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June 2017




  

Plasmatics Live!
Rod Swenson’s Lost Tapes 1978-1981
MVD Visual
DVD Review By: Jaime Pina




Originally an underground New York art rock experiment, the Plasmatics became a phenomenon blazing new paths in punk and metal. The first line-up consisted of singer Wendy O. Williams (her real name) on vocals, tall lab coated guitarist Richie Stotts, stocky and shaven heaved bassist Chosei Funahara and powerhouse Stu Deutsh on drums. Wendy was a former stripper and with her strawberry blonde hair and sexy/cute dance moves, the band was a great spectacle with some solid tunes. Becoming larger in scope Wendy went platinum blonde with a patch of pink and wore tight leopard skin with her breasts exposed, nipples covered with black electrical tape. Stotts would sport an electric blue Mohawk with matching tutu and new guitarist Wes Beech would inherit the lab coat. Funahara was out (to become a film producer) and replaced by Jean Beauvoir in a white tuxedo and blonde Mohawk. This was their jaw-dropping awesome phase and soon after with larger crowds coming they lost Deutsch and Wendy got a Mohawk and they slowly started becoming self parody for the slam rock crowd with Wendy eventually becoming a “metal priestess” complete with horned headband.

This collection of video clips contains footage from the band’s humble beginnings up to the metal version playing large festivals. The original line-up with Funahara performs “Want You Baby” at CBGB’s to scattered applause even though they are incredible. The same line-up performs “Tight Black Pants” at the same venue to a more enthusiastic crowd almost a year later. These two clips are precious like the band’s out-of-print original singles with Funahara. They show the band raw and without the effects and elaborate costumes. Just pure energy and spit and it is riveting.

The next four clips are from1980 during the awesome phase and show the band at its best. Wendy has the punk rock sex kitten deal down perfectly and the band is tight and is comfortable with big stage showmanship. The three clips from Bond’s Casino in NYC after the departure of Deutsch show the band sounding less like a tight rock unit and more like a sloppy hardcore punk band. For a band that always made the smart moves this change was jarring. Although they won over a larger audience, they suffered as a convincing musical force. The last three tracks show the band in full on metal pose as on their classic SCTV appearance. There is an added ”bonus track” and it is a gem. During the shooting of the New Hope… cover, Swenson shot a video for the song “Monkey Suit” and the footage is presented here for the first time. If the idea of that cover coming to life excites you than you won’t be disappointed.