The Urgh! A Music War movie was one of the landmark new wave/post-punk films, and its makers did a fine job of capturing a specific era in music. Unlike the also great but much more punk-oriented The Decline of Western Civilization movie, Urgh dispensed with interviews and focused just on performances, so they were able to include a lot more groups in the process. They assembled quite an exceptional roster, many of whom were either on Miles Copeland's then-burgeoning IRS label or were in some way affiliated with his management company (most notably the Police, featuring Miles' brother Stewart Copeland). IRS sponsored many great artists like the Cramps, Dead Kennedys, Oingo Boingo, Go-Go's, Fleshtones, and Magazine, so the Copeland self-promotional aspect isn't a bad thing at all. The film doesn't stop there, though, so there's also many non-IRS artists like X, Gang of Four, Devo, Pere Ubu, XTC, Joan Jett and more. In fact, if you combined all the groups mentioned up to this point, you wouldn't even have half of the performers that appeared in the film itself!
This accompanying soundtrack is a 2xLP (or 2xCS) release that contains a lot of the music from the film, but not everything. To be sure, most of the key moments were included, but I'm still particularly annoyed that A&M purposefully omitted the Dead Kennedys. This is because Jerry Moss (the "M" in A&M) absolutely hated the group's name and refused to include the DKs. That decision soured my feelings on this standalone soundtrack release, and the fact that the CD (my format of choice) was also abridged also bothered me. After holding out for many years, I finally got this anyway, and I really regret not picking this up sooner. The performances are superb, and you don't have to have the accompanying visuals from the film to enjoy them. The recording quality is exceptionally good, and to hear so many innovative artists in one place makes for a fantastic listen. You may not like everything here, but there's much to explore, and it's hard to picture a better document of an especially great time for music.
For people interested in knowing what's here and what's not, the CD version is missing the following six artists: Toyah Wilcox, the Members, Athletico Spizz, the Alley Cats, the Au Pairs, and John Otway. All versions of the soundtrack lack the songs by John Cooper Clarke, Chelsea, the Dead Kennedys, Surf Punks, Invisible Sex (who were those guys anyway?) and Splodgenessabounds, as well as the film-closing reprise performances from the Police and Klaus Nomi. Some enterprising label needs to cut through all the cloudy legal matters that have hampered the soundtrack's availability and put out an expanded two-CD reissue that contains everything. That would rule..