from their pioneering “sampling” album “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” (1981).
Concert and backstage footage of the Go-Go's at the height of their career.
Mike Oldfield: Live at Montreux, 1981
Despite the enormous success of his 1973 debut album TUBULAR BELLS, Mike Oldfield's first concert tour wasn't until 1979. His second, the European Adventure Tour in 1981, stopped in Switzerland for the Montreux Jazz Festival. The show sold out, the crowd was alive, and the atmosphere was electric!
Grateful Dead: Dead Ahead
Recorded October 30th and 31st, 1980, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Dead Ahead showcases the recently reformed Grateful Dead lineup in acoustic and electric splendor.
Lynda Carter's Celebration
Lynda Carter's third musical TV special.
Rocksteady to both a visual and musical documentary of the big shot's of the English 2-Tone movement of the late 1970s that has the exhaustive, high-energy performances exploding onto stage. Jump, shout, twist and crawl and dance to the tunes of Ska and its anthems of its rough riders and three-minute heroes captivated in the moment of a generation of England's concrete jungles and razor blade alley's. No longer on your radio but now on stage, together, with the likes of Madness, The Specials and The Beat et al, this concert footage of an era is a must-see, rare and fascinating look into a once vibrant youth culture of working-class England and its musical dance craze
Frank Sinatra: The Man and His Music
Though it was taped 16 years after the first A Man And His Music special, this final installment continues to uphold the high standards of the series, thanks in no small part to the accompaniment of the legendary Count Basie and his orchestra.
The Marvelous Land of Oz
The Marvelous Land of Oz is a 1981 musical play by Thomas W. Olson, Gary Briggle, and Richard Dworsky, based on the 1904 novel by L. Frank Baum. Not long after the events in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a young boy named Tip is the unhappy servant of Old Mombi, a wicked Sorceress in the Land of the Gillikans (in the north of Oz). One day Tip escapes, after creating a walking stick figure with a jack-o-lantern head named Jack Pumpkinhead with a magic Powder of Life stolen from the witch. He goes to the Emerald City, now ruled by the Scarecrow, but unfortunately, a female Army of Revolt, 400 strong and led by General Jinjur, captures the city. The Scarecrow, Tip, Jack, and some other oddball characters flee the city and head west to the land of the Winkies, now ruled by the Scarecrow's old friend the Tin Woodman. They must recapture the Emerald City, defeat Old Mombi (who allies herself with Jinjur), and most of all, discover the true secret of unassuming young Tip.
Concerts for the People of Kampuchea
Organized by Paul McCartney and the United Nations, these concerts were in response to the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge’s reign, where three million persons perished in Cambodia. During the concerts, McCartney brought three generations of popular musicians together. The older generation included McCartney and the Wings, The Who and members of Procol Harum. The middle generation was represented by Queen and members of Led Zeppelin. Most notably, there was the new generation of mainly New Wavers and Punk Rockers, such as The Pretenders, Elvis Costello and The Attractions, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, The Clash, and The Specials.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Glyndebourne Opera's 1981 production of the Benjamin Britten opera, based on Shakespeare's play.
Rod Stewart: Tonight He's Yours
Rod Stewart performs 20 full length songs in this concert special.
Mistaken Memories of Mediaeval Manhattan
Various videos of the Manhattan skyline, shot by Brian Eno in 1980-81. Music from his albums Ambient 1 and 4 accompany the footage. Presented in vertical format (the television or monitor needs to be turned on its side for proper viewing).
Eurovision Song Contest 1981
The Eurovision Song Contest 1981 was the 26th edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest. It took place in Dublin, Ireland, following Johnny Logan's win at the 1980 contest in The Hague, Netherlands with the song "What's Another Year". This was the second time the contest had taken place in Ireland, after 1971. The contest was held at the RDS Simmonscourt on Saturday 4 April 1981, and was hosted by Irish television journalist Doireann Ní Bhriain.
Elton John: Visions
Compilation film with a very loose plot released for Elton John’s album The Fox.
Jethro Tull: Slipstream
Slipstream is a video by Jethro Tull, recorded during the 1980 'A' tour.
Little River Band: Live Exposure
Released on DVD for the very first time, this magical concert was filmed at the Summit in Huston, Texas on October 7 1981. Features the hits: It's a Long Way There, Happy Anniversary, Reminiscing, Cool Change, The Night Owls, Help Is On Its Way, Lonesome Loser and more. This superb film illustrates the indelible melodies and soaring harmonies which highlight this 75 minute concert.
T.G.: Psychic Rally in Heaven
An experimental film of the group Throbbing Gristle in concert.
Rhys Chatham: A Four Year Retrospective
Rhys Chatham: A Four Year Retrospective documents a series of performances by Chatham and his ensemble at The Kitchen in 1981. Performing with musicians that include Jules Baptiste and Ned Sublette, Chatham presents a series of compositions for guitars, electric bass and drums. This hour-long video document captures the propulsive energy and conceptual sophistication of Chatham's pioneering compositions.
Perry Como's French-Canadian Christmas
This televised Christmas special, filmed in Quebec, features the music of Perry Como and a number of guests.
Paul McCartney & Wings - Rockshow
Paul McCartney and Wings in concert, 1976. Thirty songs are performed, spanning McCartney's career with Wings (prior to Rockshow) and The Beatles.
The Pretenders: Live at Köln
PRETENDERS - Sartory-Säle Köln 17.07.1981 Rockpalast TV Show. Musicians: Chrissie Hynde - guitars and vocals, Pete Farndon - bass and vocals, Martin Chambers - drums and vocals, James Honeyman-Scott - guitars keyboards and vocals.
Iggy Pop: Live San Fran 1981
While this film may look rough and raw to 21st Century eyes, it is also the best representation of Iggy live during an otherwise pitifully undocumented era of his career. Fronting a crack band featuring Blondie drummer Clem Burke and future David Bowie guitarist Carlos Alomar, Pop is as unpredictable and dominant as ever (no small feat since he is sporting a mini skirt, garters and stockings for most of the show). Filmed on November 25 1981 near the end of their tour supporting his 1981 album Party, Iggy and co. are raw and ready for business. Iggy Pop Live 1981 provides a snapshot of a hungry artist at the top of his game in front of an adoring crowd.