Reviews

Crime San Francisco’s First and Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Band: Live 1978 2×7″/DVD

The basis for this DVD is live footage Larry Larson shot of CRIME at San Francisco punk club the Mabuhay Gardens on June 24, 1978. The CRIME fliers shown at the beginning of the film contradict that date stating “one night only June 4,” so maybe someone is confused. Larson shot the footage for a planned television project on San Francisco punk. His intro and outro for the segment bookend the film. The footage is great. It’s multi-camera, 16mm shots of the band in action, and also conveys the atmosphere of the club. Larson ran out of money and became ill, so he never finished it. He left the footage to Crime drummer Henry Rosenthal (a.k.a. Hank Rank), and it sat untouched until a few years ago when another filmmaker, Jon Bastian, convinced Rosenthal to let him edit it. The result is a 35-minute document of CRIME performing live, surrounded by the various patrons of the Mabuhay Gardens, and lorded over by the Mab’s booker and resident jokester Dirk Dirksen. Dirksen heckles the crowd while they pose for the camera. Seeing the people who attended punk shows in the ’70s is always good for a laugh. There are also brief interviews with the members of CRIME—Frankie Fix, Johnny Strike, Ron Ripper, and Hank Rank—along with some backstage antics. Bastian’s editing keeps things lively, and although I would have liked him to stay on the band for at least one entire song, I realize most people might find that boring, so things have to keep moving. Plus, the introductory promise of a riot never materializes. There is some extra footage shot by Carola Anderson, inexplicably throw in, of CRIME playing their infamous show at San Quentin. It is quick and distracts from the seedy, dark nightlife attitude of the rest of the film. (I am sure a lot of people know that Target Video shot the San Quentin show, too. There have been clips included on Target VHS tapes and DVDs. After seeing this I just have to say, it’s time for CRIME and Target Video to sort things out and finally release that performance. It would be an excellent complement to this collection.) Overall, the DVD is a fascinating capsule of the time. The film probably won’t attract many new fans to CRIME, but those who already are will enjoy this journey back to when it was happening. The double 7” is the soundtrack to the film—eleven songs total. Playing the DVD and 7”s back to back, I am surprised at the difference in sound quality. The records don’t sound as good. I assume that is the result of cramming three songs on one side of a 45 RPM 7” (two on the fourth side). But I guess that doesn’t matter. Everyone knows the draw here is the film.